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Volume 4 (2004), Pages 124-133
Research Article

Quality of Life as Medicine III. A Qualitative Analysis of the Effect of a Five-Day Intervention with Existential Holistic Group Therapy or a Quality of Life Course as a Modern Rite of Passage

1The Quality of Life Research Center, Teglgårdstræde 4-8, DK-1452 Copenhagen K, Denmark
2Vejlby Lokalcenter, Vejlby, Denmark
3Institute of Anthropology, University of Copenhagen, Denmark
4Quality of Life Bookstore, Copenhagen, Denmark
5Norwegian School of Management, Sandvika, Norway
6National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, Office of the Medical Director, Division for Mental Retardation, Ministry of Social Affairs, Jerusalem and Zusman Child Development Center, Division of Pediatrics and Community Health, Ben Gurion University, Beer-Sheva, Israel

Received 18 November 2003; Revised 2 February 2004; Accepted 3 February 2004

Academic Editor: Daniel T. L. Shek

Copyright © 2004 Soren Ventegodt et al.


Existential group therapy seems to be a very efficient way of inducing the holistic state of healing, described in the holistic process theory of healing. We have designed a series of four quality of life (QOL) and health courses of 5-days duration called “Philosophy of Life that Heals – Courses in QOL and Personal Development”. The four courses are meant to be taken over four consecutive years. They contain training in philosophy of life and existential theory as well as exercises in holding: awareness, respect, care, acknowledgment, and acceptance. The courses teach the participants respect, love, and intimacy; help them to draw on their seemingly unlimited hidden resources; and inspire them to take more responsibility for their own life. Exercises are accomplished with a partner chosen at the course as: (1) a person you like, (2) a person you do not know already, or (3) a person to whom you want to give help, support, and holding more than you want to get help from him or her. Pilot studies with 5-day quality of life interventions that combine training in quality of life philosophy with psychotherapy and bodywork have proved effective on patients with chronic pain and alcoholism. The present design aims to take this a step further and engage the patients in a process of personal growth that will last for years. The aim is to lead them to a stabile state of quality of life, health, and ability, from where they will not again fall into sickness and unhappiness. The focus of these courses is as much on prevention as is it on healing. The existential group therapy induces spontaneous healing of body, mind, and soul that seems to be highly efficient with hopefully lasting results. Every course is intended to give an immediate improvement in the quality of life, so its efficiency can be measured with the square curve paradigm. We have studied the participant’s accounts from their experience with the courses and have analyzed the remarkably large, qualitative changes in the state of being, quality of life, health, and consciousness, which many participants experience during the course. The long-term and preventative effects of the courses have yet to be documented.