The proliferation of therapeutic groups, either self-help or professionally staffed, has dramatically expanded the applicability of psychotherapy. This development reflects society's increased willingness to deal communally with personal problems that were previously restricted to private psychotherapeutic sessions. Gestalt group therapy, with its original emphasis on the freshness and pungency of individual experience has also extended its perspective to group work. Dr. Miriam Polster describes how the gestalt approach enlivens group focus and interaction through its principles of awareness and experiment-and especially through its attention to the quality of the contact between group members.
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.
Panel 01 from the Evolution of Psychotherapy 1995 - Gender Issues
Featuring James Hillman, Ph.D.; Peggy Papp, A.C.S.W.; Miriam Polster, Ph.D.; and Olga Silverstein, M.S.W.
Moderated by William Matthews, Jr, PhD.