Existential psychotherapy and uncertainty: A workshop with Professor Ernesto Spinelli in Stockport on Friday 17th March 2017
09:30 – 16:00
In November 2013 Professor Ernesto Spinelli ran a seminar for Mindsite on his approach to existential psychotherapy. On Friday 17th March 2017, he will return to provide further insights. In this seminar he will address the topical question of working therapeutically with uncertainty.
Current issues such as global instability, climate change, and Brexit lead to increased levels of anxiety and confusion. These highlight the degree to which uncertainly permeates our lives. At the same time pundits and experts constantly remind us that ‘we are in an entirely novel set of circumstances’. As a result, ‘We can assume nothing and cannot rely on past solutions.’ All of this leads to significant unease and confusion.
Existential psychotherapy and uncertainly
Among contemporary psychotherapeutic models, existential psychotherapy emphasises the inevitability of uncertainty. Within its foundational stance of relatedness there is no single point of focus. “I” can never fully determine, with complete and final certainty: what and how the world will be; how others will be; or even how “I” will be at any time.
The inevitability of uncertainty, and the openness of existence it proclaims, alert us to certain things. Notably, that prior knowledge, values, assumptions and beliefs regarding self, others and the world are untrustworthy. And they may be “opened” to challenge, reconsideration or dissolution at any time. Paradoxically, existential psychology argues that uncertainty remains a constant given of human experience, not just an occasional and temporary consequence of unusual circumstances.
If existential psychotherapy is correct in this, what might it tell us about the practical aspects of working with uncertainty as therapists and counsellors?
The workshop will address this issue. It will consider how to draw out and work with the (often) implicit fears and concerns regarding the uncertainty experienced by both therapists and clients. And it will look at how their constructive possibilities may be enhanced and incorporated into the therapeutic encounter.
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