Meaning Therapy

Meaning therapy is a pluralistic approach to counselling and therapy that focuses on the fundamental human needs for meaning and relationship. It is a comprehensive way to address all aspects of meaning in life concerns in a supportive therapeutic relationship. Thus, the motto for meaning therapy is, “Meaning is all we have; relationship is all we need.” Meaning therapy assumes that when these two essential human needs are met, individuals are more likely to cope better with their predicaments and live a more rewarding life. When there is deficiency in these two areas, people will more likely experience difficulties in life.

Meaning therapy favours a psycho-educational approach that recognizes the vital role of meaning and purpose in healing and well-being. It appeals to the client’s sense of responsibility to make full use of their freedom to pursue what really matters and what constitutes a rewarding future. Within this conceptual framework, the therapist provides a safe and trusting environment that facilitates collaborative effort and shared decision making in terms of preferred interventions, plans, and goals.

Integrative meaning therapy: From logotherapy to existential positive interventions

Wong, P. T. P. (2016). Integrative meaning therapy: From logotherapy to existential positive interventions. In P. Russo-Netzer, S. E. Schulenberg, & A. Batthyány (Eds.). Clinical perspectives on meaning: Positive and existential psychotherapy (pp. 323-342). New York, NY: Springer.

This chapter first argues the need for second wave positive psychology (PP2.0), which is informed by Frankl’s logotherapy as well as existential psychology. The main thesis of PP2.0 is that in order to attain healing and authentic happiness, one needs to confront the dark side of human existence and pursue self-transcendence—going beyond oneself to serve something greater. The chapter then introduces integrative meaning therapy and its existential positive interventions, representing the applications of PP2.0. The main contributions of this chapter are that it brings out the positive aspects of existential therapy and adds a new dimension of existential concerns to positive psychology as usual.

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Meaning therapy: Assessments and interventions

Wong, P. T. P. (2015). Meaning therapy: Assessments and interventions. Existential Analysis, 26(1), 154-167.

This paper introduces meaning therapy (MT) as a recent extension of Viktor Frankl’s logotherapy with several important new features, such as being integrative, empirical, and positive. With meaning as a holistic, central construct, MT is inherently integrative. With its emphasis on contemporary meaning research, MT has firm empirical support. With respect to its positive orientation, MT distinguishes itself from most existential therapies by virtue of its focus on meaning-seeking and meaning-making as a positive value for a worthwhile life. This paper also introduces several instruments and meaning-based interventions developed by Wong.

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Meaning therapy: An integrative and positive existential psychology

Wong, P. T. P. (2010). Meaning therapy: An integrative and positive existential psychology. Journal of Contemporary Psychotherapy, 40(2), 85-99.

Meaning Therapy, also known as meaning-centered counseling and therapy, is an integrative, positive existential approach to counseling and psychotherapy. Originated from logotherapy, Meaning Therapy employs personal meaning as its central organizing construct and assimilates various schools of psychotherapy to achieve its therapeutic goal. Meaning Therapy focuses on the positive psychology of making life worth living in spite of sufferings and limitations. It advocates a psycho-educational approach to equip clients with the tools to navigate the inevitable negatives in human existence and create a preferred future. The paper first introduces the defining characteristics and assumptions of Meaning Therapy. It then briefly describes the conceptual frameworks and the major intervention strategies. In view of Meaning Therapy’s open, flexible and integrative approach, it can be adopted either as a comprehensive method in its own right or as an adjunct to any system of psychotherapy.

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Meaning Therapy Q & A