Yalom's Perspective of Existential Therapy

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Yalom's Perspective of Existential Therapy

Existential therapy through the eyes of Dr. Yalom is very fascinating. There is never a fixed life that each person is supposed to live. In his therapy the clients are allowed to find out for themselves what it is they need by receiving adequate questioning from Dr. Yalom. His questioning guides them down the existential path to freedom and responsibility.

"If we affirm life and live in the present as fully as possible, however, we will not be obsessed with the end of life"(Corey p.153). This is the way of thinking for the existential theorist when it comes to patients who deal with death anxiety. Dr. Yalom dealt with this issue when he did a study on bereavement. He put an ad in the paper that asked for volunteers who would be willing to be interviewed. In order to meet the requirements the people had to have grief in their life that they were unable to overcome. A chapter in Yalom's book titled The Wrong One Died went into detail about a woman named Penny. Penny had lost a daughter four years prior to the interview. When she showed up at the office she told the secretary that she needed to see the Dr. Yalom immediately. Penny's life was a struggle ever since the tragedy of losing her daughter. In explaining the reason for not being able to let it go after such a long time, she mentioned how she felt responsible for horrible death. After a few meetings of therapy Penny came to realize that her daughter was not coming back, and she began to deal with the real issues that were causing her so much pain. She told Dr. Yalom that the way she handled her daughter's death made her feel extremely guilty. So guilty that she couldn't even remember the actual dying process tha...

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.... This is where the freedom comes in. If the Therapist were to force something on the client by saying this is what's wrong, and here is how you fix it, they might head in the right direction at first, but not because of their own will. By allowing them to make a conscious effort to help themselves it will mean more and last longer. In reading this book I learned a lot about the way existential therapy works, and how I can go about helping people that come to me for advise. Not only do I understand that people have the freedom to make there own choices, but also now I understand that people have the freedom of responsibility which allows them to change their lives and better themselves.


Works Cited

1) Corey, Gerald Theory and Practice of Counseling and Psychotherapy, 6th edition, Brooks and Cole, Stamford, CT p. 153.
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