Existential Therapy Case Study

Submitted By janjan1931
Words: 2934
Pages: 12

Discuss, illustrate and reflect on three main concepts of Existential psychotherapy and their application to practice.

To illustrate my discussions and reflections I must use a case from a helping relationship in everyday life.

Existential therapy is based on philosophy (Deurzen, 2012). The techniques used in this type of therapy is not specific, it is based on our existence in life. The conflicts that are experienced in life are based on the givens of existence. The therapeutic relationship is between the client and the therapist and most importantly it highlights the client’s personal freedom in deciding their own direction.
1 Some of the key figures regarding existential psychotherapy are Rollo May, Irvin Yalom, Martin Heidegger, Soren Kierkegaard, Friedrich Nietzsche, Viktor Frankl, Jean-Paul Sartre (Van Deurzen, 2012, May, 1969, Cox, 2012)
2 Some of the basic concepts of extentialism are freedom and responsibility, isolation, meaninglessness, nothingness, uncertainty, death, anxiety, just to name a few (Cox, 2012). In this essay three of these concepts will be discussed and illustrated followed by a case study to illustrate how these concepts relate to existence.
2 Freedom and Responsibility
2 The fact that we are responsible for ourselves mean that we have to make choices and to take responsibilities for our actions. In this respect we have to make decisions where we have to choose between alternatives and there are times when these decisions are made and we cannot be certain about the outcome therefore another concept arise which is uncertainty (Heidegger, 2010). Moreover, Heidegger stated that as something factical, the understanding self projection of dasein is always already connected with a discovered world, from this world it takes it’s possibilities initially in accordance with the interpretiveness of the “they”. This interpretation as from the outstep restricted the possible options of choice to the scope of what is familiar, attainable, feasible, to what is correct and proper. The leveling down of the possibility of dasein to what is initially available in everyday way at the same time result in the phasing out of the possible of such. In life we are faced with consequences where we have to choose a course of action and we cannot be sure if the action taken is the right one therefore we have to accept responsibility for the decision that we make. We are free to take responsibilities for our actions and because of that we try to create some meaning to our lives, we strive to be the best we can and however the choices we make determines our future, the alternatives will have us remain uncertain because the choice we refused will always leave us in a state of uncertainty.
1 We have the ability to make choices because we are capable of self-awareness. Having self - awareness helps us to realize that we are finite, time is limited and that allows us to make choices, search for purpose and meaning in our lives as we are subject to loneliness, emptiness, isolation and guilt. An example of limited time is being aware of our death and as a result of that we try to motivate ourselves to lead a meaningful life as we have the potential to strive for excellence. We recognize that we are not here forever therefore we try to make the most of our time and to accomplish things sometimes to pass on to our children especially.
2 A philosopher had highlighted the fact that the freedom people have to will, wish and choose can be rather disturbing as we will forever be thinking of what would have happened if we had chosen to do one thing as apposed to another. Having the desire of freedom people are inclined to strive to be the best they can, therefore as long as we have a reason to be living we will choose to make decisions, make choices and that is where we experience anxiety and uncertainty. The aim of the existential therapist is to help the client to deal with their feelings