Reflection of Original Self-Exploration Paper
Almost the entire first page of my original self-exploration page discussed how I "have a strong desire to feel and see things the way that person does" and "the desire to adapt to others' ways of thinking." I realize now that this is simply called empathy, which is useful in any counseling situation. Since empathy is such an important skill in counseling and a skill that cannot necessarily be taught, I am pleased to know that I have a career choice that fits my worldview.
Spirituality is another aspect that I discussed several times in my first paper. I wrote "...the idea that we are part of something bigger than us...is therapeutic." Another revealing thought was "I have free will and that I am to use this free will to serve this higher purpose." I saw my thoughts repeated when I read Viktor Frankl's Man's Search for Meaning. Frankl explains how some men in his concentration camp survived over others was because they could turn towards their inner spirituality and still get meaning - and a reason to survive - out of life (Frankl, 1962). As I review Man's Search for Meaning, I am again moved by Frankl's words and agree with him in every aspect as he describes logotherapy. I especially am drawn to his explanation on how one can discover meaning in life (doing deeds, experiencing value, and by suffering) (Frankl, 1962, p. 113). Essentially, Frankl attributes spirituality to love because love leads to self-transcendence. He says that love is the "ultimate and highest goal to wish man can aspire." (Frankl 1962, p 36)
His idea of making meaning out of suffering and how our attitude towards the suffering effects the meaning we get from it was something I had not discussed in my original paper but probably should have. I am of the belief that everything happens for a reason, even the bad stuff, and that God has a plan for it all. According to Frankl, I am ready to suffer because my suffering would have meaning to me. Religion doesn't have to play a part in making meaning out of suffering, though: It's simply the attitude taken regarding suffering. Someone else might take the stance that their suffering would help their art, that they are saving someone else from suffering, or that they might be contributing to a cause - all are examples of love and transcendence.
This brings me to my final thoughts regarding existentialism and my original paper. I mentioned in my paper how I believe I have free will and that I should use this free will to do good and serve a higher power. In other words, I have freedom and with that freedom comes a responsibility. This is an existentialist thought and would provide a moral compass for me whether I had religion or not.
As passionate as I am about Frankl's thoughts, I don't always believe that love and spirituality have to be the focus of therapy. This is a breakthrough because in my original paper I discussed how I need to overcome how to deal with someone who has no spirituality to make meaning. (Again, I mimicked Frankl's work in my original paper without knowing it.) A key element to logotherapy is creating cognitive change, or changing the attitude one takes when viewing their current plight (Frankl, 1962). In counseling someone who claims to have no spirituality and if I cannot find out what this person deeply loves, then I can take a more cognitive-behavioral approach to the therapy and still keep my logotherapy philosophy in tact: I can maintain my own worldview and still be able to help my client who has a different one.