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Existential Therapy also referred to as counseling is an approach to the core reasons as to the existence of human beings. It is a theory that aims at answering questions on; 1) The existence of a human being and the reasons for the short lifespan, 2) The freedom of individuals to make informed decisions, 3) Challenges that face human beings and 4) The threat posed by meaningless of what life has to offer. These four items referred to as given (Cooper, 2003), form the framework in which the psychotherapist knows how to deal with an individual’s problem and their collective remedy.
It is a therapy that aims at raising the hopes of individuals and making them aware of the fact that they are the author of their lives. It provides relief to individuals who have lacked the meaning of life. The theory views human beings as individuals who go through gradual change and transformation within a given period of their lives. This is through their strengths and weaknesses and the opportunities, freedom, limitations and threats in the environment, in which they grow. Existential Therapy aims at achieving some specific goals which include; 1) Creating self awareness to individuals and encouraging people to live authentic lives, 2) It encourages individuals to take responsibility of decision they make, 3) It encourages individuals to find meaning of life and the underlying truths, 4) Therapists help individuals to deal with situations of anxiety by examining the cause of anxiety and helping them cope with the situation, 5) It helps individuals appreciate their present lives and live to the maximum.
Adlerian therapy, named after an Australian doctor who was also a psychotherapist and his name was Alfred Adler. Adler believed that individuals were connected to the surrounding environment. It is a therapy that revolves around human beings right from birth, the lifestyle the individual lives, the social interaction of individuals and the superiority and inferiority complex of individuals as the building blocks of an individual’s personality. Therefore, it is a therapy that aims at getting to know individuals in their social context. Adler advocated for equality of all human beings and a democratic way of raising children from birth within a family. The Adlerian Therapy addresses the problem of self actualization and esteem of individuals and its negative effects to an individual's health. It is a therapy that touches on the creative power of an individual geared towards a change for the better (Connell, 1995). The therapy aims at achieving the following goals; 1) To do away with false beliefs by understanding the family roots, hopes of the family and past memories, 2) To improve the social relations and interests of individuals in their environment, 3) To change the destructive behavior of individuals, and4) To help in solving problems amicably.
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Therapists view of client’s problem using these two therapies.
While using the existential approach therapists tries to assist the clients understand themselves better. They work together with their clients and help them explore and understand their beliefs, ideas, judgments and assumptions. Thus, the therapist tries his best not to impose their own judgment and biases to their clients. The therapist is expected to show professionalism, while handling his clients and avoid his preconceptions. The therapist is expected to give his wise counsel based on the client’s experiences and conditions rather than what the therapist thinks ought to be the case. He is expected to approach the clients’ problem with an open-ended mind. The therapist is expected to form a relationship with the client with an aim getting a clear picture of the client’s meaning without an influence of their own meaning. The therapists have to be aware of the client’s assumptions and their view of life with clarity so that the client is not confused. The therapist helps the client understand and make maximum use of their strengths and opportunities for their own good and at the same time helps the clients counter their weaknesses and limitations. Therapists are expected to value the meaning attached to beliefs, emotions, thoughts and culture of the client.
It is also expected that, therapist should view the clients problems in a framework comprising of four parts as described here; 1) Existence of the client in the physical environment, the health of the client and his illness, 2) The social interaction dimension of the client with the public, 3) The personal relation i.e. relationship with oneself and with others, 4) Spiritual relationship and the philosophical meanings. This framework gives the therapist an idea of the client’s world.
The existential therapy seeks a deeper meaning of these four dimensions and therefore it understands perfectly well the existence of human beings.
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