Existential Theory Critique
In general, I really appreciate the concepts embraced by the existential theory. Man's freedom to choose, his ability to act, and his subsequent responsibility for the results of his choices and actions are important concepts to me. Irresponsibility as a base human response is traceable back to Adam and Eve when Eve blamed the serpent and Adam blamed Eve - though each had made the choice to eat the forbidden fruit. God laid the consequences squarely at Adam's feet when he pronounced with his judgment, "because you have done this" (Genesis 3:17).
At the same time, it may be that existential therapy takes responsibility a bit too far. There are times when men are not free and suffer the consequences of someone else's choices - such as prisoners of war (consider Auschwitz among others) or victims of violent crime. Additionally, sometimes natural occurrences take our choices from us, such as the widow grieving for the husband she lost to a long battle with cancer or the teenager paralyzed by an accident (such as Joni Erikson-Tada). The client suffering from these kinds of pain would not be likely to experience healing from existential theory based therapy.
I also deeply appreciate the high value this theory places on the therapist/client relationship and the idea that the therapeutic process is one in which therapist and client embark on a journey of self-discovery together. Respect and mutual faith play crucial roles in this relationship and lay the foundation for openly assessing life choices in ways the client may not have considered before. I believe it is also true that a truly involved therapist will learn and grow both personally and professionally as a result of each client relationship they experience.
Corey, G. (2009). Theory and practice of counseling and psychotherapy. (8th ed.). USA: Thomson Brooks/Cole.
Hinkley, P. (n.d.). Existential therapy presentation. Retrieved July 7, 2009 from http://www.liberty.edu/media/1413/COUN510/Existential_Therapy/index.html.