Principles of Wholistic Existential Psychology

1. Wholism is the belief that there is a Unity to our existence which implies that no matter what differentiating constructs we use to grasp the complexities of our lives, all must be understood to exist and function as an interdependent and indivisible whole.

2. Psychology is a process of creating constructs or models of our inner life, or psyche. These constructs can be judged according to how usefully they guide our thinking and action in relation to ourselves and others. As indicated in Principle One above, these differentiating constructs are more likely to be harmful rather than helpful if we lose sight of the ultimate unity upon which they rest.

3. Psychology is most useful in understanding and helping human beings when Existence is the unit of observation and study. Each person creates and constructs his or her own unique Existence out of certain universal elements and in the face of certain universal challenges. These are Death, Powerlessness, Aloneness, Meaninglessness.

4. Human Psychology is most likely to be valid and humane when it assumes the centrality of verbal narrative or story telling as its focus of study and intervention because human reality is constructed from such narratives—which involve every process from conceptual binary distinctions (e.g. life and death, good and bad, self and other) through the realm of “core beliefs” and the stories we tell about our families and our childhoods, and on to formal written memoires and autobiographies.  These stories play a central part in how we create meaning in our lives.

5. What we call Health is created by processes that maintain Balance—between differentiation and unity within ourselves and among the structural aspects of the psyche and among the Existential elements of our lives.

6. Anxiety is the basic process of imbalance that is at the heart of all psychological dysfunction. We create anxiety by narrowing our body and mind in order to avoid painful inner experience. Anxiety takes away our Openness to the possibilities inherent in ourselves and in our world.

7. Psychotherapy is a specially created human relationship and encounter which supports change, growth, and healing by fostering experiences that promote presence, expand awareness and authenticity, and provide corrective emotional events. Psychotherapy invites people to visit their inner world, to give form to what is formless, to give words to what is not verbal, to uncover what is hidden. It invites people to explore their own stories about who they are and how they came to be. It also invites them to rewrite these stories to encompass more of reality and to support expanded realization of individual (and social) potential.