My Philosophical Approach to Counseling
Definition of Existential Therapy
One survey taken by Corey suggests a definition of Existential Therapy include two key elements:
Existential Therapy is essentially an approach to counseling and therapy rather than a firm theoretical model, it stresses core human conditions. Normally, personality development is based on the uniqueness of each individual. Sense of self develops from infancy. Self determination and a tendency toward growth are control ideas. Focus is on the present and on what one is becoming; that is the approach has a future orientation. It stresses self-awareness before action. (1996, p.465)
In layman terms, Existential therapy can be described as a philosophical approach that is not designed to cure people but instead help the client reflect and search for value and meaning in life. Existential Therapy does not supply a cookbook of methods like other approaches but instead it provides a framework that is adaptable to the therapist, in which to view the individual and the world in which they participate.
Definition of Person-Centered (Client-Centered) Therapy
According to Mosby's Medical, Nursing, and Allied Health Dictionary, client-centered therapy is a non directive method of group or individual psychotherapy, originated by Carl Rogers, in which the role of the therapist is to listen to and reflect or restate without judgment or interpretation the words of the client.
Objectives of Existential Therapy
The objectives of Existential Therapy are quite unique. Existential counselors are focused on helping the client achieve and expand their self- awareness. Many Therapist assume once self awareness is achieved, the client can examine new ways of dealing with problems and except the responsibility of choosing.
Objectives of Client-centered Therapy
The objective of client-centered therapy is to assist the client to experience self exploration, so that they can identify problems that are hindering their growth process. Essentially, the main goal of client-centered therapy is to have the client achieve a sense of increased awareness and understanding of his attitudes, feelings, and behaviors.
Existential and client-centered therapy have been criticized for not being "scientific enough". They have been down played as not being empirical and not having a therapeutic model that is firmly set in stone with a set of methods and interventions. A large number of therapist feel that Existential and client-centered therapy are not sound therapeutic approaches for treating and diagnosing adolescents. One main reason for this argument is the existential view toward adolescence. Existentialist view adolescence as a time when a young person begins to gain a sense of awareness on a surface level. After achieving this level, the adolescent gradually starts to focus on self meaning, which takes place through the development of their identity(Hacker, 1994). Existentialist also believe that how the individual conceptilizes death plays a part in the whole being of the person. A survey of 82 students revealed people viewed death as cold and denied. This information indicates death is very influential
in creating anxiety in people (Westman, 1992, p. 1064).
Existential and client-centered therapy have not labeled themselves with a distinct clinical procedure, instead these techniques and concepts have been effective in helping patients to recognize and accomplish their goals. For this reason, I believe existential thought coupled with client-centered therapy are appropriate in treating clients who confront some type of obstacle or major event in their life (confronting death, sudden isolation, changing from childhood to adolescence). David Cain(1993), a person-centered therapist, believes client-centered therapy is not a wise decision for treating clients in some cases, he sites that due...
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