"The Only Thing You Have To Be at The Age of 23 Is Yourself.."

I have beef with Existentialist Therapy! While obtaining a Bachelors in Psychology I was required to take several Counseling and Psychotherapy courses as a requirement to graduate, including a Psychotherapy Lab, where I provided counseling sessions with freshman. Throughout my studies Existentialism was never my favourite train of thought when it came to helping one deal with their issues. Carl Rogers was not my best topic to essay on. In Person Centered Therapy it is very different than in other forms of therapy in that it is a way of thinking about life, rather than a specific set of therapeutic techniques. It focuses primarily on awareness and free will. It states that we, as persons, have freedoms, responsibilities and choices to live as we wish. The existential therapist focuses on helping the person become aware of how she is handling her freedom. As the client learns to accept responsibility for her choices, she can create a life of meaning and purpose, based upon her own sense of her deepest truth

The therapist’s role is to help the client along the path to discover why the client feels the way he/she does. How to integrate feelings of loneliness, helplessness and meaningless into personal responsibility and how to deal with these emotions and make change because the client has the right and the ability to do so. Existentialist therapist tend to not focus on ones past experiences, but to look to the present day choices and future actions in order to change and integrate feelings.

To obtain these inner-most thoughts and feelings and “direct” the client down the path he/she chooses the therapist must take on a role of creating an authentic relationship. The client/therapist relationship in Person Centered/Existentialist therapy is one of the most important aspects. The therapist feels that he/she must show the client his/her own integrity, courage and empathy and in this relationship the client will learn how to relate to another person and realize the faulty thinking. Carl Rogers came up with the theory of: “Unconditional Positive Regard”. This is achieved by being empathetic and accepting to the clients self and establishing strong relationships. This UPR will allow the client the background and foundation to find themselves, make change or develop a stronger sense of self.

To me this all sounds like the 70’s, Free Love, Love Heals All, Love Lift Us Up Where We Belong…need I go on? Or the best friend that is a ‘yes ma’am/man” Whatever you say, I will believe, I believe in you, nothing you do is wrong because YOU are choosing to do this and you have the right to do it and I will support you from my therapist chair while you do it. Hmmm…This sounds lovely eh?? Forgive me if I can’t buy it. I feel it creates a blockage with people who are going that did not receive UPR and feel the need to be accepted/granted permission etc. with decisions in life. To have therapy lay out as an open road where all is good and nothing is banned from conversation causes more anxieties for these folks than necessary.
A little direction please? I bet you are thinking: Any direction is the right direction because it is the one that you chose...Right?? Am I right?
…Damn Existentialist!


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