As a person who has long been fascinated by different cultures and their unique, creative legacies, I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to spend more than ten years of my adult life living and travelling in more than seventy countries. I have been able to learn to speak two foreign languages (Spanish and Chinese). My work as a psychotherapist is very much informed by these experiences. For example, for my doctoral dissertation, I used Dr. Ludwig Binswanger’s (founder of Existential Psychology) theoretical construct to analyze the public mural arts projects of the great Mexican artist Diego Rivera. I was fascinated by Rivera’s lifelong project to help the Mexican people overcome the psychological trauma of suffering conquest and colonization. His art, extolling the greatness and grandeur of pre-Columbian Mexican civilization, has played a seminal role in forming modern Mexico’s national identity. With Existential Psychology in mind, as a therapist who practices from that perspective, the focus is on the here and now. An Existentialist believes that whatever has happened in the past manifests itself in present thoughts, feelings, and actions. Four key relationships are the focus of this approach. First is one’s relationship with the natural world.
The client is encouraged to become more in touch and in tune with nature. Second is one’s relationship with the social milieu. In other words one’s relationship with family, friends, and community, one’s “tribe” so to speak. Third is relationship to self or self-awareness. In this context helping client’s find their muse is important. For what else does one create with but the energy and emotions coursing through one’s deepest self? The final key relationship that an existentialist encourages is one’s relationship to a higher power, in other words, one’s spiritual beliefs. As an existential therapist I find that when these four key relationships are rich and healthy, my clients are usually emotionally well-adjusted and living a life full of meaning and purpose.