This is Paul T. P. Wong’s preconference workshop abstract for the upcoming 11th Biennial International Meaning Conference.
The prolonged disruption of life caused by the pandemic and mandatory lockdowns has severely tested the human capacity to adapt. While some people have responded well with resilience, many others have succumbed to various mental illnesses, such as suicide, addiction, depression, and PTSD, often due to unresolved existential crises of meaninglessness and loneliness.
The purpose of this workshop is to introduce Integrative Meaning Therapy (IMT) as a trauma-informed and meaning-focused approach based on integrating Viktor Frankl’s logotherapy with CBT, narrative therapy, and positive psychotherapy. This integrative existential approach flows naturally from Wong’s decades of meaning research and clinical practice (Wong, 2012, 2020).
Wong’s solution to the current mental health crisis is to get back to the fundamental needs of human nature. Paradoxically, our mad pursuits of personal happiness and success not only fails to prepare us for the horrors of the pandemic, but also contributes to our inner emptiness, loneliness, and the existential anxieties of a living a wasted and useless life.
Contrary to the popular belief that we should avoid painful emotions, such experiential avoidance actually makes us more vulnerable to life’s problems and contributes to mental illness. A promising antidote based on research and clinical evidence is to return to the basic human need for faith, love, and hope for a meaningful life; the positive triad which has empowered human beings to survive and flourish since antiquity in spite of adversities.
At this workshop, Wong will explain how to restore mental health and human dignity by using paradoxical intervention strategies, such as tragic optimism, three bad things, embracing your worse fears, endurance training, and self-transcendence. He will use case studies and demonstrations to illustrate the practice of IMT.
- The defining characteristics of IMT
- The need for IMT, especially in difficulty times
- Paradoxical intervention strategies
- Case studies
- Wong P. T. P. (Ed.). (2012). The human quest for meaning: Theories, research, and applications (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Routledge.
- Wong, P. T. P. (2020). Existential Positive Psychology and Integrative Meaning Therapy. International Review of Psychiatry. DOI: 10.1080/09540261.2020.1814703