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Existential Therapy Essay

The existential approach is more of a collective group of thoughts rather than a concrete therapy. The existential approach guides the counseling practices. The premise is that individuals guide their own lives and create their own paths.

The existential approach unlike psychoanalytical therapy of unconscious boundaries and limitations is based on the fundamental belief that “we are what we choose to be (Corey 2009).” The key concepts are known as the 6 propositions of the 1) Capacity for Self-Awareness, 2) Freedom and Responsibility 3) Striving for Identity and Relationships to Others 4) The Search for Meaning 5) Anxiety as a Condition of Living 6) Awareness of Death and Nonbeing (Corey 2009). Historical/Contextual development of the theory.

The existential theory was not created by any one in particular although it was influenced by both philosophers/writers and psychoanalysts in response for the need to assist people in resolving issues of life such as isolation, alienation and meaninglessness. This occurred spontaneously throughout Europe during the 1940’s and 1950’s (Corey 2009).

Role of the therapist
The role of the therapist is to prompt and empower clients to take a look at life, past and present. In doing so, the client can review what worked and did not work in their lives. Once the best course of action is discovered the client can move towards making better choices and governing a life path completely within the client’s control and satisfaction. Research support for the theory.

According to Corey, Sharf, 2008, stated that there is a distinct lack of studies that directly evaluate and examine the existential approach. This is due largely to the fact that the existential approach uses techniques from other theories in its application. Gestalt Theory

Key Concepts/Unique Attributes
The concepts of Gestalt Theory are that of the expectation that all human’s must grow, mature and take responsibility for their own lives. Additionally it is of the premise that we all have the power and ability to do so. This theory further promotes the idea that we are motivated by and deal with external and internal drives that influence our behavior and actions. Some things we may be aware of and some things we may not.

Historical/Contextual development of the theory
Role of the therapist The therapist must guide the client to the point of becoming fully present, in the here and now. By fully living in the now the client and begin to understand who they truly are and instead of futilely trying to work at not being something, they can work and strengthen who they are. The therapist will introduce new ideas and concepts to the client in order to get the client to try new behavior approaches and discover how the new behaviors affect their lives. Research support for the theory.

A number of studies and reviews have been done by various members in the field of counseling but there is no concrete data proving that Gestalt is either the best or that outcomes support or refute its effectiveness (Gestalt Theory, 2012).

Corey, G. (2009). Case approach to counseling and psychotherapy (8th ed.). Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole. Gestalt Theory Oneness and Intergrated Wholeness. Retrieved March 29, 2012 from www.gestalttheory.com.


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