email page print pageAll Topic Reviews
Maximizing Effectiveness in Dynamic Psychotherapy Self-Compassion in Psychotherapy101 Healing StoriesA Clinician's Guide to Legal Issues in PsychotherapyA Map of the MindA Primer for Beginning PsychotherapyACT With LoveActive Treatment of DepressionAffect Regulation, Mentalization, and the Development of SelfAlready FreeBad TherapyBecoming an Effective PsychotherapistBecoming MyselfBefore ForgivingBeing a Brain-Wise TherapistBetrayed as BoysBeyond Evidence-Based PsychotherapyBeyond MadnessBeyond PostmodernismBinge No MoreBiofeedback for the BrainBipolar DisorderBody PsychotherapyBoundaries and Boundary Violations in PsychoanalysisBrain Change TherapyBrain Science and Psychological DisordersBrain-Based Therapy with AdultsBrain-Based Therapy with Children and AdolescentsBrief Adolescent Therapy Homework PlannerBrief Child Therapy Homework PlannerBrief Therapy Homework PlannerBuffy the Vampire Slayer and PhilosophyBuilding on BionCare of the PsycheCase Studies in DepressionCaught in the NetChild and Adolescent Treatment for Social Work PracticeChoosing an Online TherapistChronic DepressionClinical Dilemmas in PsychotherapyClinical Handbook of Psychological DisordersClinical Intuition in PsychotherapyClinical Pearls of WisdomCo-Creating ChangeCognitive Therapy for Challenging ProblemsCompassionConfessions of a Former ChildConfidential RelationshipsConfidentiality and Mental HealthConfidingContemplative Psychotherapy EssentialsControlConversations About Psychology and Sexual OrientationCoping with BPDCouch FictionCounseling in GenderlandCounseling with Choice TheoryCouple SkillsCrazy for YouCreating a Life of Meaning and CompassionCreating HysteriaCritical Issues in PsychotherapyCrucial Choices, Crucial ChangesDeafness In MindDecoding the Ethics CodeDeconstructing PsychotherapyDeep Brain StimulationDemystifying TherapyDepression 101Depression in ContextDialogues on DifferenceDissociative ChildrenDo-It-Yourself Eye Movement Techniques for Emotional HealingDoing CBTE-TherapyEarly WarningEncountering the Sacred in PsychotherapyEnergy Psychology InteractiveErrant SelvesEssays on Philosophical CounselingEssentials of Wais-III AssessmentEthically Challenged ProfessionsEthics and Values in PsychotherapyEthics in Plain EnglishEthics in Psychotherapy and CounselingExercise-Based Interventions for Mental IllnessExistential PsychotherapyExpectationExploring the Self through PhotographyExpressing EmotionFacing Human SufferingFairbairn's Object Relations Theory in the Clinical SettingFamily TherapyFavorite Counseling and Therapy Homework AssignmentsFear of IntimacyFlourishingFolie a DeuxForms of Intersubjectivity in Infant Reasearch and Adult TreatmentFoundations of Ethical Practice, Research, and Teaching in PsychologyFreud and the Question of PseudoscienceFrom Morality to Mental HealthFundamentals of Psychoanalytic TechniqueGenes on the CouchGod & TherapyHalf Empty, Half FullHandbook of Clinical Psychopharmacology for TherapistsHandbook of Counseling and Psychotherapy with Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual ClientsHandbook of Evidence-Based Therapies for Children and AdolescentsHealing the Heart and Mind with MindfulnessHeinz KohutHelping Children Cope With Disasters and TerrorismHigh RiskHistory of PsychotherapyHow and Why Are Some Therapists Better Than Others?How Clients Make Therapy WorkHow People ChangeHow Psychotherapists DevelopHow to Fail As a TherapistHow to Go to TherapyHypnosis for Inner Conflict ResolutionHypnosis for Smoking CessationI Never Promised You a Rose GardenIf Only I Had KnownIn Others' EyesIn SessionIn Therapy We TrustIn Treatment: Season 1Incorporating Spirituality in Counseling and PsychotherapyInside the SessionInside TherapyIs Long-Term Therapy Unethical?Issues in Philosophical CounselingIt's Not as Bad as It SeemsItís Your HourLearning ACTLearning from Our MistakesLearning Supportive PsychotherapyLetters to a Young TherapistLife CoachingLogotherapy and Existential AnalysisLove's ExecutionerMadness and DemocracyMaking the Big LeapMan's Search for MeaningMaybe You Should Talk to SomeoneMetaphoria: Metaphor and Guided Metaphor for Psychotherapy and HealingMind GamesMindfulnessMindfulness and AcceptanceMindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy for DepressionMindworks: An Introduction to NLPMockingbird YearsMoments of EngagementMomma and the Meaning of LifeMotivational Interviewing: Preparing People For ChangeMulticulturalism and the Therapeutic ProcessMultifamily Groups in the Treatment of Severe Psychiatric DisordersNarrative PracticeNietzsche and PsychotherapyOn the CouchOne Nation Under TherapyOur Inner WorldOur Last Great IllusionOutsider ArtOutsider Art and Art TherapyOvercoming Destructive Beliefs, Feelings, and BehaviorsOverexposedPathways to SpiritualityPersonality and PsychotherapyPhilosophical CounselingPhilosophical Counselling and the UnconsciousPhilosophical Issues in Counseling and PsychotherapyPhilosophical PracticePhilosophy and PsychotherapyPhilosophy for Counselling and PsychotherapyPhilosophy PracticePhilosophy's Role in Counseling and PsychotherapyPillar of SaltPlan BPlato, Not Prozac!Polarities of ExperiencesPower GamesPractical Psychoanalysis for Therapists and PatientsPrinciples and Practice of Sex TherapyProcess-Based CBTPromoting Healthy AttachmentsPsychologists Defying the CrowdPsychology, Psychotherapy, Psychoanalysis, and the Politics of Human RelationshipsPsychosis in the FamilyPsychotherapyPsychotherapyPsychotherapy and ConfidentialityPsychotherapy As PraxisPsychotherapy East and WestPsychotherapy for Children and AdolescentsPsychotherapy for Personality DisordersPsychotherapy Is Worth ItPsychotherapy Isn't What You ThinkPsychotherapy with Adolescent Girls and Young WomenPsychotherapy with Children and AdolescentsPsychotherapy without the SelfPsychotherapy, American Culture, and Social PolicyRapid Cognitive TherapyRational Emotive Behavior TherapyRational Emotive Behavior TherapyRationality and the Pursuit of HappinessRebuilding Shattered LivesReclaiming Our ChildrenRecovery OptionsRelationalityRent Two Films and Let's Talk in the MorningSaving the Modern SoulScience and Pseudoscience in Clinical PsychologySecond-order Change in PsychotherapySelf-Compassion in PsychotherapySelf-Determination Theory in the ClinicSelf-Disclosure in Psychotherapy and RecoverySerious ShoppingSex, Therapy, and KidsSexual Orientation and Psychodynamic PsychotherapySigns of SafetySoul Murder RevisitedStaring at the SunStraight to JesusStrangers to OurselvesSubjective Experience and the Logic of the OtherTaking America Off DrugsTales of PsychotherapyTales of UnknowingTalk is Not EnoughTalking Cures and Placebo EffectsTelling SecretsThe Behavioral Medicine Treatment PlannerThe Body in PsychotherapyThe Brief Couples Therapy Homework Planner with DiskThe Case Formulation Approach to Cognitive-Behavior TherapyThe Challenge for Psychoanalysis and PsychotherapyThe Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy Treatment PlannerThe Clinical Child Documentation SourcebookThe Clinical Documentation SourcebookThe Complete Adult Psychotherapy Treatment PlannerThe Couch and the TreeThe Couples Psychotherapy Treatment PlannerThe Crucible of ExperienceThe Cure of SoulsThe Death of PsychotherapyThe Education of Mrs. BemisThe Ethical Treatment of DepressionThe Ethics of PsychoanalysisThe Gay and Lesbian Psychotherapy Treatment PlannerThe Gift of TherapyThe Great Psychotherapy Debate: The Evidence for What Makes Psychotherapy Work The Healing JourneyThe Heart & Soul of ChangeThe Heroic ClientThe Husbands and Wives ClubThe Love CureThe Making of a TherapistThe Mindful TherapistThe Mirror Crack'dThe Mummy at the Dining Room TableThe Neuroscience of PsychotherapyThe Neuroscience of Psychotherapy: Healing the Social BrainThe New Rational TherapyThe Older Adult Psychotherapy Treatment PlannerThe Other Side of DesireThe Pastoral Counseling Treatment PlannerThe Philosopher's Autobiography The Pornographer's GriefThe Portable CoachThe Portable Ethicist for Mental Health Professionals The Present Moment in Psychotherapy and Everyday LifeThe Problem of EvilThe Problem with Cognitive Behavioural TherapyThe Psychodynamics of Gender and Gender RoleThe Psychotherapy Documentation PrimerThe Psychotherapy Documentation PrimerThe Psychotherapy of HopeThe Real World Guide to Psychotherapy PracticeThe Schopenhauer CureThe Sex Lives of TeenagersThe Talking CureThe Therapeutic "Aha!"The Therapist's Guide to PsychopharmacologyThe Therapist's Guide to Psychopharmacology, Revised EditionThe Therapist's Ultimate Solution BookThe Trauma of Everyday LifeThe Trouble with IllnessThe UnsayableThe Way of the JournalTheory and Practice of Brief TherapyTherapy with ChildrenTherapy's DelusionsTheraScribe 3.0 for WindowsTheraScribe 4.0Thinking about ThinkingThinking for CliniciansThinking for CliniciansThoughts Without a ThinkerThriveToward a Psychology of AwakeningTracking Mental Health OutcomesTrauma, Truth and ReconciliationTreating Attachment DisordersTreatment for Chronic DepressionTreatment Plans and Interventions for Depression and Anxiety DisordersUnderstanding Child MolestersUnspeakable Truths and Happy EndingsWhat the Buddha FeltWhat Works for Whom?What Works for Whom? Second EditionWhen the Body SpeaksWhispers from the EastWise TherapyWittgenstein and PsychotherapyWorking MindsWoulda, Coulda, ShouldaWriting About PatientsYoga Skills for Therapists:Yoga Therapy
Daniel Sousa's Existential Psychotherapy: A Genetic-Phenomenological Approach seeks to legitimize two lesser-known psychotherapeutic approaches. First, Sousa intends to establish the therapeutic legitimacy of existential psychotherapy within the big tent of psychotherapies in general. Second, he defends the value of static and genetic phenomenology, drawn from Husserl's phenomenology of time consciousness, to the existential psychotherapeutic enterprise.
Chapter one provides a review and synthesis of the major meta-analyses of empirical research to date, regarding the most effective, and least effective psychotherapeutic interventions and correlative psychotherapist skills and qualities. The chapter offers a valuable list of the therapeutic principles that receive strong empirical support and that are basic to any effective psychotherapeutic practice. These informative insights from Sousa's synthesis of all the meta-analyses studied are articulated: 1) there is consensus between medical models and contextual models regarding specific effective psychotherapeutic factors, and 2) variability of effectiveness among psychotherapists is not related to therapist age, gender, academic qualifications nor years of experience, nor by their patients' age, gender and diagnosis, but rather to therapists' specific personal and professional qualities. Years of experience do not translate into increased clinical expertise. Rather, the factors that lend to improvement in clinical expertise and those lending to improvement in expertise in other professions are found to be nearly identical: the best clinicians deliberately practice more, acquire deeper knowledge of their area, systematically gather feedback on their performance, learn in a structured way to surpass habits and performance, work harder, focus on specific aims, and consciously monitor their performance and results over long periods of time. Sousa successfully summarizes these general criteria for effective psychotherapeutic practices, supporting his defense of the legitimacy of existential psychotherapy within the big tent of psychotherapies in general.
Sousa's second objective, in Chapter two, is to articulate the value of the philosophical resources of genetic phenomenology for existential psychotherapeutic applications. The chapter is a competent overview of Husserl's phenomenological contribution to philosophies of subjectivity. But Sousa's second objective is a harder sell. To this end, he asks his desired audience, presumably psychotherapists, to assimilate Husserl's conceptual framework: internal time consciousness, phenomenological vocabulary and epistemological formulations, and the techniques of epochéand eidetic analysis, as relationally reconfigured. Thus readers have a model of static and genetic phenomenology to consider, which Sousa argues to be the desirable theoretical underpinning of existential psychotherapy. Sousa concisely summarizes the theoretical framework of the genetic-phenomenological approach into seven theoretical claims that are key concepts presupposed by all existential philosophies: intentionality, inner-time consciousness, self-reflective narrative identity, passive geneses of experience, angst, interrelatedness, and the givens of existence. (133-134)
Many psychotherapeutic practitioners will question whether existential psychotherapies, already a minority within the psychotherapy tent, ought to assimilate this Husserlian epistemological framework. They may wonder: for what reasons and in service to what clinical objectives? Unfortunately, Sousa undermines his own aim when he describes, in Chapter Three, some of the "misconceptions" in the world of existential psychotherapy. One of these, supposedly contributing to its outsider status, is the error of presenting existential psychotherapy as a philosophical approach. Sousa writes, "The approach is based on an existential-phenomenological epistemology, but is not distinguished from other therapeutic models for being philosophical – all models have philosophical roots – since its theoretical principles are rooted in psychology and psychotherapy." (131) The phenomenological scaffolding that is so carefully developed in Chapter Two and Three is contradicted by Sousa's claim, unless we erroneously assume that phenomenology is not "philosophical" but rather "psychological."
Chapter three expansively develops all of these theoretical presuppositions introduced in chapter two, organizing their implications and synthesizing them with the transversal findings of evidence-based effective therapeutic techniques defined in the first chapter. It presents and defines relational stances, organized within "static" phenomenology that encompasses the use of the phenomenological epochéand eidetic analysis within the relational context of the therapeutic situation. (144-147) Further, Sousa presents a schema of existential psychotherapy techniques aligned with evidence-based practices in general and with "genetic" phenomenology in particular. This schema provides the subjective (and phenomenological) fundamentals of techniques facilitating the client's process of change during the existential psychotherapeutic treatment. These include: hermeneutics of dream interpretation, focus on embodiment, existential challenges to the client's assumptions, experiential validation, and reflexive activation of the passive geneses of experience in the present situation of interpretation. (148-151)
The accomplishments of the first three chapters - meta-analysis findings, epistemological and technical schema - are weakened by the editorial error of allowing chapter four, "Practical Applications and Clinical Case" to stand as the final chapter. This chapter is poorly edited: riddled with incomplete sentences, lack of paragraph structure, and typographical errors, such as referencing an "attachment" in the body of the text, instead of the intended Table A.1 that is included in the Appendix. The chapter provides four interviews with four different patients, "vignettes," that are used to illustrate existential clinical methods, and one interview-based case that explores the emotional impact on someone who is indirectly, but deeply affected by the 9/11 terrorist attack on the New York World Trade Towers and occupants. This case is presented in largely descriptive terms, using the psychotherapeutic discourse of trauma and concepts of genetic phenomenology elaborated in chapter four. Some of the existential descriptive passages about this person's suffering seem gratuitously philosophical and esoteric, for example in the application of Heideggerian notions of Dasein and its experience of fallen-ness and the uncanny. The Husserlian notion of "passive geneses sedimented in the retentional chain of temporal consciousness" appears to be a substitute for the more commonly used notion of the unconscious and pre-conscious strata of mind. (208) But there is no theoretical rationale anywhere in the book, for the substitutions of phenomenology for such psychological concepts. It is all offered as an alternative, densely complex discourse. For what reasons and in service to what clinical objectives? This is a question that is never addressed.
© 2018 Kate Mehuron
Kate Mehuron, Professor of Philosophy, Eastern Michigan University, Academic Candidate, Michigan Psychoanalytic Institute. Correspondence: firstname.lastname@example.org