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Thesis

Existentialism as a system of psychotherapy

26 July 2004

Abstract

A common criticism of existentialist approaches to psychotherapy is that they are not well defined. Existential theory is based on existential philosophy, a large and diverse body of work that encompasses a range of ideas from different authors. Historically, existentialist therapists have been reluctant to define therapy practices that are uniquely existential on the grounds that preconceived interventions detract from the formation of authentic therapeutic relationships. In this paper I clarify productive directions for the organization of diverse existential theory. I review existentialism as a philosophy, noting its strengths as a theory base for an organized system of practice. In addition, I review the major approaches to systematized existential theory from 1950 to the present. I present a , J brief and pragmatic theory for the practice of existential therapy in which 16 existential techniques are fully explicated. I present a modern rationale for existentialism as a system of psychotherapy, discuss limitations of existential theory, and discuss the implications of ) managed care practices for the future of existential psychotherapy.


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