Abstract: Nowadays, Existential thought is considered to be a practical approach among psychologists and counsellors . Nevertheless, what seems to be ignored is paying thoughtful attention to all dimensions of Existential thought which is an essential matter among counsellors and psychologists. Moreover, some issues in Existential thought such as time are disregarded among marital counsellors as well as individual counsellors. The goal of this article is to allocate exhausting existential time to benefit marital counsellors. Findings show that existential time has full potential to be applied for marital counselling. Furthermore, review of the related literature demonstrates that there is not enough experimental and descriptive research to evaluate the effect of existential time on matrimony.
[Seyed Mohammad Kalantarkousheh, Siti Aishah Hassan, Rusnani Abdul. Kadir, Mansor Abu Talib. Sparkle of Existential Time as a Sanctuary in Marital Counselling. Journal of American Science 2011;7(6):690-694]. (ISSN: 1545-1003). http://www.americanscience.org.
Keywords: Existential thought; existential time; marital counselling
Over the years, existential thinkers and existential counsellors have strived to play an indispensable role in matrimony as well as individual life. The existence of potentials and possibilities in this line of thought has benefited, even unconsciously, social workers, psychologists, and counsellors. In fact , what is encouraging for some psychologists and counsellors is to use these existential issues in the form of different kinds of treatments and interventions in Existential thought that can be classified as some human concerns such as responsibility, freedom, meaning of life , living in the world, and trying to become aware of them (Cooper, 2003; Deurzen, 2006; Kalantarkousheh & Hassan, 2010b; Kalantarkousheh, Hassan, Kadir, & Talib, 2011a ; Spinelli, 2007; Steger, 2009; Weixel- Dixon & Strasser, 2005). Existential time seems to have a considerable impact on existential counselling. This article aims to outline and give an account of the function of existential time as a fundamental element in couple counselling as well as individual counselling.
2.1. What is Existential Thought?
Existential thought considered as a philosophy became popular and more well-known in both Europe and the United States after World War II (Kalantarkousheh & Hassan, 2009c; Lantz, 1994c; May, 1967). Even though philosophers are by and large involved in abstract concepts; existential philosophers’ concerns are concrete issues. Indeed, real abilities consist of concrete concepts such as human flexibility, human intentionality, human
freedom, human adaptability, and the ability to respond in a large variety of ways to the essences of life establishing a real attitude toward world and life. These abilities and adaptabilities are known as Existential thought (Cooper, 2003; Kalantarkousheh, et al., 2011a ; Lantz, 1994a; Tillich, 1960). These concepts of Existential thought, emphasizing human abilities and possibilities, separate this attitude from others that depend on a deterministic thought.
2.1. Existential Time
Believing in human abilities, existential philosophers put great emphasis on existential time. Existential time like physical time has a present, past and future which is not distinct from human dimensions. Indeed, a human being, in the course of his life, will achieve or fail; in this sense, time is a reciprocal element from an Existential thought (Strasser & Strasser, 1997; Straus, 1967; Weixel- Dixon & Strasser, 2005). It means that human being, as a temporal individual is constituted by future possibilities and past facilities leading to some limitations and abilities for him or her. Furthermore, from Existential thought, in one time, an individual lives in three times ; “ by memory has brought his past with him into the present and by anticipation and imagination he has already laid hold on his future and projects himself into it’’ (Macquarrie, 1973, p. 156) . From Existential thought, paying close attention to three times in one time is an exceptional human ability. However, a human being, at the extreme end of the scale, may come to now-centered which is the main characteristic of the thing or animal. Existential counsellors following existential philosophers try best to guide others to self-awareness of human conditions, meaning that, past and future are real concepts and we ,as human beings, allow them to live in the present.
2.3. Existential World
Existential time does not have any meaning without existential world. Based on Existential thought, human limitations and human possibilities are under existential world and existential time. Lantz and Gregoire (2003a) following Frankl (1959) believe that existence is manifested or disrupted at the being “of” the world, “in” the world and “for” the world dimensions of existence.
“Being of the world” refers to the fact that the human being has a body and “must” obey the rules of the biological and physical world (Frankl, 1959; Lantz & Gregoire, 2003b). In this dimension, nobody can prevent some matters. By way of exemplification, all family members must die if they are deprived of food, water, or shelter for an extended period of time. There is not any will or choice in such a situation. The past time is also one of the instances of being of the world. Indeed, the past is actualized and formed forever. Nobody can change or deny the reality of what has happened in the past.
The phrase “being in the world” refers to the fact that the human being has some freedoms in his or her existence and “can” make many different choices, and reactions to difficulties and opportunities in life (Lantz & Gregoire, 2003b). Frankl (1984) describes this dimension of existence as the “can”, where individuals have the rewards of “intentionality” and “freedom” in that “can” is used to respond to their limitations and opportunities of life. In reality, the “can” dimension of a human being is related to present time meaning that individuals can increase their quality of life and actualize their potentials of life if they want.
“Being for the world” is a dimension in which human beings answer the call of life. Frankl (1984) refers to this dimension as the “ought” dimension. It means that individuals should listen to the “call of life” to be able to discover what they “ought” to do and find a sense of meaning and purpose in life. Lantz and Gregoire(2003b) believe that when such a sense of meaning and purpose in life is frustrated, disrupted, or ignored, individuals develop a psychological “existential vacuum” that either becomes filled with a developing sense of meaning and purpose or with symptoms such as depression and anxiety.
What is worthwhile to mention is that “being in the world” and “being for the world” are arenas of decision making, freedom and then responsibility.
Moreover,” being in” and “for” the world belong to present and future because only present and future are under decision-making. There is no must or force in present and future so that we as human beings can follow the call of life or reject it. We have choice to refuse or accept present or future matters except for those issues that are related to the past, even though the past is formed by ourselves.
3. Existential Counselling
Existential counselling is an approach originating from the ideas, concepts, and insights found in Existential thought (Frankl, 1988; Kalantarkousheh & Hassan, 2010b; Lantz, 1997; Lantz & Raiz, 2004; May, 1983; Yalom, 1980). Existential counsellors attempt to help individuals to open up their world in a way that they can find their place in the world. Through this goal, individuals can manage their different and difficult situations encountered during their lifetime. Indeed, awareness of their abilities and limitations guides them to find their position in the world and to utilize creativity, their freedom, and responsibility (Frankl, 1988; Kalantarkousheh & Hassan, 2009a; May, 1994; Van Deurzen, 2006; Yalom, 1995). In Existential thought, unlike the others that assume changes in patterns of behaviors and interaction lead to internal experiences, these changes come from internal experience and the discovery of authentic existence (Haldane & McCluskey, 1982; May, 1983).
Something worth mentioning is that the existence of a range of potentials in Existential thought leads to the formation and the establishment of several existential counselling theories during a few past decades. Daseinsanalysis, Logotherapy, American Existential Humanistic theory, and British School of Existential Analysis are all theories based on Existential thought (Cooper, 2003). In a study conducted by Kalantarkousheh and his colleagues (2011a ) , gathered existential issues extracted from the four existential counselling theories and stated that the existential issues can be useful to apply for marital counselling as well as individual counselling.
Descriptive field studies, additionally, accentuate that existential counselling can be considered a useful approach for clients dealing with problems such as chronic illness, migrating issues , assault , rape, and cancer (Frankl, 1988; Kalantarkousheh & Hassan, 2010c; Kang, et al., 2009; Lantz, 1996b; Lantz & Raiz, 2004; Yalom, 1980).
4. The Role of Existential Time in Existential Counselling
‘Time’ has been discussed in different approaches of counselling and psychology.