Phenomenological Reviews

Series | Book | Chapter


Formulations of intentionality

Ian R Owen

pp. 193-211


This chapter uses the idea of intentionality to argue for formulation of the development and maintenance of specific syndromes of meaningful distress. This is the worth of intentionality in mental health care, qualitative human studies and natural psychological sciences. This application of intentionality is for understanding multifactorial causes of distress in the context of considering how its conditions of meaning and motivation can be rectified through the ego working on how it construes its world and itself in it. This chapter answers the problem of how to understand the experiences and motivations of clients in a general way. A case of how to help someone who is suicidally depressed is used to bring out key problems that occur when therapists meet clients for the first time in assessment. Such meetings are against the backgrounds of greater unknowns such as multiple interpretative professional views, for there is much information available but little agreement about what helps people with any specific set of problems. The answers provided are that it is most value-free and pragmatic to understand meaning-maintenance in terms of intentionality and its repeating processes (whatever their causes might be biopsychosocially). Below the basic problems of how to practice any brand of therapy or mental health care are answered by creating understanding through applying the universals of intentionality to their current lifestyle. Formulation is discussed as a gateway from distress to better awareness and reflection on self, so beginning improved self-care. Such a discussion also identifies people who are pre-contemplative in as yet being unready to make changes in their lifestyles or may have difficulty in understanding the connections between their own thoughts, feelings, behaviours, relationships, habits and beliefs. Therapy is not a panacea and some people are unable to use what it offers for a variety of reasons.

Publication details

Published in:

Owen Ian R (2015) Phenomenology in action in psychotherapy: on pure psychology and its applications in psychotherapy and mental health care. Dordrecht, Springer.

Pages: 193-211

DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-13605-9_10

Full citation:

Owen Ian R (2015) Formulations of intentionality, In: Phenomenology in action in psychotherapy, Dordrecht, Springer, 193–211.