18 June 2009

Why I Pick Existential Theory For My Counseling Session?

As I was cleaning my files in my laptop this morning, I have discovered a few interesting works of mine. They are my assignments. Well, a real sincere works of mine I should say. I thought of sharing one of my work here, a work from a future counselor? Haha.. Who knows?

Maybe this is a great idea for you to understand a little bit more about me. Enjoy reading this long long work of mine.


Which theory will you pick for your future counseling session?
Existential Theory

I have been thinking really hard lately in deciding which type of theory might suit me best. It took me about months. I have read all over the book (Theory and Practice of Counseling and Psychotherapy), made some researches on the internet and even discussed my dilemma with my friends and finally, I have come into conclusion that I am picking Existential Therapy.

For sure, there are good reasons behind this pick. One of the main reasons is that, I have realized the key concepts of this therapy are very much like a spiritual approach in which the existentialisms are trying to understand the meaning of being a human and how human find their goals in life. These philosophical ideas gained no place in me until I have learnt them from my granny’s death, yoga class (The Art Of Leaving) and some insightful stories from others.

I have realized that, lately, as I am growing wiser (not older), I become more aware of death. Maybe it is due to my grandma’s death which was a year ago. I witnessed her last exhalation in the oxygen together with my mother, aunt and my cousin in a public hospital. It was an unexpected death for all of us as she showed no obvious symptoms and the doctor didn’t even expect her to leave so fast.

Frankly, I wasn’t prepared at all. The feeling of shock, disappointment, fear and emptiness haunted me for months. Having to accept the death of a loved one who I have strong emotional connection with is really hard. Really, really hard. Even now, I am still missing her smile, her voice, her joke and her warm, caring hand.

From my granny’s death, I have learnt something valuable about life. I start to wonder why human are born into this world and die in the end. If we know that we can’t stay eternally in this world, why do God creates us and brings us into this planet at the very first place? What is the meaning of being born into this world? Why do I have to study and contribute to the society if I know I will die in any minute? Why do I even bother to earn money as I can’t bring any item with me when I am no longer here?

As I explored more and more questions, I started to shiver. I felt powerless and lost all at the same time because I know, once I am dead, I will have no contact with anyone who is important in my life. Not even able to bring anything (including money, house or car) to the unknown world.

Having this awareness about death is frightening at first. However, it turns out to be something positive at the end and help me to understand life better. I start to be able to see why I am here and how I can live a better life. I believe that God wants us to be in this world to experience love, hardship, happiness, sadness, disappointment and you named them. He wants us to share those experiences with other significant people in our life. These experiences are something valuable and they can turn into energy and motivation if we manage to see things in different perspectives.

Besides grandma’s death, the knowledge which I have gained from Buddha teaching as well as from The Art of Living have allowed me to view birth and death in a more motivating way, and leading a more purposeful life. I start to value life and appreciate people around me (before it is too late). In case you might ask, The Art of Living is a non-profit organization which teaches yoga, meditation and spiritual knowledge (including Christianity and Buddhism). It really contributes a lot to my adulthood development. I start to read and learn more about spiritual learning in order to live a meaningful, happy and wonderful life and give contribution to the society – by touching others life. That’s my main goal lately.

I know I will die in any minute or even millisecond while typing this assignment. No one can stop themselves from dying no matter how hard you try as this is what we call, the fact of life. I may die because of certain disastrous phenomenal like Tsunami, Earthquake or accident or I may die because of epidemic biology infection like Swine Flu (H1N1), Bird flu or SARS. Isn’t that scary?

Knowing that human’s life is so fragile, it has made me wanting to work hard in achieving my self-actualizing goal by going as far as I can. I don’t need to earn big money, gain big name or married a handsome husband to reach my long-term goal. No. But I want to give my best contribution to the people using whatever I have – knowledge, love, humor, skills and support. Emm… Maybe being a counselor in future? An expressive art therapist? Or a journalist? Well, I don’t know yet and I am still searching.

Besides the incident of my grandma’s death and the belief which I am holding on, I have discovered that I am a type of person who like seeing the big picture and then, work on the small part in order to achieve the big goal. Besides, I am also a person who prefer perceiving thing using feeling instead of cognitive thinking. Thus, I prefer humanistic approach rather than other approaches such as REBT and behavior.

My self-discovery is proven when I found out that I am an ENFP person according to Myer Briggs or Carl Jung Typology. Thus, this is also one of the reasons why I choose Existential theory.

As far as I understand about Existential Therapy, it focuses on the meaning of being a human. Thus, the Existential therapist focuses on helping people in discovering the meaning of their lives when they are facing dilemmas such as isolation, meaninglessness and alienation in their lives. Having this root idea in mind, that is how the basic dimensions of the human condition evolve: 1) The capacity for self-awareness; 2) freedom and responsibility; 3) creating one’s identity and establishing meaningful relationships with others; 4) the search for meaning, purpose, values and goals, anxiety as a condition of living ; 6) and awareness of death and non-being. These basic dimensions of the human condition explained by the existential philosophers and psychotherapists are really true and I do agree with them.

I find it really important to help clients by first increasing their awareness on that certain area by exploring the factors influencing the person, alternatives, motivation and personal goals. This is helpful to allow the client to scan the problem at conscious level.

Next, I do find that letting the client know we are free and responsible to our own lives without being judged by others are important as it will give confident to the client to control his life. Besides, client will realize that he is the only controller over his own life. Thus, he has to the path that he desires and responsible with his own choice and action.

Emphasizing on the relationship with others are as equality as important with other basic dimensions. Every one of us has to be aware that we can’t live without the presence of others. Just close your eyes and imagine that there is a mother who is giving birth to her new born baby. Do you think it is possible for the baby to be delivered alone without the help from others?

Maybe it is possible but difficult I suppose. I do agree with this phrase, “No man is an island”. No matter how important someone might be for us, we should not forget our own values, belief and true-self by succumb to others needs. It is important to know our limits when we are with others. Next, the idea of searching for meaning is what I like the most in this theory. This idea is one of the most important elements in life because, without meaning there is no life.

Awareness of death and non-being is another important element which I believe each of us should be aware of. It is a fact that we can never run away. By keeping the idea that every human will die in the end, it will allow us to live life as meaningful as possible. Besides, we will not waste any valuable time by doing nothing. Last but not least, treating anxiety as a condition of living is important in order to let client being in touch with reality.

Most of us dislike facing with death, challenges, difficulty, conflict and stress situations and we tend to be running away from them. However, not many of us are aware that these situations are unavoidable as long as we are living in this world. To face these situations, we can only face them with good preparation and courageous. We have to be prepared in facing with anxiety ( existential anxiety, normal anxiety and neurotic anxiety) as it will happen no matter how we try to escape. Anyway, we can try to minimize the effect on us. Besides, this effort of facing anxiety also shows that we are ready for personal change.

This theory might sound simple, just like Person-Centered Therapy by having no specific techniques, unlike Gestalt Therapy with its empty chair or Psychoanalysis with is interpretation of dream. Thus, one has to have strong understanding about human and life in order to apply this theory. Well, this is my challenges as I am still learning and exploring the real meaning of life. I realize that spiritual belief can’t be developed just a day. It requires long-life learning and exploration. So, I am still here, looking and exploring by first understand about my true-self.

Besides, I do realize that it is not easy to make others to understand and find their own life goal especially children, teenager and adolescence.
I guess, the cognitive and spiritual development isn’t complete yet during at that age. I am saying this because I remember how I am so innocent and blurred whenever some adults (like my parents, aunts and uncles) who asked about my life direction and what do I want in life when I was a teenager. Anyway, I know it is not possible to apply this theory in my future counseling session with children or teenager if only if I have mastered the skills, right? I know there are ways and I just have to include those existential awareness in the sessions.

Being able to find a theory which suits me, as a future counselor is really a good news. Starting by today, I should explore myself more into this Existential theory as well as other spiritual teaching. I believe they are good for my own development as well as for helping others. Let’s start the exploration, again!

P/s: It seriously took me a real long day to finish this assignment.. Pheww...