3 Types Of Existential Anxiety Psychotherapy

Existential anxiety is a condition that relates to excessive worry about abstract concepts such as mortality and searching for the meaning of life. Discussed below are 3 existential anxiety psychotherapy methods and a bit of history about each.

Multi-Modal Therapy - Multi-modal therapy is a type of psychotherapy developed by the South African psychologist Arnold Lazarus in response to what he viewed as a disturbingly high relapse rate among anxiety disorder sufferers being treated with traditional Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) methods. Multimodal therapy is based around the acronym BASIC ID, which stands for Behavior, Affect, Sensation, Imagery, Cognition, Interpersonal (relationships), and Drugs, though the latter aspect includes all biological factors related to brain chemistry. It advocates eclecticism in treating patients, drawing treatments from a variety of different traditions and approaches.

Multimodal therapy takes great pains to tailor itself to the needs of the individual client, meaning that it is unsuitable for use in an anxiety group therapy setting. It can sometimes include treatments from outside what as traditionally thought of as anxiety psychotherapy, such as diet and exercise regimes where an unhealthy lifestyle is thought to be a contributing factor in the patient's psychological disorders.

Logotherapy - Logotherapy was the work of Viennese neurologist Victor Frankl. It is sometimes referred to as the "third Viennese school", following the schools of Sigmund Freud and Alfred Adler. Where Freud focused on the "will to pleasure" and Adler on the "will to power", Frankl concentrated on what he termed the "will to meaning". His thesis was based on the notion that humankind has an ingrained desire to see order in the cosmos, and that psychological disorders are based upon the perception of cosmic disorder.

Frankl was a Holocaust survivor, and his thought was strongly influenced by his experiences in a Nazi concentration camp. In the prologue of his book Man's Search for Meaning, he described how his suffering drew him to the conclusion that life has meaning even in the most appalling circumstances, and how his work came to reflect that.

In Logotherapy, treating anxiety is based around Socratic dialogue and self-observation. The treatment does not seek to attain a painless existence, rather it sees suffering as an opportunity to find meaning. Meaning can be found through achieving a quest, through experiencing love in any of its myriad forms, or simply coming to terms with suffering and accepting it as an inevitable part of life.

Rational-Emotive Behavior Therapy - Rational-Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) was developed by Albert Ellis. It draws from the work of Asian and Classical philosophers and is based on the assumption that the human psyche contains both rational and irrational components which are often in conflict with each other. Anxiety is often caused by irrational thoughts that lead to self-destructive behaviors. REBT seeks to educate the patient and empower them to lead happier, more fulfilling lives by replacing irrational thoughts with rational ones.

If you suffer from existential anxiety, consult your doctor to see if anxiety psychotherapy may be a good treatment option for you.

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