Existential Therapy Paper

Issue of the Client Laura, 47-years old, reported having chronic feelings of dissatisfaction with her life along with recurrent periods of major depression. The mood associated major depression that she experiences include sad mood, loss of interest, difficulties sleeping, fatigue, and self- criticism. Laura also stated that she experiences anxiety in a number of social environments for fear of having nothing to say, coming across as boring, socially inept, and other will then reject her.

Her fear of rejection also explains why Laura has been in a long term relationship for over a decade without planning to commit. She believes that if she fully disclose all the contents of her life to her partner he might see her as being too much to deal with and leave her. Laura also admitted that her fear of social rejection is excessive, and has caused her to let many opportunities drift away. Intervention Model and Key Features: Existential Theory/Therapy The Existential Theory’s focus is on the human lived-experience and mankind’s desire for meaning and purpose in life.

This is accomplished through Existential Therapy. This form of therapy places its focus on the individual’s condition as a whole by using a positive approach that acknowledges an individual’s human capacity. It looks at issues such as love, death and the meaning of life, and how one deals with the sense of value and meanings in their own life. These issues in the Existential Therapy approach are based on the fundamental belief that specific individuals experience intrapsychic conflict due to their interaction with certain conditions essential in human existence called givens.

While the power of one’s past may have had a detrimental influence on their present, in the Existential Therapy approach, it is important to get the client to know who they are now. However, even though the past is not emphasized, it is not ignored. Applying the Model: The Four Givens Freedom Existential freedom cannot be separated from responsibility. With freedom comes responsibility. However, with many individuals, it is common to seek while trying to avoid responsibility. In case Laura’s case, her avoidance of having children is her existential freedom.

She has put off having children for so long that she can no longer have them due to menopause. This consequence is often not very noticeable, but may find expression through quilt, anxiety, depression, or even anger. Another way to escape responsibility is when one starts to think they are powerless. An individual can perceive themselves as a victim of their environment, their unconsciousness, or of their genetic makeup. When Laura is placed in a number of different social situations she feels as though she has no power.

She avoids taking leadership opportunities (e. g. being the speaker at an engagement), because she feels she may come across as foolish. The goal of this existential approach is to get Laura to understand that although these factors may influence a person, but none of them will render her powerless. Death When dealing with existential death it is important to not only consider the realities of physical death, but also various forms of symbolic death. Many people deny the reality of death by avoiding to live. An individual may avoid investing in any relationships and experiencing love, because of fear of being hurt or rejected.

These people go through life terrified to live. Therefore, they believe that if they do not really live, they will not actually die. Growing up Laura has always wanted love and affection from her father, but she never got that. After he died she felt that she had lost an opportunity to get close to someone who meant so much to her. As a result, Laura stopped trying to get close to someone in case she were to lose them before loving them. Although Laura claims to have a good relationship wither her partner of 15 years, she had admitted to keeping her distance.

She does not disclose personal issues or troubles, or shares her private thoughts for fear of being seen as a complainer. Therefore she keeps her relationship at a distance that is comfortable for her without putting herself fully out there to get potentially get hurt. In existential death, in order to experience the beauty of life an individual must allow themselves to become vulnerable to death and anxiety. A common phrase or cliche that is used within existential therapy at times is, “what would you do if you knew you were going die next week or next month”.

People do not want to love what they know can be taken away. Isolation Existential isolation speak of the actuality that we cannot overcome our isolation. This type of isolation can occur without the individual knowing, but it is nonetheless very real. It is the feeling an individual might get when wanting to tell someone close every single thing from pains to triumphs, but in the end they choose not to do not. Individuals may feel that no matter how much of their life they disclose no one will understand them, because they feel as though no one has ever understood them.

Existential isolation is also none as loneliness. Although Laura is not physically lonely, she has not fully opened up to her partner for fear that he may reject her and leave her lonely. Growing up Laura would try so hard to get her parents to understand and accept her, however, she felt her efforts failed. Developing feelings of existential isolation early, Laura figured that if her own parents could did not understand her there was no point in trying to get other in her life to. As a result, she has let friendships slip away and keeps her intimate relationship at a distance.

Meaninglessness This particular existential given begs the questions: What is the meaning of life? Why do we live? Why were we put here? What do we live for? What do we live by? Meaning is the quintessential of the existential givens. It is meaning that can make life worth living to an individual. The end of freedom, death, and isolation all point to meaning. Ultimate meaning is what assist in the surpassing of the existential issues of the other givens, including meaninglessness itself. This type of meaning necessitates relationship with others or a higher power.

When one lives with no meaning, goals, or values they become more vulnerable to depression. It may seem that Laura does in fact have goals and values seeing that she has a law degree working as a partner in a law firm. However, Laura’s most recent reports say other She has reported having feelings of dissatisfaction in her life resulting in recurrent episodes of major depression. Laura has also avoided setting any real goals when it came to her relationship with her long term partner, and with that the meaning she puts on her relationship seems slim to none.

It is meaning that can sustain an individual and help them truly live. Important Aspects of the Existential Theory/Therapy Existential therapy encourages people to face the many emotional issues they face through full engagement and take responsibility for the choices they make to help them to develop. When in the existential process of therapy for Laura it is the therapist job not to focus on the past, but rather work with Laura to explore the decisions that are in front of her. However retrospection is used to understand the implications of Laura’s past choices and her beliefs that led her to make them.

This would be referring to her relationship with her parents, or the lack there of. Getting Laura to understand her past can help her to take control of her present. Through dialogue, a Laura way of seeing the world is exposed, and their assumptions about their issues and fears of not being liked or loveable are re-examined. In the Existential Theory/therapy approach the goal is about accepting that life and work involves both pleasure and pain, sadness and joy, success and failure, good and bad.