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A Worldview

Unique among theorists, existentialists have conceptualized their philosophy in context. They suggest that all theories have usefulness and are useful depending on the individuals and the issues needing to be addressed. As indicated by Bugental (1996), in a discipline that is at odds with itself, it is unique in being able to identify the utility of other approaches. According to Bugental, there are six levels of helping goals, extending from behavioral change to spiritual development. Corresponding to the six goals are six different types of helping, from behavioral to transpersonal.

Others have also seen the value of a broader perspective. Vontress, Johnson, and Epp (1999) stated that existential counselors or therapists need to be flexible, integrating other counseling approaches as appropriate for the given client. Wilber (1997) and Davis (2003) also offered a broader viewpoint, incorporating other theoretical orientations into a developmental schema. For Wilber, an individual's pathology is seen as a matter of degree, beginning with psychotic symptoms and advancing to spiritual struggles. Like Bugental (1996), Wilber saw each theory as subtly answering the questions raised at various levels of dysfunction. The physiological and biochemical interventions (psychiatry) are more effective for psychotic symptoms. Psychodynamic and existential therapies are a bridge to transpersonal techniques. Each theory is seen as having a contribution, but none has the answer for all people or all issues. Besides viewing itself in the context of other counseling or psychotherapy theories, existential theory also perceives the individual in an ever- changing environment. Within a family, a gender, a language, a culture, a time period, and a system, individuals struggle to find identity and meaning.

Several writers have packaged existentialism with other approaches. Schneider (2008) and Fernando (2007) illustrated the ways that other solution-focused therapeutic approaches can easily be integrated into a broader approach using an existential perspective. Elliott and Greenberg (2007) folded humanistic counseling into process-experiential psychotherapy and emotion-focused counseling. Because existential issues span the human experience, it makes sense that it would be valuable to bring the struggles with existence together with other counseling interventions. Within the human encounter, Yalom (2009) detailed the "givens" of existence.

 
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