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An Individualized Counseling Theory: Combining Existential Theory with Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy to Create a Personalized Counseling Theory

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An Individualized Counseling Theory: Combining Existential Theory with

Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy to Create a Personalized Counseling Theory

Abstract

The purpose of counseling is to meet the client's needs and to help them reach their personal goals while allowing them to gain personal insight into their lives on their own. Every client has different needs, different beliefs, different values and different goals. Why should the method of counseling be the same for every client when their needs are so different? This article attempts to explain an individualistic counseling theory that combines Existential theory and Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) to allow counselors to form the theory/method around the client's individual needs. "Existential therapy has been defined as a dynamic approach to therapy which focuses on concerns that are rooted in the individual's existence" (Jones & Butman, 1991, p. 278). While Existential theory addresses the most common core issues of life, Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy addresses the irrational thinking that is linked with the struggle from these common core issues. The most common struggles come from trying to understand existence. Greif, loss, depression, addictions, anxiety, stress and the list could go on of behaviors and dysfunctional thinking that can result from trying to understand death, creation, purpose, meaning, and etc. This individualized theory is consistent with a Christian worldview because this theory addresses deep issues that Christians are daily concerned with and allow Christians to discover their place in God's kingdom all the while abiding by scripture to help guide them.

An Individualized Counseling Theory: Combining Existential Theory with

Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy to Create a Personalized Counseling Theory

By using the framework and foundation of Existential theory and the methods of Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy (REBT) it will create an individualized counseling technique that can be integrated with any client. The Existential theory (ET) lays a foundation that is universal for all clients while the REBT addresses the cognitive thought processes and behaviors that are related to clients that struggle with understanding this innate foundation.

"An existential framework indicates that people have a special relationship with others that is not characteristic of their relationship with objects. This relationship provides personal grounding in the social world that enables confident action in an uncertain world. An existential perspective suggests that actions involving other people necessarily entail ethical implications, and stresses the importance of guilt and will in moral development" (Vandenberg, 1991, p.1278). For Christians, this identifies with John 13:34, "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another" (New International Version). In similar regards REBT "holds that cognitions, emotions, and behaviors are practically never pure or disparate but integrally and holistically interact with and include each other. Although it is highly philosophical, RET recognizes that feelings and behaviors have an important influence on beliefs, that beliefs affect feelings and behaviors, and that feelings affect beliefs and behaviors" (Ellis, 1993, p.199). By adapting to this individualized theory of counseling it allows any counselor to formulate goals and treatment plans no matter what culture, religion, or race the client might be.

Philosophical Assumptions and Key Concepts

With joining two different types of therapy and methods there are bound to be differences. Although there are differences, there are also many likenesses between Existentialism and REBT which, work together to benefit the client. Their philosophical assumptions and key concepts parallel to benefit the client in a positive way.

"The basic philosophy of ET theorists is that humans are free, responsible for their own lives, and have the potential for self-actualization" (Murdock, 2009, p. 183). According to the American Dictionary self-actualization is "the achievement of one's full potential through creativity, independence, spontaneity, and a grasp of the real world".

The founder of REBT, Albert Ellis, "has denied that RET authoritatively or rigidly prescribes a particular set of values for every client. Ellis asserts that we have the freedom to pursue rational or irrational ways of thinking. Though people seem to have innate tendencies to behave and think irrationally, we have the freedom to choose rationality" (Jones & Butman, 1991, p.175).

Both philosophies can be compared to the way Christian worldview addresses "free will". Romans 11:17 states "And if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them, and with them became a partaker of the root and fatness of the olive tree, 18 do not boast against the branches. But if you do boast, [remember] [that] you do not support the root, but the root supports you. 19 You will say then, "Branches were broken off that I might be grafted in." 20 Well [said]. Because of unbelief they were broken off, and you stand by faith" (New International Version). In Christianity we are given the opportunity to choose right or wrong and we then deal with the consequences of our actions.

Model of Personality

There is something that all people have in common and that is their existence. Although we all may have different ideas of how this came about we all have the same inquiries about our "being". "The respect for persons and their unique experiences of being in the world are the distinctive emphases of an existential model of personality. We are all in a continual, ongoing process of becoming, according to existential theorists, trying to discover and make sense if our existence" (Jones & Butman, 1991, p. 285).

"RET does not have a comprehensive theory of personality per se, but focuses more on a view of emotional

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