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Posted: January 12th, 2022

Psychology class

Question Description

Help me study for my Psychology class. I’m stuck and don’t understand.

After watching the guest lecture video, share your ideas on the role of religion and spirituality in humanistic and existential psychotherapies.

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This is the transcript to the video for this assignment:

Hello, everyone. My name is Dr. Shelley Harrell, and I’m a tenured professor here at Pepperdine Graduate School of Education and Psychology. I’ve been here for nearly 20 years. And I teach, primarily, in the doctoral program. Other classes I teach are year-long theories and techniques of humanistic and existential psychotherapy.

So what I want to talk to you today about is just some of my reflections on that approach to add to what you are reading and your lecture material. And I certainly work from this orientation although I consider myself very integrative. And my primary orientation actually is multicultural psychology, which I’ll be talking to you about a little later this semester, a little later this term.

But let me start with the humanistic existential approach and how I got into it. So again, my primary orientation is more multicultural and one of the things that struck me, as I was coming through graduate school, was the lack of fit of most orientations with the multicultural approach.

And I never really found a home. And my initial exposure to humanistic existential, I felt like it wasn’t a good fit. I think a lot of presentations on this orientation are little blips about like the 70s and peace-love, human potential movement. And it’s so much more than that.

And probably about 20 years ago, I took a continuing education class on spirituality and humanistic approaches, and it just resonated with how I was working anyway. I was about seven, eight years post-doctorate at that point and had a private practice, had been working in a community mental health center. And the way that I was naturally working with my culturally diverse clients really had resonance with what I was learning in this intense continuing education class.

And so I took it upon myself to begin studying the approach more and just immersing myself, and I’ve been doing that over the last 20 years. It culminated, and I actually did a keynote address to the Division 32 of the American Psychological Association, which is humanistic psychology. And I spoke on love, justice, and multiculturalism in humanistic psychology. And so I’ve been real interested in that intersection, and I’ll speak some of that towards the end of my remarks.

So I wanted to just give you an idea of how I found this shtick existential psychology and what draws me to it. And again, it’s its integrative nature, its flexibility, and its connection and overlap with many of the core principles of working multiculturally.

So I want to start, actually, with some common misunderstandings of the humanistic existential approach because I think sometimes people are a little turned off to it because of the inaccuracies, I think, in some ways that it’s presented in standard courses on psychotherapy. There’s a little blip about it that I think isn’t always capturing particularly the contemporary approach within this orientation.

So one misunderstanding is that it’s just kind of about being warm and nice and empathic. While those can be important aspects, that’s not all there is, there is actually wealth to that theory. And it’s a very complex orientation, which I’ll talk about in a little bit. There’s four major approaches within the broader umbrella of humanistic existential.

And each of those approaches has specific therapies, diverse therapies within the approaches. So it’s much more complex than just being warm and empathic and having empathy and positive regard and all that stuff we hear. Now that’s in there, but that’s, certainly, not the whole picture. So I think that’s a misunderstanding that people have, not appreciating the complexity of the orientation.

And then, I think another misconception people have is there’s not empirical support. So, obviously, in our contemporary practice being evidence-based is critical. And we know evidence-based is more than just experimentally supported therapies but having experimental or empirical support is important. And there are two orientations that are grounded in humanistic theory that have strong, strong empirical evidence.

And one is emotion-focused therapy developed by Les Greenberg and colleagues. And the other is motivational interviewing, Miller and Rollnick and both of those– and I encourage you to read both the original writings in those two therapies as well as the empirical support for those two therapies. And the authors, the developers of those therapies, are very clear about their humanistic foundations and orientation.

Those of you in the [? EFT ?] program may be familiar with Sue Johnson’s emotion-focused couples therapy. She was a student of Les Greenberg, who developed emotion-focused therapy and applied it to couples. So her approach is very informed by humanistic as well.

And then, the common factors that we know are sort of threaded through all of our therapies like empathy, like a supportive relationship, those are very characteristic of the humanistic approach. And there’s tremendous empirical support there. And one that’s kind of near and dear to my heart is the misunderstanding that humanistic and existential therapies only focus on self. Self, self, self, self, self. Me, me, me, me, me. And I think that that is a kind of stereotype that comes from the sort of 70s human potential movement.

But in actuality, humanistic existential approaches are profoundly relational. I’m sure all of you are familiar with Carl Rogers and his work and actually it is really the relationship that is responsible for healing and growth creating a relational environment that enables people to hear their kind of inner experience and trust it and grow.

And so it’s not so self-focused. Not only that of these approaches being profoundly relational, but there’s always been an underlying concern for making the world a better place. And humanistic existential writers have leaned towards that the world becomes a better place by helping each person become a fully functioning individual and fulfilling their highest potential.

And when we do that, that feeds into the world. And there’s the underlying a lot of the writings is this concern for the world. Not only that, humanistic existential theories are filled with ideas about how problems of the world, how injustices, how inhumanity of person to person negatively impacts people. And so a big part of the agenda is to increase our humanity to each other and improve the world in that way.

So there’s very much a concern for injustice and inhumanity in the world. And in fact, I think some of you may know this as well. Carl Rogers’ later work was all about intergroup relations and he took his theory internationally and worked with people across nationalities, across ethnic groups in South America and the Middle East, and South Africa to attempt to address this significant concern. This was very important to him.

So let’s talk about these four major approaches really briefly. So the broad humanistic umbrella can be divided into person-centered, which is kind of the Rogerian, emphasizing creating conditions for the fully functioning person to emerge. The second kind of part of the existential family is the experiential approach. And Greenberg’s emotion-focused therapy fits in here. It’s about really emphasizing facilitating emotional experience, facilitating experiential processes, experiential presence.

The third part of the humanistic umbrella, what’s under the humanistic umbrella, is the existential approach. And that really is about exploring and liberating people, exploring people’s meaning, purpose in life, helping people find their meaning and purpose, liberate one’s kind of true self. Those kinds of things. Choice is very important in the existential approach.

And then, finally, the transpersonal. Transpersonal meaning beyond the personal. So that approach kind of initiated by Abraham Maslow. You all are familiar with his pyramid. But that’s really about transcending ordinary experience and the inclusion of spirituality and different types of consciousness experiences, peak experience, awe and spirituality, those kinds of things. That approach had a bad rap because there was a lot of research on psychedelic drugs and trying to understand levels of human consciousness. But it’s a much broader approach than that.

So in going through all of this, I really want to emphasize the complexity and the comprehensiveness of the humanistic existential approach with those four general approaches within the umbrella. And each of those has different kind of schools and different therapies within themselves. So there’s a lot of diversity.

Let me highlight a few of the core characteristics of the approach. So as I mentioned, one of the real central characteristics is this idea of honoring our shared humanity. The importance of human dignity, respect for our humanness, understanding our common human condition, and our struggles that we all share.

So they’re the idea– and Irvin Yalom, another big name in humanistic existential therapy, talks about being fellow travelers with our clients. That we don’t look at the client as the only one who’s struggling. That we are all human, and we all have human challenges. And the therapist very much is a fellow traveler on this journey.

Humanistic existentialists vary anti-reductionistic. So it challenges the medical model. It challenges fragmented people into parts so that a whole person rather than separate parts or separate mechanisms. Really looking at the person as an integrated mind, body, heart, spirit, system, multiple systems. A very non-pathologising normalizing the range of human behavior.

Less interested in what’s wrong. Less interested in diagnosis and more interested in positive development and growth. And that kind of leads into this other real important characteristic. And all of these span those four general approaches within the broader umbrella. So these are more or less shared ideas within the family.

The fourth is this idea of optimal human functioning. It’s based on really helping people be fully human, fully experience their love, discover and express their highest, highest potential. So there’s some overlap with positive psychology there really emphasizing strengths, affirming, nurturing, helping people express their strengths in the world. Authenticity, congruence are very, very central.

Consistency between sort of your deepest emotional and internal experience and what you say and what you do. So that our deepest experience, what we say and what we do, come into line. It’s sort of that idea of walking your talk. Helping people live in congruence, helping people find their voice is a big part of the work.

The genuine relationship, the centrality of relationship for healing and health. Transparency, empathy, warmth, all of those kinds of things. And that is natural for optimal human growth. It’s necessary that we have, be in conditions where this genuine relationship is characteristic in order for people to become their highest and best.

Obviously, the actualization and the growth tendency. There is an assumption that we have this innate or that all organism have an innate tendency towards growth, towards self-organization and towards sort of a knowledge of kind of what may be in our best interests. So humanistic existential approaches really are collaborative and work with clients, honor their knowledge, honor their experience.

Meaning and purpose is central, emerging out of Viktor Frankl’s logotherapy. We are meaning seeking and meaning-making beings. And part of psychological health is meaning-centered. The notions of freedom and choice are critical. That involves accepting responsibility for making conscious, intentional decisions in our lives.

The liberation and freedom from oppression and oppression at multiple levels. So internal oppression, the way we oppress parts of ourselves. Relational impression, which may include abuse and violence. And then, systemic oppression. Discrimination, isms in multiple forms. So liberation and freedom from all forms of oppression is a big part of this major tenant of freedom within the humanistic umbrella.

And then I talked about flexibility. The key is meeting the client where they are. We don’t want to impose a prepackaged way of working. It’s not one size fits all. We want to connect meaningfully with our clients. That how we work emerges from that. So that suggests and recent writings really talk a lot about sort of the pluralism within humanistic existential. That we can integrate strategies from diverse approaches if they’re a fit for the client and where the client is and what the client needs and the client’s culture.

So let me transition, and this is the last little piece I’m going to talk about before I wrap up. Transition just into talking a bit about cultural considerations. As I mentioned, my resonance with this orientation really was around a lot of the overlap with multicultural approaches and multicultural psychology. So it’s a myth that this orientation is not relevant to culturally diverse or underserved populations.

I think it’s a myth that we need to only do behavioral work because they’re not psychologically-minded. Those are stereotypes. People of all cultures, of all kind of socioeconomic conditions, have a story to tell, have lived experience to share, and that that is a big part of what this orientation is about is making space for people to tell their story, to connect authentically with themselves, to kind of peel away the barriers and the ways that society may inhibit our authentic identities and self. And that includes discrimination and those sorts of things.

I think this orientation is very, very relevant. It emphasizes awareness, becoming more aware of the masks we wear. Becoming more aware of who we are in society. So I think it’s very congruent. There’s a mutual concern with overpathologizing. Multicultural psychology emphasizes strengths as well. So that was a real place of resonance to not be so focused on what’s wrong with people and overpathologizing people. And humanistic existential challenges the medical model in that regard.

There is a real openness to integration of spirituality, which clearly research shows that most cultures in the world really centralize spirituality in understanding well-being and has healing paths. And humanistic existential is one of the more open and integrative approaches with respect to spirituality. Consciousness raising, awareness, those sorts of things are real common to both orientations.

And again, meeting the client where the client is. In a multicultural approach, we’re saying let’s find out what’s culturally congruent. Where is the client, and our intervention connects there, rather than, again, the prepackaged approaches.

So coming full circle, I think humanistic existential is sometimes a misunderstood approach within our field, but it’s very, very valuable. And in fact, if we look at some of the third way CBT therapies, DBT, Dialectical Behavior Therapy, ACT, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy– both of those draw heavily from the humanistic existential approach.

DBT has emphasized this validation. Marsha Linehan, the founder of DBT, talks about that you can’t overestimate the importance of validation of clients. And there’s those six levels of validation within DBT. So affirming the person and their humanity and their experience is critical within DBT.

Within ACT, there’s an emphasis on the inevitability of pain. A big tenant in existential therapy is the givens. Uncertainty, uncontrollability, isolation, impermanence, change, the inevitability of change. In that, these things are things we all struggle with, and ACT really emphasizes that pain is inevitable, and we have to persist in spite of emotional distress.

And very congruent with humanistic existential find meaning even in the most adverse circumstances and persist towards development of our highest selves and best selves even in the context of pain and adversity. And, obviously, that comes from Frankl and his experiences. That work doesn’t only come from Frankl, but Frankl was a big influencer and meaning-focused work in the existential field, existential psychology field.

So that’s all. I hope that I’ve given you a little bit of insight into the complexity and comprehensiveness of the humanistic existential approach, and I encourage everyone to learn more. Thank you.Hello, everyone. My name is Dr. Shelley Harrell, and I’m a tenured professor here at Pepperdine Graduate School of Education and Psychology. I’ve been here for nearly 20 years. And I teach, primarily, in the doctoral program. Other classes I teach are year-long theories and techniques of humanistic and existential psychotherapy.

So what I want to talk to you today about is just some of my reflections on that approach to add to what you are reading and your lecture material. And I certainly work from this orientation although I consider myself very integrative. And my primary orientation actually is multicultural psychology, which I’ll be talking to you about a little later this semester, a little later this term.

But let me start with the humanistic existential approach and how I got into it. So again, my primary orientation is more multicultural and one of the things that struck me, as I was coming through graduate school, was the lack of fit of most orientations with the multicultural approach.

And I never really found a home. And my initial exposure to humanistic existential, I felt like it wasn’t a good fit. I think a lot of presentations on this orientation are little blips about like the 70s and peace-love, human potential movement. And it’s so much more than that.

And probably about 20 years ago, I took a continuing education class on spirituality and humanistic approaches, and it just resonated with how I was working anyway. I was about seven, eight years post-doctorate at that point and had a private practice, had been working in a community mental health center. And the way that I was naturally working with my culturally diverse clients really had resonance with what I was learning in this intense continuing education class.

And so I took it upon myself to begin studying the approach more and just immersing myself, and I’ve been doing that over the last 20 years. It culminated, and I actually did a keynote address to the Division 32 of the American Psychological Association, which is humanistic psychology. And I spoke on love, justice, and multiculturalism in humanistic psychology. And so I’ve been real interested in that intersection, and I’ll speak some of that towards the end of my remarks.

So I wanted to just give you an idea of how I found this shtick existential psychology and what draws me to it. And again, it’s its integrative nature, its flexibility, and its connection and overlap with many of the core principles of working multiculturally.

So I want to start, actually, with some common misunderstandings of the humanistic existential approach because I think sometimes people are a little turned off to it because of the inaccuracies, I think, in some ways that it’s presented in standard courses on psychotherapy. There’s a little blip about it that I think isn’t always capturing particularly the contemporary approach within this orientation.

So one misunderstanding is that it’s just kind of about being warm and nice and empathic. While those can be important aspects, that’s not all there is, there is actually wealth to that theory. And it’s a very complex orientation, which I’ll talk about in a little bit. There’s four major approaches within the broader umbrella of humanistic existential.

And each of those approaches has specific therapies, diverse therapies within the approaches. So it’s much more complex than just being warm and empathic and having empathy and positive regard and all that stuff we hear. Now that’s in there, but that’s, certainly, not the whole picture. So I think that’s a misunderstanding that people have, not appreciating the complexity of the orientation.

And then, I think another misconception people have is there’s not empirical support. So, obviously, in our contemporary practice being evidence-based is critical. And we know evidence-based is more than just experimentally supported therapies but having experimental or empirical support is important. And there are two orientations that are grounded in humanistic theory that have strong, strong empirical evidence.

And one is emotion-focused therapy developed by Les Greenberg and colleagues. And the other is motivational interviewing, Miller and Rollnick and both of those– and I encourage you to read both the original writings in those two therapies as well as the empirical support for those two therapies. And the authors, the developers of those therapies, are very clear about their humanistic foundations and orientation.

Those of you in the [? EFT ?] program may be familiar with Sue Johnson’s emotion-focused couples therapy. She was a student of Les Greenberg, who developed emotion-focused therapy and applied it to couples. So her approach is very informed by humanistic as well.

And then, the common factors that we know are sort of threaded through all of our therapies like empathy, like a supportive relationship, those are very characteristic of the humanistic approach. And there’s tremendous empirical support there. And one that’s kind of near and dear to my heart is the misunderstanding that humanistic and existential therapies only focus on self. Self, self, self, self, self. Me, me, me, me, me. And I think that that is a kind of stereotype that comes from the sort of 70s human potential movement.

But in actuality, humanistic existential approaches are profoundly relational. I’m sure all of you are familiar with Carl Rogers and his work and actually it is really the relationship that is responsible for healing and growth creating a relational environment that enables people to hear their kind of inner experience and trust it and grow.

And so it’s not so self-focused. Not only that of these approaches being profoundly relational, but there’s always been an underlying concern for making the world a better place. And humanistic existential writers have leaned towards that the world becomes a better place by helping each person become a fully functioning individual and fulfilling their highest potential.

And when we do that, that feeds into the world. And there’s the underlying a lot of the writings is this concern for the world. Not only that, humanistic existential theories are filled with ideas about how problems of the world, how injustices, how inhumanity of person to person negatively impacts people. And so a big part of the agenda is to increase our humanity to each other and improve the world in that way.

So there’s very much a concern for injustice and inhumanity in the world. And in fact, I think some of you may know this as well. Carl Rogers’ later work was all about intergroup relations and he took his theory internationally and worked with people across nationalities, across ethnic groups in South America and the Middle East, and South Africa to attempt to address this significant concern. This was very important to him.

So let’s talk about these four major approaches really briefly. So the broad humanistic umbrella can be divided into person-centered, which is kind of the Rogerian, emphasizing creating conditions for the fully functioning person to emerge. The second kind of part of the existential family is the experiential approach. And Greenberg’s emotion-focused therapy fits in here. It’s about really emphasizing facilitating emotional experience, facilitating experiential processes, experiential presence.

The third part of the humanistic umbrella, what’s under the humanistic umbrella, is the existential approach. And that really is about exploring and liberating people, exploring people’s meaning, purpose in life, helping people find their meaning and purpose, liberate one’s kind of true self. Those kinds of things. Choice is very important in the existential approach.

And then, finally, the transpersonal. Transpersonal meaning beyond the personal. So that approach kind of initiated by Abraham Maslow. You all are familiar with his pyramid. But that’s really about transcending ordinary experience and the inclusion of spirituality and different types of consciousness experiences, peak experience, awe and spirituality, those kinds of things. That approach had a bad rap because there was a lot of research on psychedelic drugs and trying to understand levels of human consciousness. But it’s a much broader approach than that.

So in going through all of this, I really want to emphasize the complexity and the comprehensiveness of the humanistic existential approach with those four general approaches within the umbrella. And each of those has different kind of schools and different therapies within themselves. So there’s a lot of diversity.

Let me highlight a few of the core characteristics of the approach. So as I mentioned, one of the real central characteristics is this idea of honoring our shared humanity. The importance of human dignity, respect for our humanness, understanding our common human condition, and our struggles that we all share.

So they’re the idea– and Irvin Yalom, another big name in humanistic existential therapy, talks about being fellow travelers with our clients. That we don’t look at the client as the only one who’s struggling. That we are all human, and we all have human challenges. And the therapist very much is a fellow traveler on this journey.

Humanistic existentialists vary anti-reductionistic. So it challenges the medical model. It challenges fragmented people into parts so that a whole person rather than separate parts or separate mechanisms. Really looking at the person as an integrated mind, body, heart, spirit, system, multiple systems. A very non-pathologising normalizing the range of human behavior.

Less interested in what’s wrong. Less interested in diagnosis and more interested in positive development and growth. And that kind of leads into this other real important characteristic. And all of these span those four general approaches within the broader umbrella. So these are more or less shared ideas within the family.

The fourth is this idea of optimal human functioning. It’s based on really helping people be fully human, fully experience their love, discover and express their highest, highest potential. So there’s some overlap with positive psychology there really emphasizing strengths, affirming, nurturing, helping people express their strengths in the world. Authenticity, congruence are very, very central.

Consistency between sort of your deepest emotional and internal experience and what you say and what you do. So that our deepest experience, what we say and what we do, come into line. It’s sort of that idea of walking your talk. Helping people live in congruence, helping people find their voice is a big part of the work.

The genuine relationship, the centrality of relationship for healing and health. Transparency, empathy, warmth, all of those kinds of things. And that is natural for optimal human growth. It’s necessary that we have, be in conditions where this genuine relationship is characteristic in order for people to become their highest and best.

Obviously, the actualization and the growth tendency. There is an assumption that we have this innate or that all organism have an innate tendency towards growth, towards self-organization and towards sort of a knowledge of kind of what may be in our best interests. So humanistic existential approaches really are collaborative and work with clients, honor their knowledge, honor their experience.

Meaning and purpose is central, emerging out of Viktor Frankl’s logotherapy. We are meaning seeking and meaning-making beings. And part of psychological health is meaning-centered. The notions of freedom and choice are critical. That involves accepting responsibility for making conscious, intentional decisions in our lives.

The liberation and freedom from oppression and oppression at multiple levels. So internal oppression, the way we oppress parts of ourselves. Relational impression, which may include abuse and violence. And then, systemic oppression. Discrimination, isms in multiple forms. So liberation and freedom from all forms of oppression is a big part of this major tenant of freedom within the humanistic umbrella.

And then I talked about flexibility. The key is meeting the client where they are. We don’t want to impose a prepackaged way of working. It’s not one size fits all. We want to connect meaningfully with our clients. That how we work emerges from that. So that suggests and recent writings really talk a lot about sort of the pluralism within humanistic existential. That we can integrate strategies from diverse approaches if they’re a fit for the client and where the client is and what the client needs and the client’s culture.

So let me transition, and this is the last little piece I’m going to talk about before I wrap up. Transition just into talking a bit about cultural considerations. As I mentioned, my resonance with this orientation really was around a lot of the overlap with multicultural approaches and multicultural psychology. So it’s a myth that this orientation is not relevant to culturally diverse or underserved populations.

I think it’s a myth that we need to only do behavioral work because they’re not psychologically-minded. Those are stereotypes. People of all cultures, of all kind of socioeconomic conditions, have a story to tell, have lived experience to share, and that that is a big part of what this orientation is about is making space for people to tell their story, to connect authentically with themselves, to kind of peel away the barriers and the ways that society may inhibit our authentic identities and self. And that includes discrimination and those sorts of things.

I think this orientation is very, very relevant. It emphasizes awareness, becoming more aware of the masks we wear. Becoming more aware of who we are in society. So I think it’s very congruent. There’s a mutual concern with overpathologizing. Multicultural psychology emphasizes strengths as well. So that was a real place of resonance to not be so focused on what’s wrong with people and overpathologizing people. And humanistic existential challenges the medical model in that regard.

There is a real openness to integration of spirituality, which clearly research shows that most cultures in the world really centralize spirituality in understanding well-being and has healing paths. And humanistic existential is one of the more open and integrative approaches with respect to spirituality. Consciousness raising, awareness, those sorts of things are real common to both orientations.

And again, meeting the client where the client is. In a multicultural approach, we’re saying let’s find out what’s culturally congruent. Where is the client, and our intervention connects there, rather than, again, the prepackaged approaches.

So coming full circle, I think humanistic existential is sometimes a misunderstood approach within our field, but it’s very, very valuable. And in fact, if we look at some of the third way CBT therapies, DBT, Dialectical Behavior Therapy, ACT, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy– both of those draw heavily from the humanistic existential approach.

DBT has emphasized this validation. Marsha Linehan, the founder of DBT, talks about that you can’t overestimate the importance of validation of clients. And there’s those six levels of validation within DBT. So affirming the person and their humanity and their experience is critical within DBT.

Within ACT, there’s an emphasis on the inevitability of pain. A big tenant in existential therapy is the givens. Uncertainty, uncontrollability, isolation, impermanence, change, the inevitability of change. In that, these things are things we all struggle with, and ACT really emphasizes that pain is inevitable, and we have to persist in spite of emotional distress.

And very congruent with humanistic existential find meaning even in the most adverse circumstances and persist towards development of our highest selves and best selves even in the context of pain and adversity. And, obviously, that comes from Frankl and his experiences. That work doesn’t only come from Frankl, but Frankl was a big influencer and meaning-focused work in the existential field, existential psychology field.

So that’s all. I hope that I’ve given you a little bit of insight into the complexity and comprehensiveness of the humanistic existential approach, and I encourage everyone to learn more. Thank you. 

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