In graduate school I had to take a class on counseling theory. As part of the class we had to choose a theory that would carry us the rest of our class work as well as through our time in the counseling center. I wanted a fashionable theory that was popular. At the time Dr. Phil was rising and existential therapy was not working for me!
Existential Therapy strives to help one become aware of and solve, to the degree as is possible, life’s timeless questions. For example, “what is the meaning of life” and “why does… happen?” This type of therapy does not have a set of techniques but focuses on cultivating a sense of peace around the existential issue of concern or cause of disease.
Two major authors in this area are Viktor Frankl and Rollo May. Viktor Frankl wrote Man’s Search for Meaning where he tells of his inspiring accojnt of surviving a Nazi concentration c He speaks of routinely giving meaning to horrific events in order to stay encouraged. Rollo May is an American author who has written several books on how to apply Existentiallly therapeutic principles to different areas of life such as creativity and being.
Mental wellness has one make peace with the truth that all of one’s questions cannot be answered. Honestly, just because a question can be asked does not mean it can or should be answered. What do you think when I say energy should be spent wisely? Okay, now what about when I say that mental illness may be cultivated by attempting to force answers where either no answer is available or needed?
Thank you for reading,