Existential Psychology and Orthodox Psychotherapy
There has been much discussion in recent years about the importance of the Orthodox Tradition, and many people, in their search for the truth, are studying the Fathers of the Church. Many contemporary psychotherapists, even though they are not Orthodox, are impressed by the neptic theology of the Orthodox Tradition.
Existential Psychology and Orthodox Psychotherapy, one of the ‘Orthodox Psychotherapy’ series, looks in detail at the theory of a contemporary school of psychology called ‘logotherapy’. Victor Frankl, who developed this theory, aimed, by using this method of therapy, to inspire a sense of meaning into life and to give each person strength and the will to live, and to help him overcome his problems. Even in the most difficult situation which someone might be going through, Victor Frankl would tell us, he could give meaning to his life and even to his death. Thus he offered optimism, and helped people to make sense of their lives.
As we study Orthodox neptic theology we discover that its value lies in that fact that it is not interested in simply offering health, but also salvation. It regards the subject of thoughts as extremely important, and believes that illness is not merely physical or psychological, but mainly existential. Continuous struggle and watchfulness are necessary to ensure that thoughts remain in the realm of reason and do not take hold of the heart.
The Church’s hesychastic and therapeutic method does not simply give someone a sense of meaning, but also makes it possible for him to acquire spiritual health and inner spiritual fullness, and offers a higher purpose, deification, which is man’s communion and union with God. Pain, afflictions and all problems, even death, are overcome by the experience of spiritual delight, and man’s life is given another dimension.