When working with multicultural clients, existential concepts provide therapists with varied approaches. Gerald Corey in THOERY AND PRACTICE OF COUNSELING AND PSYCHOTHERAPY highlights: “Existential counseling is probably the most useful approach to helping clients of all cultures find meaning and harmony in their lives because it focuses on the serious issues each of us must inevitably face: love, anxiety, suffering, and death.”
FOCUS OF EXISTENTIAL THERAPY
When a therapist works with a multicultural client, the therapist is urged to keep in mind C.E. Vontress’ opine from “A Personal Retrospective on Cross-cultural Counseling,” all people are multicultural based upon the fact that we are all products of many cultures.
Accordingly, Corey identifies: existential therapists use the concepts and main tasks of therapy to assist clients in recognizing they’re not fully present in the therapy process itself. Based on this notion, existential therapists support clients in confronting the anxieties they have so long sought to avoid.
Existential therapists continue to assist clients by helping each person redefine themselves and their world in ways that foster greater genuineness of contact with life. The focus continues to remain on the clients’ current life situations, and not on helping clients recover past personal issues.
STRENGTHS OF THE EXISTENTIAL APPROACH
The strengths of the existential approach to multicultural counseling consist of the methods enabling clients to scrutinize the degree to which their behavior is being manipulated by cultural and social conditioning. Corey points out: clients can be challenged to evaluate the price they are paying for past decisions.
Clients may not always feel a sense of freedom, but with the existential approach, the clients’ freedom can be increased because they begin to recognize the social limits they are facing. Existential therapist, Corey reminds, assist the client who is struggling with feeling limited by his/her situation by requesting that the client look at his/her part within the process.
The strengths of the existential approach to multicultural counseling, enables clients to assess their behavior, their limits, and their part within a broader context.
WEAKNESSES TO THE EXISTENTIAL APPROACH
Gerald Corey reminds: the weakness of the existential approach to multicultural counseling, consist of a major criticism that this approach lacks a systematic statement of the principles and practices of psychotherapy.
Many practitioners have difficulty with what they perceive as the mystical language and concepts within existentialistic approach: there is a preference to counseling practices based upon research that is empirically sound, contains definitions that are operational and hypotheses that are testable, and therapeutic practices based on the results of research.
Therefore, because the existential approach does not contain “mystical language,” therapists have vague and global terms, which at times cause confusion. Difficulty may then arise in conducting research on the process or outcomes of existential therapy.
When working with multicultural clients, existential concepts offer various means for therapists to employ. Corey reiterates, Existentialist agree: “Existential counseling is probably the most useful approach to helping clients of all cultures find meaning and harmony in their lives because it focuses on the sober issues each of us must inevitably face: love, anxiety, suffering, and death.”