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Pragmatic Existential Counseling and Psychotherapy
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Pragmatic Existential Counseling and Psychotherapy
Intimacy, Intuition, and the Search for Meaning



October 2015 | 384 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc
“This is a masterful primer on existential therapy that has been forged from the pen of a highly seasoned theorist, researcher, and practitioner.   In Pragmatic Existential Counseling and Psychotherapy: Intimacy, Intuition and the Search for Meaning, we gain the insight and personal experience of one who has lived and breathed the field for over 50 years—alongside some of the greatest practitioners of the craft, most notably Viktor Frankl.  This volume is superb for students interested in a broad and substantive overview of the field.”  
—Kirk Schneider, Columbia University  

Pragmatic Existential Counseling and Psychotherapy integrates concepts of positive psychology and strengths based therapy into existential therapy. Turning existential therapy on its head, this exciting, all-new title approaches the theory from a positive, rather than the traditional deficit model. Authored by a leading figure in existential therapy, Jerrold Lee Shapiro, the aim is to make existential therapy positive and easily accessible to a wide audience through a pragmatic, stage wise model. Shapiro expands on the work of Viktor Frankl and focuses on delivery to individuals and groups, men and women, and evidence based therapy. The key to his work is to help the client focus on resistance and to use it as a means of achieving therapeutic breakthroughs.  Filled with vignettes and rich case examples, the book is comprehensive, accessible, concrete, pragmatic and very human in connection between author and reader.

 
Chapter 1: Context: The Author's Life as an Existential Experiment
The Personal: How I became an Existential Therapist

 
Post-Grad Existential Experiences: Renewed Contact with Dr. Frankl

 
Finding Meaning in a Chance Meeting in Guam

 
Another Strange Site for Insight

 
True Existential Moments

 
The More Things Change...

 
The Professional Context

 
The Reach of Existential Approaches to Counseling and Psychotherapy

 
An Existential Orientation

 
Our Journey

 
 
Chapter 2: How Philosophy Becomes Therapy
Existential Philosophy

 
Philosophy Becomes Therapy

 
Divergent Existential Therapies

 
European Schools

 
European and American Existentialism

 
The Pragmatic Existential Orientation of this Book

 
 
Chapter 3: Essential Concepts/themes in Existential Theory and Therapy
Roots

 
Related Influences

 
A Brief Introduction to a Pragmatic Existential Therapy

 
 
Chapter 4: Existential Counseling and Psychotherapy: Strategies, Qualities, and Methods
Anxiety: The Engine of Change

 
Ahistorical Focus

 
Turning Report into Reality

 
Asocial Interventions

 
Working from Within

 
The Benefits of a Positive Psychology

 
Maximizing Therapeutic Effects

 
Existential Methods

 
 
Chapter 5: The Centrality of Resistance in Counseling and Therapy
A Brief History of Resistance and Healing

 
Resistance Across Theories

 
Resistance Between and Resistance Within

 
A Pragmatic Model of Dealing with Resistance in (Existential) Counseling and Therapy

 
Resistance Styles

 
The Cognitive External Style

 
The Affective External Style

 
The Cognitive Internal Style

 
The Affective Internal Style

 
The Cognitive Away Style

 
The Affective Away Style

 
Joining Must be Authentic

 
It Seems Counter-Intuitive. Why Does this Work?

 
Think France in the Early 1940's: Join the Resistance

 
 
Chapter 6: Using All the Data: How Do Therapists Know What They Know?
The Nature of Human Communication

 
Meta-Communication

 
Communication and the State of the Receiver

 
The Therapy Context and Communication

 
Therapists' Processing Systems: The Use of Self

 
Linear Sources (Empirical/Observable Data)

 
Non-Linear (Intuitive) Sources of Data

 
The Value and Dangers of Self-Data

 
The Aware Therapist

 
 
Chapter 7: The Four Epigenetic Phases of Psychotherapy
Intra-Session Arc

 
The Trajectory of Therapy

 
A Four Phase Developmental Sequence

 
 
Chapter 8: Show Me the Evidence! What is the Proof that Existential Therapy Works?
Some Realities for Clinicians

 
Preaching to the Choir: The "Hegemony" of CBT

 
"Include Me Out"

 
A Lack of Fit between Efficacy Studies and Existential-Humanistic Therapy

 
Psychotherapy: Art, Science or Hybrid

 
What is the Evidence for Existential Approaches?

 
A Curmudgeon's Perspective on Outcome Research

 
The Nose in Front of My Face

 
Implications

 
 
Chapter 9: Beyond the I-thou Dyad: Group, Couple, and Family Therapy
Unique Advantages of Multi-person Therapy

 
Unique Therapeutic Interventions

 
Characteristic Methods

 
Interactional Intimacy

 
When Groups are of Strangers

 
Effectiveness of Existential Multi-person Therapy

 
Why Existential Couple, Family and Group Therapy

 
 
Chapter 10: Gender and Culture in Existential Therapy
Ethnicity, Culture, and Gender Differences

 
Counseling the Culturally Diverse

 
Religion as Culture

 
Socio-economic Status

 
When Cultures Clash

 
Gender and Sexual Orientation

 
Emic Redux

 
Is Existential Counseling and Psychotherapy Multi-Cultural?

 
Human Universals Across Cultures

 
Ideographic and Nomothetic

 
 
Chapter 11: Life Transitions and Existential Psychotherapy
Developmental Stages

 
The Baby Boomer Generation: Finding Meaning, Facing Fears

 
Boomers in Therapy

 
Transition Issues

 
Transitions

 
 
Chapter 12: An Existential Case Study
Dana

 

“This is a masterful primer on existential therapy that has been forged from the pen of a highly seasoned theorist, researcher, and practitioner.   In Pragmatic Existential Counseling and Psychotherapy we gain the insight and personal experience of one who has lived and breathed the field for over 50 years—alongside some of the greatest practitioners of the craft, most notably Viktor Frankl.  This volume is superb for students interested in a broad and substantive overview of the field.”

Kirk Schneider
Columbia University
Key features

KEY FEATURES:

  • This book explores existential psychotherapy, through three interrelated lenses:
    • A pragmatic form of existential counseling and therapy that blends both European philosophical influences with American pragmatism. It frames existential therapy as an encoding-inductive process and contrasts it to the deductive-decoding approach of other theoretical methods.
    • A more generic use of existential tenets in all forms of relationally-based psychotherapy.
    • A detailed five decade arc of the author’s personal discovery of the nature and implementation of counseling and psychotherapy.
  • Case studies and vignettes translate complex philosophical constructs into pragmatic approaches for counselors.  A look into the counselors’ minds shows their thoughts and decisions in detailed, real-time sessions with clients as well as providing a frank openness to exploring personal therapeutic errors and corrections.
  • A unique rationale and formulation is given for the understanding of resistance as a strength vs. a problem.  A six-fold classification of resistance methods and an approach to use each one for the client’s betterment is offered.
  • The author shows how therapists can be more receptive to data that emanate from both the client and internally-generated experiences, bringing to light the exploration of the therapists’ unconscious experiences and multi-sense comprehension. 
  • This is the only book that examines and summarizes in clear, understandable prose the basic assumptions of evidence-based research when applied to existential therapy.
  • Infrequently covered in most books, this one addresses the needs of clients during life transitions, such as from midlife to retirement. The book also allows readers to identify healthy (existential) concerns and to distinguish them from unhealthy (neurotic) issues and then provides a road map to dealing with both.

Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter 3

Chapter 5


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