Client skill-set: Introduction

Frankl classified values into three categories: a) creative, b) experiential and c) attitudinal, which can be explained as a) those unique tasks that are ours to do, b) actively receiving life’s gifts in the form of loving another person or appreciating life’s beauty and wonders and c) choosing not to fight what is beyond our control but instead have an accepting attitude towards it.

If we go through all of the therapist skills mentioned in yesterday’s post we will notice that we’re looking to help the person locate and actualize his values. We encourage him or her to ask: What is the meaning of the situation? There is a value the situation is offering; life is calling and waiting for the person to fulfill it. If we can hear reality speaking to the person, this is the “what is meant” in Frankl’s definition of meaning.

If we now want to consider the skills that are needed in order to fulfill these values, the answer will be the powers of the human spirit.

Some examples of the powers of the human spirit are the defiant power, humor, awareness of one’s uniqueness and self-worth, responsibility, self-transcendence, dedication to a cause, autonomous decisions (intentionality), appreciation for art and music, commitment to tasks, faith, belief in the unconditional meaning of life, hope, optimism, awareness of mortality, love, self-detachment, ability to laugh at one’s self, conscience (religious and ethical sensitivity) and more.

These human qualities are accessed in the process of value-clarification and also ensue as a result of value-clarification. These are the strengths and capacities with which the person has awareness and activates his self to fulfill the three categories of values (the three paths to meaning).

Thus in any framework such as a workshop where we are not doing therapy but giving people tools by which they can discover meaning these are the qualities or powers that we want to access, mobilize, activate and develop.

It could sound from this as if logotherapy is in the business of moral education. It’s not. The difference is that the goal of moral education is to emulate God because this is our obligation whereas in logotherapy the goal is healing. Becoming an exemplary human being just so happens to be the pleasant side-effect. This is actually not accidental because what heals us also builds us.

But that was just an aside. To get to the work, we need to operationalize this. We need to understand the process of how a person accesses, mobilizes, activates and develops the defiant power, humor, hope or any number of other qualities. The “how” of how to develop these powers is then what we can call a “skill.”

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