Practices and characteristics of existential counsellors and psychotherapists : a worldwide survey and observational study

  • Edgar Agrela Correia

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis

Abstract

Existential psychotherapy is one of the longest-established forms of psychological intervention, but little is known about its contemporary worldwide practice and the nature of its intervention remains unclear. Different existential therapies have different perspectives about practice, but there is little consensus on what separates and unifies them. Three complementary studies were conducted to help to develop a shared and systematized research definition for existential therapy’s contemporary theory of practice.A systematic online search of existential institutions around the globe was developed and a total of 128 existential therapy institutions were found in 42 countries from all inhabited continents.Drawing from this, an international survey was conducted asking existential practitioners to identify the practices they considered most characteristic of existential therapy and the authors and texts that most influenced their practice. Data from 1,264 worldwide existential practitioners’ showed that the scope of influence of an author is pretty much limited to the branch he is related to and only a few authors, in particular Frankl and Yalom, influence practitioners from different branches. The phenomenological method most unifies and characterizes the existential theory of practice. The other shared constitutional practices were methods associated with specific existential branches, practices informed by existential assumptions, relational practices and practices from other therapeutic paradigms. An observational grid was developed from those categories of practice and applied over recorded existential therapy sessions. The observed practices were mainly relational, followed by hermeneutic interventions and reformulations.Data indicates that existential therapies are spread worldwide and help to develop a greater understanding of the contemporary influence, scope and nature of its intervention.Differences among branches are confirmed and commonalities may help to develop a global and coherent framework of existential theory and practice. This opens new avenues for research concerning the applicability and effectiveness of these conceptual and practical frameworks.
Date of Award1 Feb 2014
LanguageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University Of Strathclyde

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