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Fast Guide to Logotherapy

ThriveTalk Staff ∙ Updated: 03/22/2020 Medically Reviewed 

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Are you looking for a sense of purpose in your life? Logotherapy may be the answer that you’ve been searching for. Discovering your life’s purpose can help you to develop resilience so that you can face life’s challenges more easily. Logotherapy can help to improve the quality of your life as well as to restore your emotional wellbeing.

Logotherapy: What is it?

Logotherapy was created by Viktor Frankl who believed that people are motivated by a desire to derive meaning from the experiences that make up their lives. Frankl was a psychiatrist and neurologist who drew on his personal experiences in Nazi concentration camps to develop a new type of therapy.

Logotherapy facilitates a process where people can discover their purpose in life. In this application, the search for meaning is used to overcome psychological conditions and illnesses with the aim of restoring mental health.

Logotherapy Theory

Logotherapy is based on the belief that each individual has a healthy core. While each individual has their own experiences, logotherapy attributes psychological distress to a lack of meaning in an individual’s life.

Logotherapists work under the assumption that people have a body and mind as well as a spirit.  Every person is unique according to logotherapy. The therapy aims to provide people with the tools that they need to access their internal resources so that they can restore their own mental well-being. The assumption that life provides you with purpose and meaning also informed the development of logotherapy.  Life has meaning even when people are experiencing unavoidable suffering is an important belief that underlies this therapy.

According to logotherapy, people can discover their life’s purpose through completing tasks as well as through experiences and relationships. Meaning can also be derived from the attitude that an individual adopts when they are faced with suffering that they cannot avoid. People can derive meaning from the unique roles that they carry out.

Frankl developed the term noogenic neurosis to refer to the anxiety that some individuals develop following the working week due to a feeling of meaninglessness. This feeling is associated with emptiness and discontent as well as boredom and apathy. According to Frankl this sense of meaninglessness can result in aggression and depression. He also attributes addiction to this meaningless state.

How Does Logotherapy Suggest the Mind Works?

Logotherapy suggests that the mind is driven by an inner desire to discover meaning in life. This desire to make meaning from experiences is what motivates people to live. Logotherapy suggests that our minds are free to create meaning from our experiences. This means that while suffering is viewed as inevitable, the individual is free to adjust their attitude towards their painful experiences.

How Does Logotherapy Cause Change?

Logotherapy can cause change by motivating people to alter their attitudes toward painful experiences in their lives. While people may not be able to control their experiences of anxiety and depression, they can choose how to respond to them. When people choose to respond differently to challenging situations, it is a step forward towards reclaiming their lives.

Therapists help people to find meaning in their lives and to reconnect them with their values, which can help to disrupt the context that mental health conditions exist in. Logotherapy helps people to understand that they can respond differently and that they are able to live their life in alignment with their values. The therapist facilitates a process of self-reflection where people can explore their responses and the effects of these responses.

What Happens in a Logotherapy Session?

Techniques Used in Logotherapy

Three crucial logotherapy techniques include dereflection, paradoxical intention, and Socratic dialogue.

If a person is fixated on a problem, dereflection is a technique that is used to divert their attention away from the self and towards something that is important to them. By taking a break and focusing on something else people experience relief from the pressure that they have put themselves under.

Paradoxical intention is a technique that is used to disrupt the cycle of anticipatory anxiety which refers to the experience of being worried about becoming anxious. During this process, people address the source of their anxiety and confront what they fear the most. Some of logotherapy’s techniques involve exposing clients to their fears with the aim of desensitizing them which means that this therapy can be used in conjunction with cognitive behavioral therapy.

The third technique that is instrumental in logotherapy is Socratic dialogue. This process involves the therapists paying close attention to their client’s words to help the person to derive meaning from their experiences. This is an empowering technique which enables clients to discover the resources that they have within themselves which can be used to overcome their problems.

Does Logotherapy Work?

While psychological healing is a personal journey and the same techniques don’t work for everyone, there is an abundance of cases that show how logotherapy can help you to restore mental health.

Logotherapy

What Kinds of Concerns is Logotherapy Best For?

Logotherapy is used to treat an extensive range of mental health issues. This type of therapy is particularly beneficial for people who are struggling with posttraumatic stress and anxiety. Logotherapy is helpful for people who are suffering from depression and it can also be used to treat substance abuse.

The techniques can be used to prevent burnout as well, a condition which is connected to depression as well as a type of post-traumatic stress disorder. Symptoms of burnout include fatigue as well as feelings of isolation and disengagement. Burnout usually follows stressful periods of working under pressure. In these instances, logotherapists can help to decrease an individual’s risk of burnout by asking them questions that help them change their attitude to their work. Not only are these techniques instrumental in the prevention of burnout, they can be used in its treatment too.

How Are Logotherapy Specialists Trained?

Logotherapists complete extensive training in the techniques and methodologies that Viktor Frankl developed. Training includes the history of Franklian Psychology as well as training in how people find meaning when faced with unavoidable suffering. The training deals with the uniqueness of each person as well as the theory of attitudinal change. The steps of logotherapy are also covered. Certifications are available through the Viktor Frankl Institute of Logotherapy.

Concerns/Limitations of Logotherapy

Logotherapy has been criticised for being too authoritarian. Critics claim that logotherapy can prevent the client from taking responsibility for their own experiences as the therapist provides the client with meaning if they can’t make meaning from their experiences themselves. Another concern that has been raised is that it is founded on the belief that there are identifiable solutions to every problem.

Important Practitioners in Logotherapy

Viktor Frankl

Viktor Frankl developed logotherapy in response to his experiences in Nazi concentration camps. The Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist developed techniques which have made a valuable contribution to the field of existential analysis.

Frankl is the acclaimed author of the book, Man’s Search for Meaning. The book provides insight into Frankl’s experiences as a prisoner in the Nazi’s concentration camps, which led him to find meaning amongst unavoidable suffering. Frankl was interested in Psychology from an early age and he completed a medical qualification at the University of Vienna. He continued to study neurology and psychiatry with a focus on depression as well as suicide. His early work drew from Sigmund Freud as well as Alfred Adler but he diverted from their teachings later on in his life.

While Frankl was a medical student he set up a program to offer university student’s free counseling. The students offered additional support to students when they received their university results. The success of his initiative was evident in that no students committed suicide during 1931 when his program was running at the university. From 1933 to 1937, Frankl continued his work to prevent suicide at the Steinhof Psychiatric Hospital in Vienna.

In 1942, Frankl was sent to the Nazi Theresienstadt Ghetto where he worked in a psychiatric ward and developed a program to assist people who were new to the camp to deal with their shock and grief. He continued his suicide prevention work by setting up a program to offer support to individuals who were at risk for suicide. Frankl was moved to Auschwitz concentration camp in 1944 and then to Kaufering concentration camp where he worked as a slave laborer. Frankl’s entire family except for his sister, Stella, were murdered in the concentration camps that they were sent to.

Frankl survived and was set free in 1945 when he went to Vienna to lecture the new approach that he developed to psychological healing. His experiences led him to believe that it is possible to obtain meaning even in the most dire circumstances. It was this belief that formed the foundation for logotherapy as well as for his existential analysis work. Frankl continued his career by running the Vienna Polyclinic of Neurology as well as completing a Ph.D. in philosophy. He gave lectures to students across the globe and was the recipient of 29 honorary doctoral degrees. He is the author of 39 books.

How to Find a Therapist

What Should I be Looking for in an LMHP?

While finding the right therapist is ultimately a personal decision, there are general guidelines that you can follow to help you make the right choice.

You should feel comfortable talking to your therapist so it’s important to choose someone that you can relate to.

Compassion is another important quality to look for in a therapist. Make sure that you know what your therapist’s approach is to their sessions so that you can determine if you are comfortable with their methods.

You can also check if your therapist has an area of specialization. It can be helpful to seek out a therapist who has expertise in the specific mental health challenges that you are facing. The more experience that your therapist has with the issue that you’re struggling with, the more benefit you are likely to gain from your sessions with them.

It’s advisable to select a counselor who has a good reputation for their ethical principles. Therapists are prohibited from engaging in dual relationships which means that they should not treat anyone who is their friend, employee or family member. Therapists are required to maintain confidentiality and they need to maintain healthy boundaries. One way to assess the therapist’s adherence to these ethical principles is to check if any complaints have been laid against them.

Check that the therapist is licensed as this helps to ensure that you will be provided with a quality service. Licensing requires the therapist to have the right qualifications and experience to do their job effectively. Ask about the therapist’s qualifications to ensure that they have the right training to offer you the best possible service.

Questions to Ask a Potential Therapist

  • What is your approach to therapy?
  • What is your area of specialization?
  • What qualifications do you have?
  • Are you a licensed therapist?
  • What is your availability?

Find a therapist today and start your journey towards emotional wellbeing. Logotherapy provides you with useful tools that can help you to reclaim your life from mental illness. Sessions with a logotherapist aim to facilitate psychological healing through helping you to find meaning and purpose in your life.

About the author 

ThriveTalk Staff


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