Positive Living Newsletter

From Humanistic Horizons to Logotherapeutic Aspirations: A Counselling Odyssey of Meaning and Transformation

Juster Donal Sinaga, M.Ed.

My journey in the realm of guidance and counselling commenced in 2002 when I embarked on a bachelor’s degree at Sanata Dharma University, Indonesia. Throughout my undergraduate studies, I immersed myself in various psychological theories but it was humanistic psychology that captured my attention and eventually became the guiding light in my academic and personal pursuits.

Humanistic psychology wasn’t merely an academic interest–it evolved into a philosophy that I integrated into every facet of my life. I didn’t just study it: I lived it, transforming my life into one that is more positive and meaningful. Armed with a degree in educational guidance and counselling, I ventured into training and counselling. The delivery of my training materials and the dynamics of these sessions reflected the spirit of humanistic and positive psychology that I had come to embrace. This commitment to embodying psychological principles, both personally and professionally, defined my journey. Post-graduation, I transitioned into the corporate world, working as a human resource officer at a private company based in Jakarta.

In 2010, I decided to further my education, pursuing a master’s degree in guidance and counselling at the University of Education Indonesia. My studies focussed on humanistic psychology, applying it not only in curative sessions but also in preventive counselling. I completed my master’s degree two years later, culminating in a thesis: “Personal-Social Guidance Program Based on Experiential Learning to Improve the Humanistic Character of Junior High School Students.” Amidst challenges, I persevered and secured a role as a lecturer at my cherished alma mater, Sanata Dharma University. In 2012, I joined the faculty. From that point forward, my journey led me into humanistic psychology, including existential and positive psychology. As my hunger for knowledge grew, I explored creative counselling, shaping my research endeavours on transformative themes.

In the last five years, my interest in existential and positive psychology has only strengthened. Logotherapy, a therapeutic approach exploring the search for meaning, has become a primary focus. I envision becoming an expert in logotherapy and am currently in the early stages of planning my doctoral studies. Furthermore, I am drawn to Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and contemplate integrating this therapy into my counselling sessions. My personal philosophy, influenced by existential analysis, has helped me find meaning in every aspect of my life—be it family, career, or social relationships. I believe that awareness of one’s existence leads to a profound sense of purpose, surpassing mere happiness. Life’s meaning, for me, lies in taking responsibility not only for oneself but also in giving to others. As a member of the International Network on Personal Meaning (INPM), I seek not only to learn more about logotherapy but also to understand the therapy of meaning from experts with diverse cultural backgrounds. For me, the continuous quest for meaning, while sharing insights with others, places an individual on a different level of life’s significance.

Through my life’s journey and the pursuit of meaning, I aim to be a beacon–illuminating the realms of psychology and personal growth. My commitment to integrating various therapeutic approaches reflects my dedication to holistic well-being, hopefully inspiring those whose path I cross. In my current pursuit of a Ph.D. at Universiti Putra Malaysia, I am immersed in a research endeavour that has long been a dream of mine: the effectiveness of integrative existential-CBT on meaning inlLife and well-being among adolescent survivors of sexual violence. Each step in this research–every moment of struggle–is a valuable episode shaping the landscape of my life. This experience goes beyond the acquisition of new knowledge–it is a journey of self-transcendence. In this process, I’ve discovered more than just scientific facts; I’ve found strength in resilience, an unshakeable spirit, and a deepening sense of meaning etched into my being.

Although my journey is not yet concluded, the focus remains on maintaining personal meaning. I believe that nurturing meaning in every moment of life is key to moving forward with purpose. We don’t merely live to accumulate knowledge but to continually grow as individuals capable of impacting the lives of others. In every challenge and achievement, I realize that life is not just a series of events but a meaningful journey. And just as every research has an unfinished story, so do our lives. The meaning we cultivate today is an investment for a more meaningful life in the future.

Juster Donal Sinaga, M.Ed