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Home Журналы EXISTENTIA 2008.1.294-298 SUMMARY
EXISTENTIA 2008.1.294-298 SUMMARY PDF Печать E-mail
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18.08.2009 16:39

Irina Gluhova (Belarus) Psychotherapy in the changing world

Psychotherapy can be viewed as one of social practices, the texture of which forms, as it is considered today, the
life of modern society. That is why it is also considered, that in forms and contents of psychotherapeutic activity
processes happening in the society are taking place as well.

Despite at first being the active criticism of existing persuasions and assumptions in culture, in time psychotherapy became one of the main defenders of our modern Zeitgeist. In the minds of the society, psychotherapy became connected with striving towards common sense and rationality. It is often viewed as the desired panacea for the psychosocial disorders and dysfunctions.

Another notion, widely used by modern social theory to determine, describe and analyze new realities of the social life, is globalization. The phenomenon of globalization can be viewed as a sum of characteristics of ideas, processes, activities, behaviors and world views. Globalization has no strict boundaries, it owns an all-pervading character, being present „here-and-now“.

And when in a changing and globalizing world human nature still strives towards safety and stability, the only
way to achieve it seems to be by himself, not through traditions and habits. Life style is the reality that each person creates nowadays and where globalization is taking its full effect.

Coming across the necessity to change the behavior under the influence of modern global trends, the bigger
amount of population manages to survive, adjusting themselves as much as they can and have to. There are those, who is searching for alternatives and there are those, who are not able to fit in to the new borders and developments of the society and, considering themselves to be inferior, become clients in therapy, where therapists who have mastered the ways of understanding the world, can be of help to them.

Emmy van Deurzen (Great Britain) Existentialism and existential psychotherapy

Approaching psychotherapy from an existential perspective is to see that a dialectical process manages all these tensions of human existence. Conflicts are constantly generated and then overcome, only to be reasserted in a new form. Paradoxes are inevitable and life flows out of contradictory forces working against and with each other.

The existential psychotherapist has as primary task to recognize together with the client the specific tensions that are at work in the client’s life. This requires a process of careful scrutiny and description of the client’s experience and a gradually growing familiarity with the client’s particular situation and stance in the world. The psychotherapeutic process of existential therapy is then to elicit, clarify and put into perspective all the current issues and contradictions that are problematic.

Part of the work consists in enabling the client to come to terms with the inherent contradictions of human living. Another part of it is to help clients find a satisfactory direction for their future life with a full recognition of the paradoxes that have to be faced in the process. Ultimately the therapeutic search is about allowing the client to reclaim personal freedom and a willingness and ability to be open to the world in all its complexity.

Existential psychotherapy can take many different shapes and forms, but it always requires a philosophical exploration of what is true for the client. When this exploration is conducted satisfactorily and fully it often leads to a greater recognition of what is true for human beings in general, affording the beginning of a genuinely philosophical stance, which may make it easier to tackle life’s inevitable darkness and adversity. In time it may even lead to that elusive objective of all philosophy that makes everything worthwhile, ordinary, hard earned, human wisdom.

Simon du Plock (Gret Britain) Research and the Existential-Phenomenological Psychotherapist

What Do We Mean When We Use The Word ‘Research’? Despite it being quite a commonly used word, the author of the article contemplates the existential-phenomenological nature of the research and what it means for existential practitioners, because a phenomenological perspective enables the researcher to uncover the assumptions implicit in the text, and notice the ways in which ‘unbiased’ commentators re-write their clients according to their own script. Whereas the word ‘research’ itself can seem intimidating and many might feel that they are strangers to it, but if we ask ourselves, when do we think we are doing research, answers to that question would go beyond typical understanding and use of the word to many aspects in life.

In addition to that, if we consider the idea of research to be not just a hurdle to get over, but more seriously as a personal journey of discovery, or perhaps re-search, a continual transformative process rather than a discrete event, it would change our perspective of the matter. However, research must not remain only of personal significance if it is to have any impact on professional practice – it must be disseminated, and evaluated by others.

In short, good research is a living thing: it should leap off the page to revitalize some aspect of our way of being as therapists. In doing so it mirrors the characteristic of good therapy, that there is a genuine connection between the meaning worlds of client and therapist and, in the meeting, some sharing of experience. Research that is dead on the page cannot be resuscitated to invigorate practice.

Andrei Gronsky (Russia) Where is the existentialism of Gestalt-therapy?

The place of Gestalt-therapy in the classification of methods does not have a single meaning. Some think Gestalttherapy to belong to existential approach, some to humanistic, third consider it to be a separate movement, which cannot be put into a generally accepted category.

Fritz Pearls saw the existentialism of Gestalt-therapy in the transition from the position of „I own“ to the position of „I am“. The position of owning, according to him, brings the split into the integrity of being, whereas being is considered to be a process in Gestalt-therapy. It is equal to nothingness or emptiness and this notion has found a reflection in the concept of perception, which itself is a constant process.

As Jerald Cory wrote, „Gestalt-therapy is existential because it is based on here-and-now and emphasizes a personal choice and responsibility, while it also is phenomenological in emphasizing the individual view of the world and the input each person makes into formation of personal experience and feelings and into organizing the world around oneself “.

Ivars Bauls (Latvia) Authenticity as a result of psychotherapeutic work and phenomenon of existence

Authenticity is a word used widely in and out of context. The author of the article found it important to understand the meaning of this phenomenon not only inside of himself to come to a more specific understanding, but also in the work with the client.

As the author argues, there is nothing more interesting in the phenomenon of authenticity than the fact, that it means nothing specific, which means that no action or feeling cannot be called authentic or unauthentic out of context of personal experience. That is where the complexity of understanding and interpretation lies, because authenticity is the description of the way of being that we choose ourselves, where our life is real and not artificial, where we have the courage to look at things that cause anxiety and interract with it. It is a state, that is always there in front of us, but it is the state we are always trying to avoid.

Rimantas Kociunas (Lithuania) Truth and psychotherapy

The article discusses the question of truth in the practice of existential therapy. In this context, the relation of truth and lie or falsehood is important, both in human relations in general, and, more specifically, in the client‘s and therapist‘s communication in the process of psychotherapy. This relation is inseparable from the language which we use to express (or conceal) our own truths. It is obvious that words appear to be a very imperfect means to express truths, since the truth commonly lies „beyond words“. In many cases, „stories“, „descriptions“ or, in general, any verbal narratives allow to distort or conceal truth. The relation of psychotherapeutic „theories“ and „models of usefullness“ (A. Mahrer) is discussed. The latter is supposed to also include existential therapy: it sceptically views possibilities that final or objective truths may exist at all and emphasizes subjectivity of any truths. On the other hand, this may pose certain threats to a therapist tempting to make “a deal” with a client in accepting his/her distorted perspective of reality, in helping to conceal its truths and also avoiding, together with the client, to bring forward painful aspects of life. A therapist should seek to maintain the perspective of life of the client as wide as possible with more attention to what is true for the client and what is provided by these truths in his/her everyday life. Even without acceptance of clients’ truths, it is possible to try to understand and respect their choice.

Ginta Ratniece (Latvia) Diagnostics of personality and existential understanding of the client.

When talking about diagnostics of personality in modern usage of the word, two dimensions are assumed – level of organization of psyche (neurotic, border-line or psychotic) and character (depressive, obsessive-compulsive and so on).

Psychoanalytic authors, who write about diagnostics, use arguments to support the diagnostics of personality of clients, and denounce debatable questions and drawbacks of the process.

Almost everything, that can be said about individual patterns of the character, even in the context of acceptance of main psychoanalytic approach, is debatable. Many concepts that are central in analytic thinking, not only cannot be systematically experimentally studied and valued, but due to the intricate power of its nature resist its specific application and use, that it is difficult to imagine how they can be proven empirically.

However, diagnostics specialists themselves admit, that one of the reasons why psychodiagnostics has a bad reputation is that it is conducted not on the highest level: people are simply given a label, which is based only on client’s complaints. In long-term therapy the meaning of thorough diagnostics might be most important in two cases: in the beginning of therapy and at the moments of crises or stagnations, when the re-comprehension of client’s personality structure may be the key to effective change of therapy.

As the author of the article emphasizes, what is important is the balance between knowledge and lived experience, uncertainty, creativity. Knowledge may be universal, but each meeting with a person is unique. There may be guidelines, but the therapist and client use their own feet to walk the road.

Anzelika Munasipova (Russia) Memento mori: finiteness in life and in psychotherapy

Time doesn’t go by. Time is standing still. It is you who is going by.

With this epigraph the author of the article begins the contemplative search into the meaning of the word „finiteness“ and the meaning of it for each and every one of us, for no one can deny the importance of the topic for us all.

The author describes the personal experience of death of close ones and also the time of work as a volunteer at a hospital, seeing many dying patients, some of whom died quite unexpectedly, others knew they were dying. The latter could be divided into two groups: those, who denied this truth about themselves and those, who accepted it (and were glad to discuss this topic, their fears and feelings).

In life and therapy finiteness is connected to the experience of suffering, when people get in touch with life, when what is needed most is the patience to suffer genuinely, to reconsider the values. In such moments such things as „authenticity“ and „sincerity“ enter the lives and with them the meanings of „responsibility“, „choice“ and „freedom“.

However, author also emphasizes the spread understanding of finiteness in the negative context, when the main effort is to forget the unpleasant things that have happened and move on, whereas reflecting on what the experience of suffering and collision with finiteness has brought into the life can hold possibilities to transfer the lived experience into future life.

Death is the deepest and meaningful fact in the lives of people and only the fact of death raises the question about the meaning of life, for life holds meaning only because there is death and the meaning is connected to finiteness.

Victor Kagan (USA) My old people: therapeutic ethos of old age

Even though old age is the period when Yalom’s pointed out givens of existence (inevitability of death of each of us and those we love; freedom to do with our life what we want; our existential loneliness and lack of any kind of unconditional and self-evident meaning of life) are represented most fully and brightly, a little is done in work with patients of this age.

However, when does old age begin? Speaking from the point of view of existentia, old age is when a man feels old and builds his life from this point of view. By itself it does not determine the contents of experience of old age and the topic of death is rarely used as the problem with which people turn for help, however, it usually appears on the surface when working with psychological problems and psychosomatics and emotional symptoms, through which the restrained and denied fear of death comes into the actual life.

Old age is the time when people get ready for death. No matter what people consider their givens of existence to be, they are all full of getting ready to leaving, which is inevitably coming closer, and for therapist working with old people means coming across their own fears about the finiteness of life.

Despite all that, death anxiety does not only manifest in fear and terror, but holds potential for improvement of quality of life in general and in old age in particular and for the therapist – potentials for his personal and professional growth.

Genovaite Petronene (Lithuania) Spiritual aspects of psychotherapy that psychotherapists do not speak about

Psychotherapy is closely connected with spiritual dimension. As religion is no longer the subject of scorn and many psychologists view its positive traits, psychotherapy is returning to its roots – becoming applied philosophy of life.

Spiritual dimension, spiriatuality is a complex phenomenon, which is undivivdedly connected with other mental processes, meaning that it is a process, during which person goes beyond his own limits.

The author of the article researches the reasons for spirituality aspect to still be neglected in therapy, describes how the therapy would look like without spirituality and gives specific examples of spirituality in the context of therapy, finally noting, that as soon as therapists start more freely talking about spirituality, they will realize there is no different between „life“ and „spiritual life“ and being alive means being spiritually alive.

Aiva Rosenberga (Latvia) Spirituality in everyday life and psychotherapy

The rising interest in spirituality since the 1970s that has led to the acknowledgement of the significance of spirituality and its integration in therapy is explored—interest that is also exemplified in a considerable body of research that has been conducted in the marriage and family therapy field, exploring correlations between marital satisfaction, marital quality and spirituality. As well as in studies conducted to discover clients’ expectations in terms of spirituality in therapy.

Particular interest from the interdisciplinary perspective is paid to the development of the concept of spiritual marriage/spiritual relationships/conscious relationships/ a spiritual approach to marriage in psychotherapy literature and practice as well as in theory and practice of pastoral counseling and spiritual direction. It is proposed that working with people in significant relationships, addressing such issues as meaning-making, integration of daily living, relationality and spirituality, deepens clients’ relationships with the Divine, strengthens mutual spiritual intimacy in the context of interdependent supportive relationships and fosters heeling and psycho-spiritual development of each partner. Simultaneously it is suggested to be aware of the complexities of relational dynamics and necessity to avoid the trap of the oversimplification of the correlation between spirituality and relationships as unarguably promoting marital satisfaction and personal growth.

Serafima Kuznetsova (Estonia) Meetings with absurd in the psychotherapeutic dialogue. Existential approach.

The time when I wrote, created has passed, when I thought that I was discovering truths that I need to deliver to all other people, because they do not know about it.

I have become more experienced and quiet. I am writing about my doubts, of the dark spots of absurdity in my professional life to test myself, to move forward.

And not far off is the time, when I will know that I was completely wrong and there is no point in testing that. And then what? I still, being absurdly free, will go on writing, watching and creating, even if there will be point in it.

In the beginning of therapy the client lives for the therapist and then, being liberated, he learns to live for himself. Intervention into his subjective world is the end of freedom. That is why, according to Kierkegaard, co-existence of two people is under constant threat, danger for each member of a psychotherapeutic dialogue. To risk or to wait till all is over? Far away or close? Is this important when experiencing therapy sessions with a client or something completely different? And here the conceptual code of rules wouldn’t help and the logical chain would fall apart. Client is lost, psychotherapist is stuck. Co-experience of absurd of „groundlessness“ according to L.Shestov is the „ground“ for change. The way out of absurdity in psychotherapy is creative work, or to be exact, constant creation of the therapeutic space. Overcoming the pressure of the world together, perceiving the world differently, the identity of the client becomes an existence and the therapeutic process becomes existential.

Describing the experienced moments of absurd in psychotherapeutic dialogues, creating out of nothingness, did I manage to overcome or broaden the boundaries of factuality and remain myself ? That is up to you to decide, dear collegues.

Olga Vassiljeva (Estonia) Existential approach to working with addictions

In this article the author is looking at theoretical and practical aspects of working with gambling addicts, the urgency of the problem, main stages of development of the disease. Author also summarizes and analyzes 3 years of working experience for a project to help gambling addicts, that took place in Estonia, analyzes the social portrait of the gambler, who he is, how he is, what the main difficulties are. Then the author analyzes help programme she and her colleagues used to work with gambling addicts ØC main stages, difficulties, nuances. And in the end author’s view of understanding of existential aspect of this therapy is shared.

Olga Petkevicha (Latvia) Use of drawing when working with children in traumatic situations

Art-therapy is a form of psychotherapy, which is based on art and fine arts and creative activities first of all. Art-therapy gives the possibility to re-play the most psychotraumatic situations: misunderstanding on the part of close ones, they coldness or hyper-care, betrayal, grief, loss, heavy illness, old age, loss of trust towards the world and so on. It helps understand the inner world, to understand own potential and value the possibilities of a change. Creating something, people have a possibility to step aside from the experience and to understand it.

Using drawing when individually working with children, who are in a critical, traumatic situation, is very effective. When drawing, the child gives his feelings and experiences, dreams a way out, models and transforms his reality, re-builds his attitude to different situations and painlessly touches upon scary, unpleasant and traumatizing images.

The virtue of the method lies not only in the fact that drawing allows itself to be expressed fully and replay psychotraumatic situations, but also that it demands a coordinated use of many mental functions: thinking, ability to express oneself in speech, imagination, memory, visual-motor coordination and so on.

Thus, drawing as art expression is connected with strengthening of child’s mental health; using it is the means of comprehension of the surrounding reality and child’s possibilities, as a significant psychological and correcting factor. It has the role of the psychotherapeutic function, which helps the child to relive traumatic events and situations, re-establish emotional balance, form psychological defenses and grow up.

Genovaite Petronene (Lithuania) „We could do so much and so creatively in sexual perspective“ or working with demonstrativeness

Describing the case with the client, an actress, who was suffering from panic attacks (strong enough to make the client suicidal), the author of the article notes the journey that the client has undertaken throughout the therapy, working with her sexuality, family problems, personal relationships. The author notes that acting is a good profe0ssion to cure people who tend to pass some feelings to be other ones. A demonstrative person is always acting, as if it all suddenly became much more beautiful, however, when that is transferred to a profession, one understands that one acts rather artificially and talking about how to act „for real” means working with defense mechanisms. Then the transformation to more authentic and ripe forms of oneself comes, where meditaion is clearing up the histerical chaos and calms down.

Ieva Bite (Latvia) My best friend: description of a psychotherapeutic case.

Describing the case, the author of the article is speaking about the work with a client of seven years. This client’s case was described by the therapist in the final studies in existential institute as well as in sand therapy – hesitations between the feeling of worthlessness and the feeling of grandeur , idealization and devaluation of others, impossibly high demands from self, feeling of being an unhappy victim of fate, depression, hidden aggression – all the feelings client had and the therapist could relate to found reflection in therapist’s written works.

Speaking of changes one encounters in the therapeutic work with internal and external worlds, therapists compares it to climbing up a circular stairs, whereas when climbing it one from time to time returns to the same spot of the circle, only on a higher level. And, as if giving an example to it, the author describes three circles that the client was going through and how each time despite the problems, a solution to life was found.

Обновлено 22.08.2009 15:41