Existential philosopher Soren Kierkegaard said “Life can
only be understand backwards, but must be lived forwards”. There is a limit to
what we can control and what we can plan for and if 2020 so far has anything to
teach us, it is that.
In these pandemic days we have been plunged into uncertainty,
into a situation that will only truly be understood backwards and must be lived
forwards. There are times that we can get around this to a certain extent, we
can keep our personal world small and surround ourselves only with the familiar
There are two main types of humanistic psychotherapies that I draw on and they are Gestalt therapy and Person-centred psychotherapy. The main tenet of these therapies is that the counselling or psychotherapy client knows best what is right for them. My job is help you get in touch with your ‘inner expert’.
They are respectful therapies in that they take quite an egalitarian approach, believing that the best way to support the client is to be a fellow traveller, a fellow human being (as though that can be avoided!
What does it mean for a humanistic or existential therapist to ‘see the whole person’? When we are in the midst of our suffering, it can be difficult to see beyond the symptom, or the wish for a ‘prescription’ that will heal it. We may want to be rid of it, see it as alien to us, or outside of us. Many therapies work solely with the symptom and work to reduce its impact, which is an important part of the work, but the humanistic therapies also recognise that the meaning of the symptom differs from one person to the next.