Existential therapy

Members of NEG have published the following articles on existential  psychotherapy:

Barker, M. (2011). De Beauvoir, Bridget Jones’ Pants and Vaginismus. Existential Analysis, 22 (2), 203-216.

This paper considers the relevance of de Beauvoir’s work for clients with ‘vaginismus’. Focusing on women’s relationships to their bodies, partners, and being-for-others more widely, it links de Beauvoir’s theories to more recent research, and to a key case study. The importance of therapist awareness of shifting gender roles is highlighted.

Barker, M. (2011). Existential sex therapy. Sexual and Relationship Therapy, 26 (1), 33–47.

This paper considers what existential psychotherapy has to offer the ever-expanding field of sex therapy. First it considers the critical stance that existential psychotherapy takes towards diagnosis and categorisation, explaining why it is important for sex therapists to engage critically with notions of ‘sexual dysfunction’, and suggesting ways in which we might work with clients around the losses and gains of various labels. Following this, existential therapy is briefly outlined and applied to sexual issues, drawing particularly on the work of Peggy Kleinplatz and Irving Yalom, as well as the author’s own client work. Three aspects of existential therapy are explored in depth: The focus on client’s lived experience, the multiple meanings they may have around sex, and the importance of considering the various dimensions of existence. Throughout this latter half of the paper examples will be given where sex therapists worked with existential themes (including how to live a meaningful life, how to relate to others, mortality and the freedom to choose).

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