The importance of using the here and now is based upon assumptions of the importance of interpersonal relationships and the idea of therapy as a social microcosm. Making decisions for clients, especially ones they do not wish to do, is a good way to lose clients — they drop out of therapy.
Strike when the iron is cold — give feedback to clients about a behavior when they are behaving differently. Yalom works from an existential and interpersonal framework — people fall into despair because of relationships that do not satisfy or due to the harsh facts of the human condition.
Have accurate empathy for your clients — they benefit immensely from being fully seen and understood. Clients may resist you being human and resist your disclosure.
We are required to reduce our limitations and relinquish our myth of personal specialness, unlimited potential, imperishability, and immunity to biological laws. Nietzche expresses an opposing view: Be generous with sharing your positive thoughts and feelings about clients, but be genuine and avoid empty compliments.
The second we are focused on being per se, we are filled with wonderment that things are in the world. If it is known to our self and not others, it is secret.
Never or almost never make decisions for a client — we work with unreliable data, biased by the client. Use the here and now to help clients learn empathy themselves, asking clients how their statements and actions might affect others, not forgetting to include yourself, the therapist.
If it is not known to self and also not to others, it is unconscious. If we hope for a therapeutic change, then we must encourage our clients to assume responsibility — that a client must see themselves as having a role in the sequence of events.
Some preoccupied with sex have been exposed to a great threat of death. The Buddha taugh that the question of meaning in life is not edifying and one should immerse oneself into the river of life and let the question drift away.
What deaths have you experienced? Especially useful in group therapy, using here and now experiences. Introduce the idea that you wish to be closer to the client, to know them better, yet the behavior in question distances me and may distance others.
Harry Stack Sullivan said if the therapist develops more anxiety than the client, the client becomes the therapist.
If it is not known to our self yet it is known to others, it is blind.
With whom did you discuss it? Demonstrate your willingness to your client to enter into a deeply intimate relationship with them.
Share your thoughts or dreams of your clients with them, if productive. If we focus on our own feelings, we are less likely to evoke defensiveness — our own feelings cannot be challenged. Use the here and now as a major source of therapeutic power — it refers to the events of the therapeutic hour and to what is happening here in this office and relationship.
In finding meaning, may ask: The relationship with the client should take top priority. When did you first become aware of death? How have your attitudes changed about death?
It is the blind self that therapists target, helping clients see themselves as others see them. We are in the deepest sense, responsible for ourselves and as Sarte put it, we are the authors of ourselves.
To settle for preemptive advice forgoes the opportunity for existential exploration. There is an inequality in the therapeutic relationship — the teacher has many students and the students have but one teacher.
A disclosure has content and process. Confront the topic of death and our defenses based on denial of death — cope with the awareness of death — that learning to live well is to learn to die well. Our interpersonal environment influences us and our self image is formulated to a large degree based upon what we perceive important figures in our lives appraise us to be.
Caveat — physical abuse situations — may need to discourage clients from returning to abusive settings. Find here-and-now equivalents of dysfunctional behavior regarding interpersonal interactions a client is concerned about.
Each hour, check in with the client on the therapist-client relationship — how are we doing today? Explain it was them, not the therapist, who is the magician, who had really helped themselves.Since patients tend to recreate therapy setting in the same interpersonal problems that bedevil them in their lives outside, I focus on what is going on at the moment between a patient and me rather than on the events of his or her past or current life.
The therapist helped this patient to understand his responsibility for his personal predicament by reminding the patient, whenever he discussed his scorn of others, “And you are lonely.” Responsibility is one component of freedom. Existential psychotherapy takes a negative, dark, or pessimistic view of life.
Because writings on existential psychology can be read as pessimistic, due to their view that suffering can be embraced as part of the human existence.
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The following is a list of tips and tidbits I consolidated from Irvin Yalom’s book The Gift of Therapy – An Open Letter to a New Generation of Therapists and Their Patients (Perennial first edition, ). The book is terrific and I recommend reading it.
I strive for my patients to feel heard and supported in my treatment visits. As an avid listener, I enjoy engaging with patients to empower them on their unique, individual healing journeys.
I view myself as a guide to help my patients achieve greater wellness.Download