Special Education ETDs

Publication Date

Summer 7-13-1973


The purpose of this study was to describe experi­ential awareness as an existential approach to psychotherapy with adolescents in groups. Integrated within the study were the critical issues of the nature and behavior of the therapist in the psychotherapeutic encounter with adoles­cents. Review of the literature on adolescent psychology pertinent to the practice of adolescent psychotherapy sug­gested that when adolescents experience "identity crisis," peer group therapy is appropriate. The major propositions, assumptions, and applications of experiential awareness therapy relevant to adolescent therapy groups were examined. The use of therapist journal notes was presented to illus­trate the therapist's experience in the group process with three adolescent groups.

Experiential awareness was used in the therapy groups to enable the young people to become more fully aware of present behaviors and responses, cognizant of future possibilities, and further discovery of choice­ making capacity that leads to meaningful and constructive living. These goals of growth and self-actualization were stimulated by use of the following methodology: 1) awareness; 2) encounter; 3) experimentation; and 4) cognition.

Implications drawn from the journal notes indi­cated that use of the experiential awareness approach demon­strates that: (1) Critical to the growth of adolescents in group therapy is an adult therapist who is fully and authentically involved; (2) The therapist stimulates peer interaction by using a variety of experiential techniques; (3) Trust is established when the therapist is seen as a model for relationships that are honest; (4) The peer group offers necessary support in the early sessions, and later becomes a source of important feedback; (5) Relevant issues, particularly those focusing on significant relationships, are introduced by all participants; and (6) A wide range of feelings and emotions are accepted.

Recommendations for utilizing the experiential awareness approach to therapy in future studies were made and suggestions for expanding the available technology for use with adolescents in private practice were presented.

Document Type


Degree Name

Special Education

Level of Degree


Department Name

Special Education

First Committee Member (Chair)

William Robert Fishburn

Second Committee Member

Clifford Abe

Third Committee Member

Marian Newman Works

Fourth Committee Member

Sidney Rosenblum