Monday, August 22, 2011


 (Continued from previous post)

On the other hand, however, there are cultures that may not respond well to the existentialistic approach if not practiced in tandem with other more directed, goal oriented models of counseling. Also, with its emphasis on self, the humanistic approach may not appeal to cultures that value interdependence and cooperation, such as Latinos, Africans, Asians and people from other indigenous cultures.

Although a humanistic approach can be beneficial with most clients, the complement of existentialism may limit the effectiveness of this type of therapy with adolescents (unless they are unusually high functioning and able to deal with abstract concepts) and children. It is unlikely that these populations will have the interest, insight, and/or ability to maximize the advantages of the existential-humanistic approach. Questions of morals, spirituality, and ethics are central in an existential discussion. If clients are not in touch with these aspects of life or are unwilling to acknowledge or discuss these concepts, the existential approach will probably fail. Therefore, the younger population needs a more concrete, focused and goal oriented type of therapeutic approach such as cognitive behaviorism.

Also included in this category are adults who are especially concrete thinkers and very goal oriented, who, most likely, will be frustrated with this type of therapy. The subjectivity of existentialism would be a serious barrier to clients who need a more clear and concise approach in therapy.

One of the criticisms of existentialism is that it does not focus enough on results and attainment of goals. Because of this, there is a danger of getting too involved in intellectualism and neglecting successful outcomes for the client. Another disadvantage along these same lines is that this therapeutic approach does not fit well with the requirements and objectives of most community mental health centers that are oriented toward measurable outcomes. Therefore, the use of existentialism is limited with clients connected with these institutions.

The existential therapeutic model emphasizes concepts of accountability and responsibility. If clients are not disposed to taking personal responsibility for their actions, thinking and behaviors, and are not self-directed and proactive, it is unlikely that they will be successful in this type of therapy.

Another disadvantage of this approach is that, because it focuses on individuals perceptions and their relationships with others, clients who have difficulty separating their issues from surrounding environments and institutions may feel conflicted and anxious. For instance, ignoring clients’ relationship to the world around them can be frustrating. For example, if clients perceive that part of their issues is a result of forces beyond their control (e.g. work environment, government and other institutions) it may be counterproductive to approach them existentially.

Existentialists believe that anxiety and dread, death and dying, powerlessness and despair are a natural part of life and that these concepts must be discussed in order to affect positive change. If clients are averse to exploring these concepts, they may be blocked to the existential approach. In addition, clients who are in acute pain or trauma do not usually respond well to this kind of therapy and need more immediate action and relief from their suffering. Lengthy discussions of the pain and struggle of life would only exacerbate their personal anguish.


ESCHER ART (before computers; so fantastic!)
As with any therapeutic model, the existentialism-humanism model is best used judiciously with the appropriate client population. Whereas some clients can derive the most benefit from this type of counseling, especially those who are very verbal and able to deal with abstract ideas, this model also translates well in use with a broad range of clients, including those from other cultures, races and ethnic backgrounds. In particular, the positive, optimistic, and person-centered approach of humanism appeals to most clients and opens channels of communication leading to positive outcomes.

Though there are some clients who are best served by other counseling models, especially younger clients and those who have limited abilities in communication and the conception of ambiguous constructs, most can still benefit from a basic humanistic approach. An awareness of each existential-humanistic model’s advantages and disadvantages is imperative to its most effective application. Success with this type of counseling ultimately depends on therapists’ abilities and sensitivity in applying existentialism-humanism to the client population that is best suited for this type of counseling.

                                       and MY ROAD TO EXISTENTIALISM  1  and  2

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