Current Personal Theory
The existential theory has been entirely instrumental in informing me on how to assist others as a counselor effectively. It focuses on various phenomena in people’s lives, such as freedom, death, responsibility, loneliness, anxiety, and the general meaning of life. The approach is based on six aspects: one’s capacity for self-awareness, the responsibility that accompanies freedom, and understanding the similarities and differences that distinguish people, thus boosting cooperation. Other elements are the significance of being alive and the value thereof, anxiety that results from life’s struggles, and the essence of mortality. Based on the theory, I help clients discover vital aspects of their lives, thus addressing their crucial concerns by encouraging them to practice what they have learned during the sessions. In the process, they connect with critical aspects to them and what they feel attracted to, inspiring them to identify new plausible actions and live positively genuinely. This is possible because factors surrounding anxiety, freedom, and the value of life are easily applicable.
Nevertheless, I follow a straightforward process to ensure concepts of self-awareness and mortality are clear. Raising self-awareness helps people understand their limits through strengths and weaknesses informed by their fears and life experiences. As a result, one can live a whole life, selecting activities and relationships to facilitate growth and development. Similarly, they know how to respond to situations and how to identify issues that require their attention. I discuss mortality relaying to the clients that death is an inevitable feature of human beings’ lives. Therefore, the conscious acknowledgment of the finality of ginger gives it more meaning and purpose.
The theory is significant since it covers a wide range of areas surrounding life, and it does not outline a particular way of facing reality. The broadness facilitates its relevance across diverse cultures, as the aspects it covers are universal. However, it fails to address social issues that cause human suffering. Critics have argued that the theory propagates the notion that those who seek psychotherapy mainly assume that their choices are limited since environmental factors hinder their ability to change the direction of their lives. For example, victims from a minority group based on sex or race may experience profound helplessness and frustration. Self-awareness significantly impacts the individuals helping them obtain a free spirit fully informed that they are accountable to themselves and are responsible for their decisions. The absence of confines on how to approach issues makes each case unique, leaving me anticipating helping the next person who comes knocking seeking psychotherapy.
How Other Theories Inform Existential Theory
The existential theory co-exists with other formal counseling theories such as rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT) and choice theory. REBT is a primary cognitive-behavioral theory that was developed by Albert Ellis. It powerfully addresses the thought process, evaluation, determination, examination, and consequent actions. It is based on the idea that a person’s feelings, perceptions, and actions are correlated and directly affect each other. For example, Albert provided that people blame themselves for things beyond their control, causing emotional disruptions when they fail to occur as expected, such as when kindness is not reciprocated or does not get a job after passing their exams. Despite the numerous difficulties that one experiences, one can maintain proper psychological health through human goals.
REBT has the ABC model, which is an acronym for adversity, beliefs, and emotional consequences. A healthy or unhealthy emotional response depends on a person’s belief about the event rather than its adversity. As a result, B is an essential feature of the model. To ensure that one establishes rational beliefs, Ellis used D to dispute the rigid position and E to encourage individuals to have a practical philosophy that maintains the correct psychological health. In the process, a person can set reasonable goals without exaggerating their tastes and preferences into rigid demands.
The choice theory developed by William Glasser indicates that one opts to behave in a particular way and control their actions and feelings. It provides that people are driven by a need to fulfill their desire for love and acceptance, power, freedom, pleasure, and survival. He states that conflict in society arises because people are only able to control their actions. The theory also provides other axioms, which include people only sharing information, lengthy psychological issues resulting from relationship troubles, and the past influences the present, which impacts the future. Also, feelings and physiological aspects are controlled through thoughts and actions, and the five needs are satisfied through carefully constructed quality worlds. Through the theory, individuals are taught how to change their thinking and acting, which changes their feelings and physiological responses to stress.
Reality therapy is based on choice theory principles to help clients make the proper decisions to meet their fundamental needs. William opined that challenges were caused by unfulfilled goals, thus disregarding the notion of mental illnesses. Therefore, clients are encouraged to center their attention on the present instead of past events. The therapy stresses the relationship between the therapist and client, where the former has to guide the latter to make choices that will produce positive results. The client has to ensure that they determine how their current behaviors are lacking and work on them by taking responsibility and adopting proper behavior. It also encourages individuals to establish and develop relationships that build quality worlds, thus creating connection and cooperation. Some of the caring habits that have to be incorporated into the relationships include trust, listening, encouraging, accepting differences, and offering support. Some of the habits that should be avoided include bribing, nagging, complaining, criticizing, blaming, threatening, and punishing.
REBT and reality therapy are essential since they inform and complement the existential theory. For example, self-awareness can help one identify their goals and adjust them accordingly to ensure they are rationally based on practical philosophies. The concept of mortality helps one value life and treasure their presence on earth hence taking necessary measures to ensure that their psychological health is protected by properly responding to adversities. Through choice theory, existentialists can help clients acquire essential freedom responsibility, thus achieving basic human needs. Also, individuals are informed that they choose how to behave based on their thoughts and actions, which influence loneliness and anxiety. Through reality therapy, clients are taught to alter their focus from past experiences to the present by enacting appropriate behavior, thus creating quality worlds where major basic needs are met. The two theories interact deeply with the existential theory creating an interdependence since concepts can be borrowed from either approach depending on the client’s needs.
Enhancing My Personal Theory
As I progress through my training program, I will continue working on enhancing my personal theory, which is the existential approach, by having an in-depth analysis of the theory from various books, articles, and journals to ensure consistency with my beliefs and values. I will then examine how I can use it with clients and its efficacy in solving different problems. The next step is integrating the theory with other counseling theories after a careful and intensive study. The ideas and techniques adopted have to be philosophically and theoretically consistent with the existential theory to ensure that the overall personal theory is valid and reliable.
Personal and Professional Development
My experience in this course has been rather positive since I have been able to critically understand some of the challenges I have experienced, how to respond to issues, and the proper ways of helping individuals seeking therapy, thus becoming a great psychologist. Some of the personal ways in which the course has impacted my life is relating some of the theories to my sons’ lives. My older son left school and forfeited his desire to become a trombonist and lost his father due to pancreatic cancer at the same time. As a result, he became antisocial and developed a mental disorder until someone advised him on goal setting. He decided to get a job and accept the disability. He got a job that keeps him busy throughout the week and manages to rest during the week.
Also, my younger son was diagnosed with a pervasive developmental disorder, an autism spectrum disorder in DSM-5 characterized by a lack of communication skills and inability to socialize. Despite being a graduate, he was unable to get a job due to his disability. Despite the challenges, he found a career as a social worker, lives alone, and can pay his rent. The job gives him independence, and he has a purpose in life.
Furthermore, the course has helped me appreciate a significant number of cultural differences. For example, Japan is a conservative society, whereas America is liberal. Japan is patriarchal, with men taking the primary leadership of various spheres. Age, socioeconomic status, and gender determine one’s placement in the country. From 25 up to 60 years, one is considered beneficial, after which most people retire and enjoy life instead of pursuing other professional interests. In my case, the standard way was not an option since upon retirement as a primary school teacher; I intended to pursue psychiatry. Japan did not offer a conducive environment for me to pursue my interests.
Professionally, the course has facilitated my desire to help clients with mental illnesses. Initially, I had a long-term goal to be a psychiatrist, although I was a primary school teacher in Japan, teaching the first grade to sixth-grade students. I was disappointed after I failed the medical school interview due to my age, although one of the staff members had informed me that it was a formality. The failure to secure the slot led me to ask myself what my goal was, leading me to study psychology to help mentally ill patients.
I understand the crucial elements of counseling based on theories such as choice and existential theory through training. Various guiding principles on REBT and reality therapy are clear, enabling me to help in my clients’ recovery process. They obtain a tolerant and rational philosophy instead of a self-defeating outlook and learn how to alter their actions and thoughts accordingly to ensure they behave appropriately. Moreover, I have acquired crucial counseling skills that have facilitated critical thinking and my ability to observe and view situations from several perspectives when helping clients.
Advanced Developmental Complexity
Cognitive complexity is an essential feature in counseling due to the ability to think critically and engage several perspectives while conducting a dynamic dialogue. Developing an advanced developmental complexity is mainly facilitated by supervision during the training process. Through supervision, students are taught counseling skills, which are translated into particular features that determine their effectiveness. The skills are measured by the educators to evaluate the success of the training program. Supervisees are informed of various qualitative and quantitative terms used to assess performance objectives.
The Counseling Skills Scale (CSS) has five criteria that measure the effectiveness of the skills. The first measure is validity and reliability, the second is the reliance on observational data collected from a real in-session evaluation of counseling skills, followed by accessibility and the relevance of the instrument to instructors and students for feedback, reliance on expert ratings from professional judges instead of peers, clients or students and finally the presence of contextually appropriate qualitative judgment relating to the use of specific counseling skills (Eriksen & McAuliffe, 2006). Supervision plays a crucial role in boosting the counseling students’ skills competencies. There exists a clear relationship between a trainee’s competency skill level and their cognitive developmental level. Proper counseling skills translate to cognitive complexity, which translates to critical thinking and viewing situations from multiple perspectives while having a dialogue with a client.
Eriksen, K. P., & McAuliffe, G. J. (2006). Constructive development and counselor competence. Counselor Education and Supervision, 45(3), 180-192.