May (1983) wrote that the most fundamental aspect of therapy is being and that, therefore, the value of the human encounter in therapy far outweighs complex understandings about a person’s psychological makeup or the technical skill of a guru.
He did not mean to diminish the value of insight, but wrote, “The data…learned about the patient may have been accurate and well worth learning. But the point, rather, is that the grasping of the other person occurs on a different level from our knowledge of specific things about him…
“Obviously a knowledge of the drives and mechanisms which are in operation in the other person’s behavior is useful; a familiarity with his patterns of interpersonal relationships is highly relevant; information about his social conditioning, the meaning of particular gestures and symbolic actions is to the point, and so on ad infinitum…
“But all these fall on to a different level when we confront the overarching, most real fact of all-namely, the immediate living person himself (p. 92).”
Frankl (1988) insisted, “One has long ago come to realize that what matters in therapy is not techniques but rather the human relations between doctor and patient, or the personal and existential encounter” (p. 6).
Rogers (1961) reasoned that optimal therapy is constituted by the therapist being able to enter into an intensely personal and subjective relationship with a client “relating not as a scientist to an object of study, not as a physician expecting to diagnose and cure, but as a person to a person” (pp. 184-185).
Being is the centerpiece of the human encounter and that the human encounter is the cornerstone of all therapy. It is true, empathic, authentic, congruent, and open interaction with another in relationship that merits and produces real change in people (Buber, 1955, 1965, 1970; Frankl, 1984, 1988; May, 1983; Rogers, 1961, 1980).
At best, all psychotherapeutic models essentially offer the same kind of help to clients; that is, the help is what ties all psychotherapeutic models together. Apparently, the intricacies and nuances of the multitude of psychological theory means very little to the client’s experience in therapy.
Frankl (1988) wrote, “A purely technological approach to psychotherapy may block its therapeutic effect” (p. 6). If a psychotherapist is lifeless or his technique too technical, his participation in therapy may be worthless. Therapy, in this case, is not relationship at all, but a poor excuse for scientific experimentation.
Miller, Duncan, and Hubble (1997) observed, “When researchers ask clients about the helpful aspects of their experience in therapy, they rarely mention specific…interventions or techniques. Instead they consistently identify the same variables as therapeutic—for example, the importance of ‘being respected, being understood and being cared for’” (p. 23).
The existential psychiatrist M. Scott Peck (1998) took the idea to its logical conclusion: “In short, the essential ingredient of successful deep and meaningful psychotherapy is love” (p. 173).References Buber, M. (1955). Between man and man (Trans. By Smith, R.G.). Boston: Beacon Press. Buber, M. (1965). The knowledge of man: A philosophy of the interhuman. New York: Harper and Row. Buber, M. (1970). I and thou. New York: Charles Scribners. Frankl, V. E. (1984). Man’s search for meaning. New York: Washington Square Press. Frankl, V. E. (1988). The will to meaning: Foundations and applications of logotherapy. New York: Penguin Books. May, R. (1983). The discovery of being. New York: W.W. Norton & Company. Miller, S. D., Duncan, B. L., & Hubble, M. A. (1997). Escape from Babel. New York: W.W. Norton & Company. Peck, M. S. (1998). The road less traveled: A new psychology of love, traditional values and spiritual growth. New York: Touchstone. Rogers, C. R. (1980). A way of being. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company. Rogers, C. R. (1961). On becoming a person: A therapist’s view of psychotherapy. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company
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