Loganholme psychology professional, Dr Amanda White, explains the theory behind logotherapy and how it may be utilised in modern psychological practice.
The therapeutic canvas transformed remarkably over the course of the twentieth century, and it continues to grow here in the twenty-first.
At the core of psychotherapeutic process is the aim of transitioning to greater psychological wellbeing.
Different and novel treatment modalities can draw our attention, indeed there are now many brush strokes on this therapeutic canvas, but there remains both benefit and inspiration in the classic approaches. Given the emphasis on wellbeing and psychological fitness, the third Viennese School termed logotherapy is a classic approach well worth exploring and integrating into modern practice.
The Founder of Logotherapy
Logotherapy was the work of Dr Victor Frankl, a professor of psychiatry and philosophy (University of Vienna), as well as a World War II holocaust survivor. This seminal experience of being imprisoned in a concentration camp challenged Dr Frankl to re-frame life’s driving purpose as a search for meaning, in line with the philosopher Kierkegaard.
Indeed, Dr Frankl translated the Greek word “logos” to apply beyond the religious definition of “Will” or “Word” to reflect just this – meaning – with logotherapy then being therapy through which we find meaning.
Logotherapy is existential analysis. The central tool is socratic dialogue. It investigates the positive psychological functioning and resources for psychological healing no matter our circumstances, rather than being focused on psychopathology. Resources such as affluence, materialistic or hedonistic principles are potential barriers in the search for meaning.
Assumptions in Logotherapy
The following assumptions form the basis of analysis:
- Life has meaning in all circumstances, even the most miserable.
- Our main motivation in living is our will to find meaning in life.
- We each have the freedom to find meaning in our acts, experiences, or at least meaning in the stand taken, should we be faced with unchangeable suffering.
Dr Frankl emphasised creative self expression, the diversity of experience, and conscious/chosen attitudes to circumstances as the meaning triangle. Developing these three points signal the road to finding meaning in the moments of our life. Finding ultimate meaning, Truth with a capital T, is an over-arching and perhaps unattainable goal, that may be described perhaps through science or religion.
Essentially, logotherapy finds that we are not asking life the questions, like a child asking why, but instead it is our lives which question us.
Being conscious of and responding to the moments in our lives, being in line with our values and conscience, responsible decision making, and living the consequences of our choices are ways in which we may answer to life. Meaning is a process of discovery.
There are a range of issues that have been successfully treated through logotherapy. These are not limited to anxiety and depressive symptoms. If you would like further information or to experience how logotherapy could affect your life, contact M1 Psychology to book an appointment.
Author: Dr Amanda White, PhD, B Psych (Hons), B Beh Sc, DipH, MAPS.
Amanda is not currently taking bookings, however, we have a number of clinicians available for bookings.
To make an appointment please visit our webpage here to learn about our highly qualified clinicians, or call M1 Psychology Loganholme on (07) 3067 9129.
- Frankl, V. (2006). Man’s Search for Meaning. An Introduction to Logotherapy. Boston: Beacon Press.
- Frankl, V. (2011). The Unheard Cry for Meaning: Psychotherapy and Humanism. New York: Simon and Schuster.
- Frankl, V. (2004). On the Theory and Therapy of Mental Disorders. AN Introduction to Logotherapy and Existential Analysis. New York: Brunner Routledge.
- Pytell, T. (2006). Transcending the angel beast: Viktor Frankl and humanistic psychology. Psychoanalytic Psychology, 23(3), 490-503.
- Pytell, T. (2007). Extreme experience, psychological insight, and holocaust perception: Reflections on Bettelheim and Frankl. Psychoanalytic Psychology, 24(4), 641-657.