III. Crises Intervention: delving into the human spirit
It is not uncommon that people will come to the pastoral counselor in times of immediate crises looking for intervention. In the throes of such immediate crises, the counselee perceives life through the lenses of the situation at hand. It becomes imperative, therapeutically, to assist the counselee in recognizing that the immediate crisis and its consequences are not who they are as persons. This requires tapping into the noögenic dimension, the will-to-meaning. The necessary healing begins at this point, which is known as self-distancing. Dr. Graber states: “Self-distancing is utilized to get clients to view themselves from the outside; to become observers of themselves and their situation or circumstance.”[i] The process of self-distancing assists in breaking down the hyper-attention being given to the immediate crises by the counselee, and allows the counselee to begin seeing the situation apart from the post-traumatic consequences.
The second process implemented in pastoral trauma intervention is attitudinal modification. The therapist’s ability to aid the counselee in redirecting their attitude by changing the focus from the egocentric self to the movement beyond self is pertinent in order for progress to occur. A healthy attitude has positive consequences; an unhealthy attitude has negative consequences. One’s attitude is a determining factor as to how the unavoidable is accepted.[ii] This cannot occur on the part of the therapist through persuasion. It is the counselee's decision to choose his/her attitude at any given moment, even in the midst of unavoidable suffering.[iii] It is only at this point that the “will to meaning”, the noögenic dimension, can be tapped: “When the defiant power of the human spirit is activated…this promotes the will to meaning and modulates attitudes toward the positive.”[iv]
Utilizing the self-distancing technique and resulting in attitudinal modification aids the trauma intervention by reducing the control of symptoms and enables the process of meaning-centeredness. The Socratic method is the third method used in assisting the counselee to see that the reduction of symptoms demonstrates the counselee's ability to decide to discover new meaning through the defiant human spirit – raising the noöetic unconscious to the conscious level. After the existential analysis occurs, the therapist can aid the counselee in taking responsibility and acting in responsibleness through the fourth process by establishing creative activity/encounter with others as an orientation toward meaning goals. Dr. Graber writes: “Direction needs to be found that will lead to a more fulfilling and meaning centered future.”[v] The role of the logotherapist serves as a medium of healing in the journey with the counselee toward psycho-spiritual integration. In the final analysis “compassionate concern exhibited by the caregiver is like a healing balm.”[vi]