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Chapter 4: Existential Theory and Counseling
1. A hospice chaplain told us that often people with terminal diseases make peace with their impending death and their lives become more rich and full. In contrast, a famous Dylan Thomas poem urges, “Do not go gently into that good night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light.” Peace or resistance? Rage or acceptance? Where do you find yourself?
2. Governments vary dramatically in the amount of individual freedoms available to citizens. States vary, cities vary, even families and couples vary in this domain. What makes freedom safe or dangerous within human groups? Should human freedom sometimes be limited?
3. Eastern philosophies often stress that our separations are illusions. We are all part of the great web of life. Does this argue against accepting and embracing our isolation? Is one view or the other true, or do they somehow both speak to ultimate reality?
4. What if you inferred the meaning of life from dominant media messages? Watch TV or read a few magazines and think about what messages about the meaning of life are conveyed.
5. Think of a time when you had an annoying physical symptom that seemed beyond your control (e.g., an eye twitch, excessive sweating). Do you think intentionally “trying” to produce the symptoms could give you more control over them?
6. What are your thoughts on the empirical status of existential approaches? If you went to therapy, what outcome measures do you think would be most important? What changes would you be seeking from therapy and, at the end of therapy, what would be the signs that you had achieved your goals?
Chapter 5: Person-Centered Theory and Counseling
1. One of the Rankian principles is that “Therapists shouldn’t seek to educate clients.” If you accept that principle, then what is it that therapists seek to do?”
2. Can you let clients lead during therapy? Try on the idea of letting go of your direction and goals, and letting clients talk about whatever they view as important.
3. What do you think helps congruence be therapeutic? If you were a client, what sorts of congruence would you find helpful? Along with your classmates, make a list of genuine therapist disclosures that could be destructive.
4. What might be some problems with having too much empathy? If you have issues that overlap with a client who you’re seeing, what challenges could arise? Would having issues similar to your client make it harder or easier to sit back and let the client talk freely, without your commentary?
5. Take a few moments to reflect on what you see as the similarities and differences between MI and PCT. What thoughts, feelings, and reactions come up for you when you imagine intentionally using amplified reflection?
6. What do you think about quickly directing the client to work on bulimia versus more gently exploring her fears? Discuss with your classmates the pros and cons of being directive and nondirective in this situation.