Definition Of Logotherapy: History, Principles, Techniques And More

The speech therapy is a psychotherapeutic approach decades developed by Viktor Frankl with the idea that humans are more motivated by the search for meaning, indicating that the meaning of life is the biggest question in our minds and the greatest factor stress on our psyche.

What is logotherapy?

It is defined as a type of psychotherapy that believes that lack of meaning causes mental health problems, so it tries to help people find meaning to help solve their problems.

It is a philosophical approach to psychiatry that suggests that all life has meaning, even in the face of great suffering, no matter what we are going through, there is a meaning that we can find in our life.

It is also closely related to existential analysis, which can be understood as the philosophical and scientific basis of logotherapy, as well as an essential part of a theory proper. For these purposes, existential analysis refers to the analysis of one’s existence, which naturally flows into the question of meaning.

Origins of Logotherapy

Logotherapy was first developed in the 1940s and 1950s by Viktor Emil Frankl (1905-1997), who was a psychiatrist and neurologist from Vienna, Austria. He was interested in the importance of life’s purpose in people’s mental health.

Frankl had the unfortunate opportunity to test his theories on himself; As a Jew, he was captured by the Nazis in the early 1940s and sent to a concentration camp.

As he later explained, it was his persistence in holding on to his own purpose or continuing the life’s work that he had been forced to leave behind that strengthened him and helped him survive the horrors of the Holocaust.

Logotherapy became known as the “third school of psychotherapy” and offers an alternative to the so-called “first” and “second” schools, these are Sigmund Freud, who founded psychoanalysis , and Alfred Adler, whose theories revolved around the concept of “Feeling of inferiority.”

Two of the most prominent techniques used in Frankl’s type of therapy are paradoxical intention and dereflection. The paradoxical intention aims to break the vicious cycle of anticipatory anxiety , in which we are so anxious about something that we feel anxious to worry about our source of worry.

Frankl suggested that one way to allow someone to distance themselves from this vicious cycle is, as unintuitive as it may sound, exposure to the source of their anxiety .

Dereflection attempts to interrupt another vicious cycle: that of being so obsessed with something we want to achieve that we put ourselves through higher levels of stress, making it less likely that we will achieve that goal.

In this case, Frankl advises simply taking a break to stop striving to achieve that goal and allow ourselves to reach a sense of detachment, to move away from the excessive pressure we have imposed on ourselves.

What are the basic principles of speech therapy?

Frankl’s concept is based on the premise that an individual’s main motivational force is finding meaning in life, as mentioned above. The following principles represent the basics of logotherapy:

  • Life has meaning in all circumstances, even the most miserable.
  • Our main motivation for living is our will to find meaning in life.
  • We are free to find meaning in what we do, and in what we experience, or at least in the posture we take when faced with a situation of unchanging suffering.

Constructs of purpose and meaning in life appeared in Frankl’s logotherapy writings in relation to existential emptiness and the will to meaning, as well as others who have theorized and defined positive psychological functioning, Frankl observed that it can be psychologically harmful when a person’s search for meaning is blocked.

The purpose and meaning of positive living were associated with strong religious beliefs, group membership, dedication to a cause, life values, and clear goals. Theories of maturity and development for adults include purpose in the concept of life. Maturity emphasizes a clear understanding of purpose, direction, and intentionality, which contributes to the feeling that life is meaningful.

Methods of finding the meaning

Going one step further, logotherapy proposes that meaning in life can be discovered in three different ways:

  • When creating a job or writing.
  • By experiencing something or meeting someone.
  • Because of the attitude we take towards inevitable suffering.

An example that is often given to explain the basic principles of logotherapy is the story of Frankl’s meeting with an elderly general practitioner who was struggling to overcome depression after the loss of his wife, Frankl helped the elderly man see that his purpose had been to save his wife the pain of losing him first.

Speech Therapy Techniques

The three main techniques are:


Used when a person is too absorbed in a topic or in achieving a goal, it helps someone to turn away from himself and towards other people, so that he can become whole and spend less time absorbed in himself about a problem or how to reach a goal.

The paradoxical intention

It is a technique that makes the patient want what they fear the most.For people who experience anxiety or phobias , fear can paralyze them but by using humor and ridicule, they can wish for what they fear most, thus eliminating the fear of their intention and alleviating the anxiety symptoms associated with it.

Socratic dialogue

It would be used in speech therapy as a tool to help the patient through the process of self-discovery through their own words. In this way, the therapist would point out word patterns and help the client to see the meaning in them, it is believed that this process helps the client to realize a response that is waiting to be discovered.

It is easy to see how some of the speech therapy techniques overlap with newer forms of treatment, such as cognitive behavioral therapy or acceptance and commitment therapy. Thus, speech therapy can be a complementary approach to these thought- based behaviors and treatments .

Basic assumptions of logotherapy

It consists of six basic assumptions that overlap with the fundamental constructs and ways of looking for meaning listed above:

Body, mind and spirit

The human being is an entity consisting of a body (soma), mind (psyche) and spirit. Frankl argued that we have body and mind, but spirit is what we are, or our essence, note that Frankl’s theory is not based on religion or theology, but often parallels these.

Life has meaning in all circumstances

Frankl believed that life has meaning in all circumstances, even the most miserable, this means that even when situations seem objectively dire, there is a higher level of order that implies meaning.

Humans have a will to mean

Logotherapy proposes that humans have a will to meaning, which means that meaning is our main motivation to live and act, and allows us to endure pain and suffering. This looks different from the will to achieve power and pleasure.

Freedom to find the meaning

Frankl argues that, in any circumstance, people are free to access that will to find meaning, this is based on their experiences of pain and suffering and the choice of their attitude in a situation that cannot change.

Meaning of the moment

The fifth assumption argues that for decisions to be meaningful, people must respond to the demands of everyday life in ways that match the values ​​of society or their own conscience.

People are unique

Frankl believed that each individual is unique and irreplaceable.

Logotherapy in everyday life

How could you apply the principles of speech therapy to improve your everyday life?

  • Create something. As Frankl suggested, creating something (for example, art) gives you a sense of purpose, which can add meaning to your life.
  • Develop relationships. The supportive nature of spending time with others will help you develop a greater sense of meaning in your life.
  • Finding purpose in pain. If you are going through something bad, try to find a purpose in it, even if this is a bit of mental deception, it will help you move on. For example, if a family member is undergoing medical treatments for an illness, view your purpose as being there to support that person.
  • Understand that life is not fair.  Life can always have meaning, even in the worst situations.
  • Freedom to find meaning. Remember that you are always free to make sense of your life situation, no one can take that away from you.
  • Focus on others. Try to focus to overcome the feeling of stagnation in a situation.
  • Accept the worst. When you go out looking for the worst, it reduces the power it has over you.
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Hello, how are you? My name is Georgia Tarrant, and I am a clinical psychologist. In everyday life, professional obligations seem to predominate over our personal life. It's as if work takes up more and more of the time we'd love to devote to our love life, our family, or even a moment of leisure.