I meant what I said

Today a client gave me feedback.

She had been debating what to do with her life and felt she wasn’t getting any satisfaction from her work or from anything in her life. She felt her life was meaningless and she had no reason to get up in the morning. She was telling me now that one question I had asked was very powerful for her and brought her to the decision to go back to work. “You’ve done so much to help people.” I had said to her. “Does this mean nothing to you?”

The power of logotherapy is very subtle. It works because it’s real. It’s about real people encountering real people. When I challenge another person it’s because I genuinely believe in him or her. It’s not a technique. If I was speaking those very same words but did not mean what I said it would come across as an expert saying “Tsk, tsk, poor thing, can’t you get it right?”

My words were effective because I spoke from a place of sincerity and a kind of innocent wonderment. I was struck by the gap between her feelings about herself and the good work she had done. I thought to myself: How could the enormous help you have provided not mean something to you?

This thought about by my client’s words to me today jogged my memory about what I wrote about yesterday, namely that Dr. Steven Southwick says to veterans suffering from PTSD: “You are experts.” Why is this statement logotherapeutic? What is the big deal? Can’t anyone say that to them? Could this not be considered a cognitive-behavioral technique?

Yes, but a true logotherapist will think of telling them they are experts because he will see that in them. The process of becoming a logotherapist at heart will bring about a transformation in orientation to life and orientation to people that will allow you to view people in a different light.

Perhaps logotherapists are born and not made, but then the training will match a therapeutic approach to the instinctual one and clothe the instinct with skin and sinews.

Training in logotherapy will teach you to ask Socratic questions. More than that it will evoke the questioner in you.

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