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29 Cards in this Set

  • Front
  • Back
a philosophy that emphasizes the uniqueness and isolation of the individual experience in a hostile or indifferent universe
Existential psychotherapy
operates on the belief that inner conflict within a person is due to that individual's confrontation with the givens of existence

partly based on the existential belief that human beings are alone in the world

this feeling of aloneness leads to feelings of meaninglessness which can be overcome only by creating one's own meaning and significance

we want to connect with others but ultimately cannot rely on others for validation! it must come from within and this causes anxiety

we also have to take responsibility for our own actions - this also causes anxiety
People involved with Existential Counseling
Yalom, Victor Frankl, Rollo May and Jim Bugental
Yalom's Four Givens of Life
also called "ultimate concerns"
form the body of existential psychotherapy and compose the framework in which a therapist conceptualizes a client's problem

inevitability of death

(are we really free to be whoever we want to be? we can't really do whatever we want, whenever)

existential isolation
(referring to phenomenology, even if you're not physically alone, can feel alone)

how we live our life makes a significant difference

do we visit all the rooms in our house?

we choose what we are?
Goals of Existential Psychotherapy
Helping clients to accept their freedom and responsibility to act

Assisting people in coming to terms with the crises in their lives

Encouraging clients to recognize the ways in which they are not living fully authentic lives

Inviting clients to become more honest with themselves

Broadening clients' awareness of their choices

Facilitating the client's search for purpose and meaning in life

Assisting clients in developing a deep understanding of themselves and the ways they can effectively communicate with others
Does Existential Psychology stress past or future choices?

People can choose the good life and have the courage to be!
History of Existential Psychotherapy
Born from philosophy

A phenomenological (subjective) philosophy of "humanness"
Humans are in a constant state of transition, evolving and becoming
Clients are searching for meaning in their subjective worlds
Common questions/sources of existential angst for clients
who am i

i will die

what does it all mean

will i die alone

how am i going to get to where i want to be in my life?
Basic Dimensions of the Human Condition
The capacity for self-awareness

The tension between freedom and responsibility

The creation of an identity and establishing meaningful relationships

The search for meaning

Accepting anxiety as a condition of living

The awareness of death and nonbeing
The Capacity for Self-Awareness
the greater our awareness, the greater our possibilities for freedom

Awareness is realizing that:

We are finite - time is limited
We have the potential and the choice to act or not to act
Meaning is not automatic - we must seek it
We are subject to loneliness, meaninglessness, emptiness,, guilt, and isolation
The Search for Identity and Meaningful Relationships
Identity is "the courage to be" - we must trust ourselves to search within and find our own answers
- our greatest fear is that we will discover that there is no core, no self
- being existentially "alone" helps us to discover our authentic self
(can't taste the sweetness without experiencing the bitterness)

Relatedness - At their best our relationships are based on our desire for fulfillment, not our deprivation
- Relationships that spring from our sense of deprivation are clinging, parasitic, and symbiotic
# clients must distinguish between neurotic dependence and the authentic need to be with others
- Balancing aloneness and relatedness helps us develop a unique identity and live authentically in the moment
The Search for Meaning
Meaning - like pleasure, meaning must be pursued obliquely
(cannot find it by searching for it, studying it, etc)
Finding meaning in life is a by-product of a commitment to creating, loving, and working
Meaning doesn't come in a box/husband/child, but you create it and infuse it into everything you do

The "will to meaning" is our primary striving
- Life is not meaningful in itself; the individual must create and discover meaning
Yalom's Four Givens of Life
also called "ultimate concerns"
form the body of existential psychotherapy and compose the framework in which a therapist conceptualizes a client's problem

inevitability of death

(are we really free to be whoever we want to be? we can't really do whatever we want, whenever)

existential isolation
(referring to phenomenology, even if you're not physically alone, can feel alone)

Created by Yalom's 4 givens

Existential anxiety is normal - life cannot be lived, nor can death be faced, without anxiety
Existential therapists help clients develop a healthy view of anxiety:
- anxiety can be a catalyst for living authentically and fully
- we can blunt our anxiety by creating the illusion that there is security in life
- if we have the courage to face ourselves and life we may be frightened, but we will be able to change
How are our lives safer because of fear?
Fear and anxiety are signals of problems

They help us recognize the problem

They motivate us to cope with the problem

Normal anxiety is good
How are our lives poorer because of fear?
Because of fear we:

avoid responsibility for our actions
avoid recognizing we have choices
avoid anxiety and play it safe
avoid real intimacy
stay busy so we don't become aware of our fundamental aloneness or finiteness of life
Neurotic anxiety
not good

choices are opportunities, not problems
Existential anxiety
makes us aware of the "big issues"

helps us steer an effective path through life

helps us become aware of separations from self, others, world

cannot be lived with 24/7, but should be revisited from time to time
The I and very different you can be integrated into a common we

The otherliness of the other person is not something to be tolerated it is instead something to behold, something that enriches the beholder

Can we see each other without making each other objects?

Can we touch and really understand each other?

Can we do both?
Logotherapy goals
Find meaning in life - even from the terrible

Change meanings to those that are more healthy and adaptive

To do this:
1. Listen and understand their worldview
2. Communicate your understanding
3. Only when your client recognizes that you understand, can you begin to shift meanings
Specialized techniques of existential therapy

Paradoxical intention

searches for the positive in the situation

must wait until the client feels heard
Paradoxical intention
encourages client to do what client is afraid might happen

returns control to the client

"having a panic attack any time, any place sounds scary. I wonder whether you could practice having panic attacks over the next week"
redirects focus from the maladaptive to the healthy

"You’ve been spending a lot of time worrying about your daughter -- and driving you both crazy!  Perhaps this would be a good week to find something else to do.  You’ve talked about wanting to [fill in the blank]."
Client-Therapist relationship
person-to-person relationship is key
the relationship demands that the therapist be in contact with their own phenomenological world

the core of the relationship
- respect and faith in the client's potential to cope
- sharing reactions with genuine concern and empathy
Application to Group Counseling
Provides an ideal environment for therapeutic work on responsibility
(clients are responsible for their own behavior, group provides a mirror of how clients act, members learn how their behavior affects others)

Builds interpersonal skills
(provides members with the opportunity to be fully themselves while relating to others, and to relate to others in meaningful ways)

Provides an opportunity to explore the paradoxes of existence
(learn to experience anxiety as a reality of the human condition, make choices in the face of uncertainty, discover there are no ultimate answers for ultimate concerns)
Limitations of Existential Therapy
individualistic focus may not fit within the world views of clients from a collectivistic culture

high focus on self-determination may not account for real-life limitations of those who are oppressed and have limited choices

some clients prefer a more directive approach

may prove difficult for clients who experience difficulty conceptualizing or have limited intellectual capacities

does not focus on specific techniques, making treatment difficult to stabilize

limited empirical support