The aim of the current research project
Answering our questions about the long-term impact of existential therapy requires us to have the appropriate research tools and measures. We want to gather information about how clients feel and how they assess their lives at the beginning of therapy, and then at intervals thereafter. As a first step, we have created a questionnaire that we hope will be useful for existential therapists and their clients. The questionnaire asks questions about anxiety, depression, spirituality and well-being.
In order to find out if our questionnaire actually is an appropriate and useful tool for capturing the process of existential therapy, we need existential therapists to use it in practice with their clients. Our hope is that clients in existential therapy are willing to fill in the questionnaire, thus providing information and feedback to their therapists that can be of immediate use in improving and deepening the therapeutic process. Hopefully the information from the questionnaire will assist therapists in telling whether they are doing what they should be doing and how well they are doing it, while at the same time giving us an idea of the questionnaires suitability and accuracy as a research tool.
Why this questionnaire is important for existential practitioners
In today’s field of psychotherapy research, quantitative analyses of various kinds such as RCTs are seen as the method of choice for reaching reliable and proven results concerning the effects and outcomes of psychotherapy. There already exists a number of qualitative, primarily phenomenological, studies of the experience and effects of existential psychotherapy, but good quantitative studies are still largely missing in the existential field.
Despite a long history and presence in the field of psychotherapy, the existential approach today still remains relatively unknown. We believe that it is possible to improve this state of affairs. In order for existential therapy to become more visible, recognized and in demand among the public, policy makers and other practitioners and researchers it is necessary for existential therapists and researchers to start making use of quantitative outcome measures and studies to a larger extent than has previously been the case.
If you, as an existential therapist, encourage your clients to take part in this study, you are not only given the opportunity to receive feedback of immediate benefit to you and your practice from your clients, you are also contributing to improving the situation of the community of existential practitioners as a whole. Increased recognition of and demand for the existential therapy is in the end something that will greatly benefit every one of us that practices in the existential vein.
By using a quantitative approach that recognizes the complexity and diversity of client experience and incorporates scales that deal with existential concerns in order to try and capture more long-term effects of existential therapy, we also want to show that it is possible to do good, solid quantitative research while still remaining true to the values and unique vision of existential psychotherapy. In the long term, we also hope that our approach will inspire others to do quantitative research in the existential field and that this in the end will contribute to creating a new research paradigm. A paradigm that uses quantitative methods to fulfil the demands of measurable outcomes while at the same time recognising the complexity and depth of existential issues and the unique challenges to research that they pose.
The questionnaire is equally of benefit to clients as an aid in reflecting on their own therapeutic process, how they are feeling and where they are going as compared to where they were when they started therapy.
Who should fill in the questionnaire?
We welcome anyone who currently is in existential therapy to fill in the questionnaire and we encourage interested therapists to recommend that their clients visit the questionnaire and complete it at various points in their therapy. The questionnaire is equally of benefit to clients as an aid in reflecting on their own therapeutic process, how they are feeling and where they are going as compared to where they were when they started therapy.
You as a client have the choice of either allowing your answers from the questionnaire to be sent to your therapist who then can use it in your work together, or submitting your answers to us for research use only. If you consent to us sending your answers on to your therapist, we request that you identify yourself by your real name and also enter name and e-mail address for your therapist. If you chose to submit your answers for research use only, the data will be used only by the research team. You will remain completely anonymous to us and be identified only by the identifier that you choose for yourself in the questionnaire and that will remain the same for you each time you fill in the questionnaire.