Title: Is it time for existential practitioners to think more critically about how much we are caught up with individualism, pseudoscience, and the language of medicine?
Affiliation: University of Roehampton
implications for practice: The importance of starting with practice and theories having implications and not applications.
implications for research: Questioning some current research approaches in contrast to thoughtful practice
I wish to question: Whether it would be more appropriate to see both our existential practices and research as culturally and politically, rather than ‘evidence’, based. What the danger is of violence arising from both our existential theories and research which may have little to do with truth, justice and thoughtful practice. Whether the notion that we can diagnose and treat as existential practitioners is a fallacy and whether the focus in existentialism on individualism can lead to a narcissistic ego-centrism at the expense of alterity and community.
More generally, I wish to explore such questions as: What helps or hinders an exploration of the most effective expressions of an existentialist’s desire to help? Is it possible to have both justice and action? In examining issues of existentialism as a possible practice of ethics in terms of ideas of truth, justice and responsibility, is there a basis on which we can assist in an embodied way so that we can help others not do violence to others? Indeed is it possible for us as existentialists not to interrupt our own and others’ continuity, not to play roles in which we no longer recognise ourselves and whereby we betray not only our commitments but our own substance?
Del Loewenthal is Professor of Psychotherapy and Counselling and Director of the Research Centre for Therapeutic Education at the University of Roehampton. He is an existential-analytic psychotherapist, photographer, chartered psychologist and Chair of the Universities Psychotherapy and Counselling Association.
Del’s recent books include: Post-existentialism and the psychological therapies: Towards a therapy without foundations (Karnac, 2011), Phototherapy and Therapeutic Photography in a Digital Age (Routledge 2013), Relational Psychotherapy, Psychoanalysis and Counselling: Appraisals and reappraisals (with Andrew Samuels, Routledge, 2014), Critical Psychotherapy, Psychoanalysis and Counselling: Implications for practice (Palgrave Macmillan 2015) and Existential Psychotherapy and Counselling after Postmodernism (Routledge, 2017). Del Is also Founding Editor of the European Journal of psychotherapy and Counselling(Routledge) and has a private practice in Wimbledon and Brighton.