Moral Dilemmas and Existential Issues Encountered Both in Psychotherapy and Philosophical Counseling Practices

Beatrice A. Popescu

Abstract


This paper stems from clinical observations and empirical data collected in the therapy room over six years. It investigates the relationship between psychotherapy and philosophical counseling, proposing an integrative model of counseling. During cognitive behavior therapy sessions with clients who turn to therapy in order to solve their clinical issues, the author noticed that behind most of the invalidating symptoms classified by the DSM-5 as depression, anxiety, hypochondriac and phobic complaints, usually lies a lack of existential meaning or existential scope and clients are also tormented by moral dilemmas. Following the anamnestic interview and the psychological evaluation, rarely the depression or anxiety diagnosed on Axis I is purely just a sum of invalidating symptoms, which may disappear if treated symptomatically. When applying the Sentence Completion Test, an 80 items test of psychodynamic origin and high-face validity, most of the clients report an entire plethora of conscious or unconscious motivations, distorted cognitions or irrational thinking but also grave existential themes such as scope or meaning of life, professional identity, fear of death, solitude and loneliness, freedom of choice and liberty. Same issues are approached in the philosophical counseling practice, but no systematic research has been done yet in the field. Future research and investigation is needed in order to assess the importance of moral dilemmas and existential issues in both practices.

Keywords


cognitive behavioral therapy; philosophical counseling; moral dilemmas; existential issues; meaning of life

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https://doi.org/10.5964/ejop.v11i3.1010

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