Viktor Frankl states human beings are made up of mind, body, and spirit. And we are our spirit. This notion is similar to many religious beliefs. And in all honesty, this is a notion I believed in before I became a mental health worker.
Logotherapy is a school of psychotherapy that is meaning-centered. The three main tenets of logotherapy are: Meaning in life, freedom of will, and will to meaning. Frankl states that life offers meaning even in the darkest of times and seeking this meaning can prepare human beings for their suffering and eventually give meaning to their life by honoring their suffering. The ultimate goal is to activate this will to discover meaning under any life circumstances.
“If there is a meaning in life at all, then there must be a meaning in suffering. Suffering is an ineradicable part of life, even as fate and death. Without suffering and death human life cannot be complete” (Frankl, 1984, p. 88).
There is a growing literature present on the validity of logotherapy and existential analysis. In daily life, finding meaning can be as simple as following your duties, being a responsible member of society, and/or listening to your conscience.
The major therapeutic goals for logotherapy have been to help the client discover their purpose, and sense of identity; to make meaning authentic decisions in life; to create and embrace the life that truly matters to them; to awaken their sense of meaning.
The most efficient way I have applied logotherapy in my personal life and practice is by focusing on helping others. This was one of the main reasons I pursued psychology. I found meaning in helping others.
“If you want to feel happy, do something for yourself. If you want to feel fulfilled, do something for someone else.”- Simon Sinek
Sometimes people find themselves weighed down by the obstacles and challenges in their lives. They tend to become self-absorbed and overly fixated on their problems, losing connection with those around them. By simply encouraging them to look around and being concerned or helping others (loved ones and/or strangers) might help them feel purposeful in their life. This practice is called dereflection in logotherapy. I find this approach to be self-transcendent.
In another practice under logotherapy, the client is usually encouraged to engage in their most feared action or thought. This is called paradoxical intention. When the client does so, the less fearful they are towards the said outcomes and it helps decrease their anxiety. This technique I have found effective in dealing with anxiety, phobia, stress, and general intrusive thoughts. It is based on the notion that the more fixated you are on a consequence, the more opposite outcomes you will attract.
Another technique that I had come across a few years ago and recently got to know that it is a part of logotherapy is Socratic dialogue. In Socratic dialogue, the therapist would engage in a dialogue with the client and using the clients words and chain of thoughts attempt to draw out the meaning and answer from within the client. The notion is, the answer to every question is within you.
All the above-mentioned techniques help the clients adopt a different attitude instead of forcing themselves to unwillingly change behaviors thus decreasing the chances of relapse.