The next conference presentation I attended was by Dr. Paul McQuillan titled Befriending the Human Spirit: the Need for A Logotherapeutic Approach to Counseling in Australia.
He spoke about the need to understand the culture and mind-set of the Australian people in order to plan how to implement a program of logotherapy there.
He looked at the statistics of young people’s beliefs about the human spirit in comparison to other countries in the world. A third of the young people are saying ” I don’t know if there is a spirit.” The attitude taken is: ” I’ll be happy when…” – pinning their happiness on something having to happen, which is different from saying I am present now in this moment.
This being the case we need to understand how people engage with the spiritual dimension.
What is the relational consciousness? In other words we need to check: What is people’s awareness of relationship to self, to others, to nature and to the cosmos? In one small example a child was looking at ants on the sidewalk and said: “I wonder if they know I am here?” He was thinking in relational terms.
Dr. McQuillan found that the atmosphere is very scientific and people don’t readily engage with spirit. As soon as a problem comes up, then they talk about the human spirit.
Most studies in psychology are with cognitive-behavioral therapy. It’s measurable. Thus the profession of psychology is saying that’s the preferred method. Cognitive behavioral therapy is true but it’s not the whole story. Right now they don’t have what will go beyond that.
Spirit is the personal story. It’s future-oriented.
Looking to the past background of the country, the early inhabitants in Australia were prisoners. They were urbanized. Most people today cling to the coast.
Logotherapy has to be presented differently in Australia. Instead of talking about body, mind, spirit it has to be body, mind, and then spirit is the essence. He brought up the cultural aspect of aboriginal spirituality and the phenomenon of Anzac day at Gallipoli as sources of deep consciousness of the spirit and of connection. These would be avenues of connecting people to the idea of spirit in logotherapy.
In addition it has to be distance learning because it’s a huge country.
In conclusion logotherapy can be introduced by asking how they experience these ideas in their culture and making abstract concepts real to them. Aside from it being a very engaging presentation it made me realize the importance of this approach in every place we work to not just understand the individual but to understand the overarching culture and mood of the country we are working in.