Irvin Yalom Existential Model

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Chapter One: Irvin Yalom & his Existential model of therapy
1.1 Biographical Background
Irvin D.Yalom psychiatrist, psychotherapist and bibliotherapist and a major influence in Jewish existentialism, was born in Washington D.C in 1931, the only child of Jewish parents, who left Russia shortly after World War I. His parents were not well educated and worked long hours in their grocery store, to survive financially. Their neighbourhood was poor and unsafe and so Yalom sought solace in books. His relationship was his father was close, “And Sunday mornings were mellow times, etched clearly in my mind. Usually I played chess with my father" (Yalom, 2001, p. 303) but his relationship with his mother was ambivalent, "never, not once, do I remember
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He works from an “interpersonal frame of reference” (Yalom, 2001 p. xvi) and tends to work with the terminally ill, bereaved and addiction clients.
Interpersonal interaction within the group is vital to effect change and the therapist’s role is to facilitate that experience in the here and now. By members feeling a sense of belonging, hope, safety and awareness they are not alone in their issues, provides a solid foundation. Interpersonal interaction within the group enables members to release previously repressed emotions promoting healing, and the sharing of information can help educate and empower a sense of value by helping others. Members can learn coping strategies from others and interpersonal teaching can help them to develop supportive interpersonal relationships and interpersonal skills, such as empathy and tolerance. The discussion of existential factors within the group helps promote awareness and acceptance and understanding of how to live with them. (Yalom & Leszcz,
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The harsh realities of the industrial revolution created a climate of fear and anxiety about the human condition, which made many people more receptive to existential ideas. The birth of the existential movement took place following World Wars I and II and influential philosophers such as Kierkegaard, Nietzsche and Sartre, who were in conflict with the predominant ideologies of their time, were committed to exploring and understanding human experience. Existentialism has three main branches; Christian existentialism represented by Kierkegaard, Jaspers, Marcel and May; aethestic existentialism represented by Sartre, Camus and Nietzsche and Jewish existentialism represented by Buber, Yalom and Frankl. (Professor M.L.O Rourke Handout October 2016). The Humanistic version of existential therapy predominantly thrived in America, through the work of Yalom (Van Durzen,
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