The existential effect in therapy and counseling

Primal intentionality as fundament for the flashover of the „igniting spark” in a dialogue

Alfried Längle

The significance of therapeutic relationship as fundament for successful therapy has sufficiently been documented. But why can the therapeutic relationship have such an effect at all? How does relationship take effect? The question which role personhood plays in relationship events is central in Existential Analysis (EA). It then becomes clear that the concept of relationship does not suffice to explain the therapeutic effect but requires supplement through the concept of encounter. But what is the specific contribution of encounter, why is it that within encounter, such a special energy, precisely „a spark“ flashes over during the dialogue? The attempt is made to show, that this igniting being-touched is connected to the primordial attachment and alignment of the human being with the world which is enclosed as primal intentionality in all motivation as a core. When this is addressed and reached, life “ignites” in the human being.

The aim of this work is to cast a glance at deeply effective forces and what moves deeply in therapy and counseling, particularly at the emergence of the existentially touching moment, thus the existential effect. What do therapists, what do patients and what does togetherness contribute to the moving events of personization in the patient? The concept of primal intentionality behind the fundamental motivations is illustrated. These foundational reflections are demonstrated by means of situations in therapy practice in which precisely this flashover of an „igniting spark” took place.

Keywords: therapeutic relationship, encounter, dialogue, primal intentionality, existential moment, anthropological model

Does empathy reduce the risk of illness?

Those who do good to others live healthier

Joachim Bauer

Most often they enter life unexpectedly, the widespread diseases of our times: heart attack, cancer or dementia. But in most cases, they actually have an unrecognized prehistory for years; “Flying below the radar”, subtly proceeding inflammations. New studies now have shown that a philanthropic, empathetic inner basic attitude can influence genes in a way which calms these hidden inflammatory processes.

Keywords: Social Genomics, CTRA-Response, risk genes, empathy, eudemonia, gene activity

Silence and flying sparks

Making encounter possible (again) in a couple’s relationship

Susanne Pointner

During the Corona Crisis the lockdowns became a magnifying glass for relationships. The pursuit of happiness was relocated into the homes and often under difficult conditions led to development boosts or painful separations as well. In order to suppress the pain due to the loss of intimacy, partners in crises often search for escape routes from the relationship – destructive conflict resolution strategies, withdrawal, overregulation, addiction, affairs. Clients then sooner seek help in individual settings than in couple settings. Those affected usually anticipate themselves what they – even more their partners – would have to change, but they no longer have the motivation or the energy for this anymore. Existential Analytical psychotherapy and counseling do not aim at finding solutions; instead they create space for realization, encounter, change in attitude and shared development. In the process, it is crucial to enhance external understanding and dialogue ability of the client both outward as well as inward and to strengthen the capability of encounter.
In the article, the existential analytical accompaniment of a client in a relationship crisis is illustrated on the basis of film excerpts and a fictitious case analysis.

Keywords: couple relationship, love, encounter, conflict, Personal Existential Analysis

Is it you/are you there?

On the uncertainty of becoming aware of the you

Erika Luginbühl-Schwab

As spiritual beings, as a person, we humans seek an open, dialogical exchange with the ‘you’ of the other person, in which a spark is ignited and encounter can happen. Encounter is the resonance space in which we are able to become aware of what is our own. Simultaneously, it is also the breeding ground for inner growth. In counseling and therapeutic conversations, we intend to encounter the ‘you’, because the ‘you’, the person, is the source of authenticity and resource in dealing with hardships. However, what do we experience in the exchange with our patients? Can we detect whether we are encountering the ‘you’? And how do we deal with it when we fail and do not notice that the ‘you’ remains hidden from us?

Keywords: Encounter, dialogue, suicide, failure as a therapist

Existential Communication

Features of phenomenological interviewing

Christoph Kolbe

Psychotherapeutic interviews and counseling often aim at making people understand themselves and gain insights they can subsequently translate into action or attitudes. But we can only arrive at an insight when it is of immediate concern to us, when it is meaningful due to its existential relevance for us. How can we then succeed to conduct interviews in the horizon of such relevance?
The essential conditions for existential communication are presented in this article: the experience, what moves and content meaning. Steps are described as to how the interviewer can fathom what is essential in a phenomenological process. And it will be demonstrated how it can become accessible through enquiries while maintaining an attitude of openness, without interpretation nor suggestion – an interviewing which enables encounter between people by gaining insight along the issue.

Keywords: communication, dialogue, phenomenology, phenomenological interviewing, encounter, insight

Religiosity and spirituality in therapy – from the existential to the spiritual-religious moment in the therapeutic relationship

René Hefti

Spirituality can be understood as the “depth dimension” in psychotherapy, which grasps the human being in its wholeness and existential references. Religiosity takes an effect beyond the existential dimension and refers to transcendence. How do these dimensions affect the therapeutic relationship, the process of therapy and the therapy result in the end? Does a shift of emphasis occur at this point?
Religiously and spiritually adapted therapeutic approaches are increasingly being applied and achieve good results in studies. An own study underlines the meaning of religious and spiritual aspects for the therapeutic relationship and the process of therapy. On the basis of a patient example and a phenomenological analysis (reflection), the qualitative changes in the therapeutic relationship are elaborated, and consequences for therapeutic work with religious/spiritual patients are illustrated.

Keywords: religiosity, spirituality, therapeutic relationship, resonance

Differentiation in the relationship

Delimitation of what is one’s own from the other in couple

Eva Maria Berger

The initially intoxicating relationships of those newly in love make them profoundly happy. As wonderful as this state may be, it is not of lasting nature. One’s own needs, value concepts and wishes increasingly want to be recognized, respected and considered after a few years at the latest. When what is one’s own of each partner emerges, the collision may overstrain and seem to only break fresh ground through the dissolution of the relationship. As couple therapists we search for answers together with the couples as to how differentiation can be lived inside the relationship. We support them in the art of equally letting be what is one’s own and what is different, in an appreciative, unifying relationship.

Keywords: closeness, differentiation, relationship, couple therapy

Everything under the banner of the rings

Relationships as performance factor among young professional athletes

Andrea Engleder

Living environments of young professional athletes are incomparable to those of teenagers of the same age group. Everyday life is determined by discipline, exercise schedules and preparations for competitions, journeys, success experiences, disappointments and also solitude. Especially when adolescents live and do their training in sports training centers hundreds of kilometers from home. Which relationships render support in such a reality of life? The following contribution places particular attention on relational structures in competitive sports of the young generation, with all its resources and challenges. How can psychological support be provided from an existential analytical perspective, in order to remain in relationship to oneself and ones most important environment in the moments of highest success or failure?

Keywords: competitive sports, relationship, mental health, performance psychology

What sparks when we are open and get involved?

Esther Kohl

This article describes a workshop in which specific exercises from Performing Arts enabled participants to practically experience the double dialogical openness of Existential Analysis and to theoretically put this into language. Through carefully guided movements accompanied by music, a room was created allowing the participants to experience, and subsequently exercise and reflect personal encounter with existential significance. Whether a spark between the participants can be ignited in such an occurring resonance space depends on them personally. Phenomenological openness towards their inner world and towards the created situation in their outer world is basis and aim of this workshop. Their emotional experiences in this responsive process are unpredictable. Together we try to trace and share them, permitting other participants to resonate. This enables an intense encounter and closeness in a quite short period of time.

Keywords: Existential Pedagogy, Performing Arts, Encounter, Resonance, Double Dialogical Openness

Encounter culture in the company

Experiences in the development of attitudes of value with staff members

Rainer Kinast

For something to become an existential value, the inner as well as the outer dialogue is required. The question which arises for the executives (who are not the psychotherapists of their employees) is how these dialogues can be translated into daily management routine and how values can be mediated in the operational context of the company. Following a short theoretical outline of the difference between an encounter culture and an atmosphere of social coldness and how values can be mediated, the 9 month value process in a nursing home which preserved and strengthened the culture of encounter during the particularly challenging times of the pandemic is described.

Keywords: attitudes of values, operational value processes, encounter culture

(Spiritual) basic approach of a leading person developing a “culture of encounter”

Jürgen A. Baumann

As a first step, the article delves into the basic ethical-spiritual attitude of a leader by dealing with the understanding of spirituality, spiritual leadership and with prerequisites and basic attitudes. The second step is to work out the practical-pragmatic and ethical-spiritual approaches that are possible in leadership practice and in everyday life. These are unfolded along the fundamental motivations and illustrated in rudimentary form. It turns out that in many approaches, successful self-leadership is also the basis for leading others and building a desired “culture of encounter.”

Keywords: spirituality, culture, attitude, (spiritual) leadership, fundamental motivations, practice

Existential Analysis and feminism in dialogue – the spark of empowerment

Lydia Müller

Based on the consideration of how psychotherapeutic encounters and social coexistence are related, this article is devoted to an analysis of self-determination and empowerment from an existential and feminist perspective. Points of contact and synergies for therapeutic action are worked out in dialogical reference to the respective other position.

Keywords: self-determination, feminism, concept of human being in Existential Analysis, phenomenological approach, empowerment

„When it sparks“ – flying sparks with Luke

…and what we can learn from it

Rupert Dinhobl

In this article two flying sparks in the Gospel of Luke are described: The flying sparks in the confrontation of Maria with the Angel (Luke 1: 26-38) and the flying sparks in the encounter of Maria with Elisabeth (Luke 1: 39-45). While the first was a rather traumatic intrusion into the life of Maria, the second reveals itself as healing encounter. An attempt is made to inscribe the method of Personal Existential Analysis of A. Längle into these texts and to explore what we as Existential Analysts can learn from them.

Keywords: spirituality, Maria, encounter, Personal Existential Analysis