22 Jan 2015 |  for counsellors | by Bill, writer at UK & Ireland Counsellor Directory

"Human existence is not authentic unless it is lived in terms of self-transcendence."
- Viktor Frankl, The Will to Meaning

Ernest Becker (The Denial of Death, Simon & Schuster Inc, 1985, p 269-276) writes about the limits of psychotherapy, in that opening one’s eyes to existential realities can not only result in greater feelings of wholeness and joy, but can also leave one with a greater awareness of the problematic nature of the realities of their situation.  

This reinforces the deep responsibility that is placed on the psychotherapist, not to undermine the client’s defence mechanisms without first making sure that they have developed the psychological strength to deal with the realities that would be laid bare in the process.  

However, an awareness of existential concerns, and the transitory aspects of one's own existence, can be tempered by working with issues of self-transcendence, which highlights the importance of the transpersonal in counselling .

"There are dimensions of your being and a potential for realization and consciousness that are not included in your concept of yourself. Your life is much deeper and broader than you conceive it to be here. What you are living is but a fractional inkling of what is really within you, what gives you life, breadth, and depth." -  Joseph Campbell

Self transcendence involves the identification with something larger than self. This can be in relationship to a significant other, family, tribe, nation, or religion. In self-transcendence, there is a sense of sacrifice of self to something bigger, whether this is in a small way, through giving time, effort, support, or in a big way, such as in taking religious orders.

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