Existential Psychotherapy Essay

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Existential Psychotherapy Counseling Theories and Strategies Existential Psychotherapy Existential psychotherapy is a powerful approach to therapy which takes seriously the human condition. It is an optimistic approach in that it embraces human potential, while remaining a realistic approach through its recognition of human limitation. Falling in the tradition of the depth psychotherapies, existential therapy has much in common with psychodynamic, humanistic, experiential, and relational approaches to psychotherapy. The father of American Existential Psychotherapy is generally considered to be Rollo May. Author of such works as Love and Will, The Cry for Myth, and Freedom and Destiny, May was heavily influenced by the writings of the philosopher/theologian Paul Tillich (Corey, 2005). In developing an existential approach to therapy, May was also influenced by many of the existential philosophers such as Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, and Heidegger. Yalom, who was influenced heavily by May, is one of the great organizers of existential theory. In his book, Existential Psychotherapy, Yalom organized the breadth of existential theory into four major themes: 1) Freedom (& Responsibility), 2) Death 3) Isolation, and 4) Meaninglessness. According to Yalom, these four existential realities are the root of most psychological problems and have no ultimate answers (Corey, 2005). While other existentialists may be more optimistic about the ability of people to find answers to these questions, it is generally agreed that these four issues are central to the human experience. Another gift of Yalom is his writing. Both May and Yalom were very talented at being able to take abstract, difficult theory and write about it in a language which is much more understandable than many of the other existential writers. While many people are easily intimidated by
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