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Existential Therapy: A Cultural Perspective.

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RUNNING HEAD: EXISTENTIAL THERAPY: A CULTURAL PERSPECTIVE Existential Therapy: A Cultural Perspective Danielle S Green University of Phoenix November 13, 2003 Existential Therapy: A Cultural Perspective Existential psychology understands human beings are fundamentally engaged with their worlds. Accordingly, culture can be understood to be the expression of that engagement, and therefore, related to psychology. Humans are social creatures. Therefore, human beings must be understood in relation to their world and their broader cultural context. When considering all the therapies and theories of psychology, the existential approach is the most applicable when working with culturally diverse clients. In 1999, Vontress and colleagues wrote that existential counseling is probably the most useful approach to helping clients of all cultures finding meaning and harmony in their lives (as cited in Corey, 2001, p.163). In its simplest terms, existentialism studies how people live in the world across all cultures and socioeconomic groups. Because all men and women face the same basic issues of love, suffering, and death, existentialism is really a universal philosophy of life. ...read more.


Depending on one's theoretical view, a main strength and/or weakness of existential therapy is it does not solely rely on science to decipher the intangibles of life such as happiness, meaning, love, and morality. It recognizes that each human being must form a personal definition of these concepts which can be informed by science, but must be guided by philosophical theory. Accordingly, when studying human experience, the questions that ought to guide the inquiries of existential therapists are as follows: 1) How does the world matter to this person?, 2) What does a persons world reveal about him/her?, and 3) What can an individual life or a specific psychological symptom, reveal about our world and all of us who participate in this world? These types of questions usually provide valuable information and meanings of the client's world to the counselor. The existential technique and procedure is divided into three main phases. ...read more.


Their world includes their bodies, race, gender, class, families, society, culture, and history. They then use this information to form a plan toward a purposeful existence and mental health within the context of their culture. Mental health is more than the absence of psychological symptoms or locating one's self within some statistical norm. It is being in balance and harmony with one's inner-self; with one's friends, family, and colleagues; with one's physical environments; and one's spirituality. The existential standard of mental health is a higher standard; and the existential counselor examines every sphere of the client's life to ensure each portion is fulfilled. (Epp, 1998, para.45) From an existential view, our relationship with the world is fundamental, essential and primary. Psychology is not considered to be just human behavior. It is the world according to a human being and the meaning created within this relationship. Since the existential therapy focuses on the human experience, it is a powerful tool when it is utilized to incorporate cultural experiences into a client's therapy. ...read more.

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