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The benefits of existentialist psychology

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  1. Introduction.
  2. Existential Psychotherapy.
  3. Awareness of Ultimate Concern ?cw] Anxiety ?cw] Defense Mechanism.
    1. The Capacity for Self-Awareness.
    2. Freedom and Responsibility.
    3. Striving for Identity and Relationships with Others.
    4. Anxiety as a Condition of Living.
  4. Existential Therapy for JD
    1. The Issue of Death.
    2. Existential Loneliness.
  5. Overview of Treatment for the Client.
  6. Conclusion

JD is a 26-year-old Hispanic male with quadriplegia who has been refereed to treatment by his primary care physician. Anxiety and depression appear to be the most prominent issues facing the client at the present time; however, the client both denies suicidal and homicidal ideation and is oriented to time and place. In an effort to help JD address his current mental health needs, this investigation considers how existential therapy may assist this client. Through a careful consideration of the basic tenets of this therapeutic intervention, it will be possible to conceptualize the client and formulate and rationalize a treatment plan utilizing existential psychotherapy.Existential Psychotherapy
In order to begin this investigation, it is first helpful to consider the basic contextual framework of existential psychotherapy. Yalom (1980) in his examination of existential therapy notes that this type of therapy is a dynamic psychotherapy. Critical to this definition is an understanding of what ?dynamic? means. In order to effectively define existential psychotherapy, Yalom goes on to note that the term dynamic ?has a specific technical use that involves the concept of ?force'? (p. 6). Specifically, Yalom argues that Freud's understanding of force provide the most pertinent understanding of dynamic: ?a model that posits that there are forces in conflict within the individual, and that thought, emotion, and behavior, both adaptive and psychopathological, are the resultant of these conflicting forces? (p. 6).

[...] Even though it is evident that it is the therapist's role to raise JD's self- awareness, the reality of this situation may have notable ramifications for JD's overall mental status. In an effort to address the issues associated with the presence of loneliness, Mayers and Svartberg (2001) contend that the therapist must work with the client to see the positive options that are available for the client to improve his or her life. These authors note that the presence of a medical condition may impede the number or choices available to the client; however, in order to empower the client and address the issue of existential loneliness in a positive manner, the therapist should focus on the realistic options available for the client. [...]

[...] The therapist should continue to guide the client along a path that will enable him to garner greater self-awareness and the ability to fully engage in his existence. Covey (2001) notes that by the end of therapy, ?Clients typically discover strengths and find way to them to the service of living a purposeful existence? (p. 158). Conclusion The challenges currently facing JD are quite significant. However, though the application of existential psychotherapy, it is possible that the therapist can give JD the tools that he needs to address these issues over the long-term. In this context, it is evident that therapeutic intervention is aimed at helping [...]

[...] Yalom identifies the following four forces as having the most salient impact on the mental state of the individual: death, freedom, isolation and meaninglessness. ?Existential psychodynamics refers, thus, to these four givens, these ultimate concerns, and to the conscious and unconscious fears and motives spawned by each? (p. 9). Yalom further argues that the following formula can be used for conceptualizing the patient in existential therapy: Awareness of Ultimate Concern Anxiety Defense Mechanism In this perspective, the individual has an awareness of fear and is not being driven by the force of fear. [...]

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