Everything you need to know about Victor Frankl’s Logotherapy
Have you ever felt sad thinking about the pointlessness in living life? Or that nothing you ever do makes you happy? If you have… well, maybe, you have touched upon a spiritual question. And Logotherapy is one such counselling therapy that helps answer the question.
So… what is Logotherapy? Basically, it is a therapy which focuses on living with a purpose in life. According to its theory, finding meaning or passion in life can solve all issues of unhappiness, anxiety, stress, and depression. In fact, the clients are encouraged to dive deep into these spiritual questions.
Named after the Greek word- “logos” meaning plan, the logotherapy is derived from Existential therapy. Similar to Logotherapy, Existential therapy deals with sparking questions about your identity and of course- existentialism- the reason for being alive. Though the mechanisms of both therapies are quite different yet the origins of both are the same. Here we are interested in Logotherapy here.
The Story Behind Logotherapy
A little backstory about Viktor Frankl
An Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist, Viktor Frankl was taken to a holocaust during the 1940s with his family. He was brutally tortured in the camp. His whole family was murdered in front of him. But something kept him going. He found a yearning purpose to live- to share his holocaust experience to the world.
And with that- he found the meaning in his life- a greater good. This realization of him finding a purpose came to him when he was writing the experiences after being released from the camp. The meaningfulness of his life radiated a hope- to continue whatever the cost be. So he considers himself as the first patient to be treated by Logotherapy.
And fun fact- he wrote the first draft of the book (later became “Man’s search for meaning”) in record 9 days. That reflected the amount of burning passion in him.
Logotherapy has ideas borrowed from both Humanistic psychology and Existentialism. It’s worthy to mention logotherapy explores the spiritual dimension of life. This form of therapy can help with various underlying issues quickly and effectively.
The third Viennese school of psychology preaches that-
- Everyone has a purpose to fulfil in their lifetime.
- To find a sense of contentment, one need to find meaning in life.
- People have the power to choose how they feel towards a situation.
To sum it up, the basic principles of Logotherapy are 3 fold- Freedom of Will, Will to Meaning and Meaning in Life.
How to find meaning in life?
Finding purpose and meaning in life can be a subjective and unique experience for each one of us. Some find it easily but others struggle for years to decipher it. But logotherapy explains that finding it is the key to happiness.
Here are some ideas which can be the starting point for finding that purpose in your life.
- Serving a greater good for the society in general
- Working on something that helps others socially
- Building a relation that enriches both the lives positively
When you find that purpose in either of the given ways or beyond, you will automatically find the enthusiasm to wake up every morning with a jolt. If you want to learn more ways to find your passion, you can read a very spectacular book called ‘Ikigai’ by Héctor García and Francesc Miralles. Ikigai is a Japanese term for purpose and passion.
Techniques used in Logotherapy
Though Logotherapy is based on finding meaning in life, since it is a therapy used on clients, it is more than just preaching and principles. Logotherapy uses techniques which are as below-
One of the main aspects of Logotherapy is dereflection. The approach is not to focus on clients’ problems and miseries- but to focus on helping others.
Finding their own capabilities to help and serve others gives a huge meaning to life according to logotherapy. And it also helps to achieve selflessness and to practice gratitude.
Paradoxical intention believes that we should not take everything in life seriously. Coming to think of it- doing just that can actually reduce a lot of stress in our daily lives.
We start seeing worst-case scenarios and feel tensed when faced with obstacles. In such moments of anxiety and stress, it is encouraged to add in humour and comedy at the face of problems. The motive is to have fun while dealing with stressful situations.
Yes, we cannot remove problems of life but we can lessen it’s effects on us.
A technique based on cognitive behavioural therapy(CBT), the Socratic dialogue is a questionnaire method to dive deep into the emotional and situational problems of the clients.
It helps to analyse and understand the reasons why clients use certain words and what meaning it holds for them. It further brainstorms on the emotional context of their experiences. Through the process, the client becomes aware of the negative actions and emotions that are affecting them.
Blending Logotherapy with CBT
In modern times, where passion and success are almost treated as synonyms, we must understand CBT techniques are quite different from logotherapy based on their principles and ideologies. However, modern psychologists and counsellors are blending them both. The duo is showing the much-improved result on their clients than their individual counterparts.
Having said that, one needs to understand that Logotherapy is not about finding the purpose for clients but to help them find their own purpose. Logotherapist just acts as a guide for their client and not an instructor.
The Benefits of Logotherapy
Some key benefits a client can enjoy while taking up logotherapy are-
- A better society enriched with spirituality- encourage clients to think of their actions and consequences.
- Finding meaning in life and working towards fulfilling it- is a liberating process.
- One starts taking responsibility for their own actions and behaviours.
Any therapy which stands the test of time can be defined as useful. Those therapies which didn’t help people became non-existent. Logotherapy is a part of the former. It has been widely observed and practised across many nations today. Logotherapy institutes are the testimony of its success and popularity.
- “Viktor Frankl | Biography, Books, Theory, & Facts | Britannica.” Encyclopædia Britannica, 2019
- Frankl, V. E. (1984). Man’s search for meaning
- Devoe, D. (2012). Viktor Frankl’s logotherapy: The search for purpose and meaning. Inquiries Journal
- Viktor Frankl Institute of Logotherapy