Invited Address Session 9 Part 1 from the Evolution of Psychotherapy 1995 – Existential Therapy: Perspectives on the Therapeutic Relationship
Featuring Irvin Yalom, MD, with discussant Miriam Polster, PhD.
Moderated by Carol Kershaw, EdD.
Existential psychotherapy is more properly viewed as a therapy informed by a sensibiity to existential issues, rather than as a discrete, self-contained school of therapy. It addresses the anxiety embedded in our consciousness of the parameters of existence, especially in our confrontation with death, meaninglessness, freedom, and isolation. I shall discuss these concerns, particularly those with the greatest relevance to everyday therapy practice. I shall discuss the implications of the existential sensibility for the conduct of therapy and the therapeutic relationship. Genuineness and authenticity are necessary. The therapist and patient are fellow travelers, both facing the same exigencies of existence. I describe a therapy which avoids diagnosis, avoids technique, avoids merger, demands therapist transparency, and unwaveringly focuses on the here and now. I define the here-and-now and explain the reasons behind the here-and-now. I will devote much time to describing how to work in the here-and-now: moving from outside to inside, from content to process, dreams, therapist self-disclosure, sexuality, and the removal of resistances to therapist-patient intimacy.
- To list the four ultimate existential concerns.
- To describe the power of these concerns in psychotherapy.
- To illustrate how to relate authentically to the patient.
*Sessions may be edited for content and to preserve confidentiality*