What Is Logotherapy?

By Gabrielle Seunagal |Updated April 5, 2022
CheckedMedically Reviewed By Whitney White, MS. CMHC, NCC., LPC

Logotherapy is a form of treatment in which a therapist helps clients find personal meaning. Viktor Frankl, the creator of this therapy, believed that humans are motivated by the need to find meaning in their lives. Frankl viewed the“will” to find meaning as strong enough to overcome even life’s most serious challenges.

The concept is based on a series of beliefs about both humans and life itself. First and foremost is the assertion that each person possesses a healthy inner core. Another premise of this therapy is that sharing one's inner qualities with others allows those others to discover their healthy inner cores. Finally, it maintains that while fulfillment and happiness are not guaranteed in life, meaning and a sense of purpose are available regardless of circumstances.

Viktor Frankl

Frankl had nearly finished his work on logotherapy when he was arrested by Nazi forces. After his arrest and imprisonment in a concentration camp, this work was lost. Frankl was separated from his wife and other members of his family. As he observed the behavior of those in the camp with him, from the Nazi soldiers to other prisoners, Frankl made some distinctions between those who survived and those who didn't. Following the liberation of the last concentration camp by American forces, Frankl wrote Man's Search for Meaning. This book centered around the discoveries he made during his time in the concentration camp. One of Frankl's most quoted assertions is that those that have a "why" can survive almost any "how."

Finding Life's Meaning With Logotherapy

While logotherapy is all about finding meaning in life, there are several ways one can go about this process. Not every method is helpful to every individual, and logotherapy makes room for the treatment of unique individuals.

Working And Participating In Activities

Working and participating in activities is one way to find meaning. When people immerse themselves in their careers, businesses, families, worship, and other activities, they can find great value. How often have we heard someone say that doing something they love for a living gives them a “sense of purpose?”

When people have jobs, careers, or activities they care about, it gives them something to look forward to and plan their lives around, and it contributes to their growth as an individual. Doing something consistently can be an enlightening experience. It allows people to learn more about themselves and connect with like-minded individuals.

Meaningful Experiences

The idea that certain experiences in life can contribute to finding meaning is a dominant theme in many cultures. Each person is unique because we all have different experiences and come from different origins. It's fair to say that the experiences we have shaped who we are as individuals. This does not mean that people are helpless creatures who are solely at the mercy of circumstance, but our experiences influence who we become.

Logotherapy is based on the belief that these various experiences help us find meaning in life. There have been countless cases in which people have reported feeling inspired as a result of something they experienced or witnessed. This is a testament to the impact that experiences have on the human psyche. Our experiences allow us to find meaning in life because they teach us about ourselves, others, and the world in which we live.

Meaning in Adversity

According to logotherapy, the attitudes that people develop in the face of adversity are another way to find meaning in life.

When faced with adversity, people can either rise above it or crumble. A person who chooses to rise from adversity generally regards the experience as something to learn from, even if it was painful or trying. People with this outlook often see adversity as a growth opportunity. A person who adopts this outlook is likely to learn about life and themselves through adversity.

Not everyone rises above adversity. Some people collapse when faced with challenges, struggles, or tough times in life. The variables that may determine whether someone rises or falls during tough times are innumerable. In logotherapy, adversity is looked to as an opportunity, and the therapist assists the client in reexamining adversity to find the meaning in it and the opportunity for growth.

Common Assumptions Of Logotherapy

As a form of treatment, logotherapy is rooted in a series of assumptions about life and the nature of human beings. These assumptions follow.

Wholeness Of Psyche - Logotherapy is firmly rooted in the assumption that each person has a psyche, meaning the totality of their mind.

Everything Has Meaning - Another assumption of logotherapy is that meaning exists in all circumstances. No matter how good or bad an experience is, there is always something to be learned from it. Logotherapy maintains that finding the meaning in all experiences, both good and bad, can help people grow and discover a sense of purpose in their lives.

Will To Meaning- One of logotherapy's main assumptions is that humans are motivated by the “will to meaning,” and every person can discover their unique purpose in life. This idea connects to the three ways in which the treatment focuses on helping people learn about themselves and the world around them.

Everyone Is Unique - The idea that each human being is unique is another core assumption of logotherapy. Each human being has their own experiences, thoughts, and ideas that contribute to who they are.

Final Thoughts

Logotherapy focuses on both the drive and ability of human beings to create meaning in their lives. Logotherapy has been used to help people who struggle with mental disorders including anxiety, depression, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. In many cases, logotherapy is blended with other forms of treatment to maximize its effectiveness.

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In Support of Logotherapy

Frankl believed that a sense of meaninglessness was associated with the “neurotic triad” of aggression, depression, and addiction. In support of his theory, research studies have found logotherapy useful with drug and alcohol problems, depression, anxiety, psychoses, and the despair associated with incurable illnesses. Logotherapy is also used in areas including rehabilitation, work with developmental disabilities, and family and relationship counseling. Finally, specific logotherapy protocols have been developed for mood disorders, anxiety disorders, and personality disorders. Therapists often use logotherapy in combination with other modalities.

Online Therapy

As discussed above, working with a licensed therapist to find meaning in your life can help with many issues and mental disorders. But psychological symptoms can sometimes make it challenging to attend in-person sessions. This is where online therapy comes in. You can access BetterHelp’s platform from the comfort and privacy of your own home. There’s no need to sit in traffic or take time out of your busy workday to drive to your appointment; you can speak with your licensed therapist from wherever you have an internet connection.BetterHelp’s licensed therapists have helped clients find greater meaning in their lives when experiencing adversity. Read below for some reviews of BetterHelp therapists from people experiencing similar problems.

“Cindy has gotten to the heart of my issues and the here and now. Only my first week with her but I do feel she will be able to help me through the adversity I'm going through”

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