Existential therapy is a unique form of psychotherapy that looks to explore difficulties from a philosophical perspective. Focusing on the human condition as a whole, existential therapy highlights our capacities and encourages us to take responsibility for our successes.
Emotional and psychological difficulties are viewed as an inner conflict caused by an individual's confrontation with the givens of existence. Rather than delve into the past, the existential approach looks at the here and now, exploring the human condition as a whole and what it means for an individual.
From its beginnings in the 1920s, the practice of existential therapy has always been closely related to philosophy, and aims to explore how each unique person creates their individual ways of life, what possibilities they can see and which of the choose, how they relate to limits and boundaries imposed by nature or life situations.
Existential Therapy focuses on the anxiety that occurs when a patient confronts the conflict that is an inherent part of life. A therapist can help you to focus on personal responsibility for making decisions, and may integrate humanistic approaches and techniques.
Instead of putting blame on events from the past, however, existential counselling uses them as insight, becoming a tool to promote freedom and assertiveness. Coming to the realisation that you are not defined by your history and that you are not destined to have a certain future is often a breakthrough that offers liberation.
The process of therapy is based on building and continuous exploration of dialogical therapeutic relations which allow insights into reflections of the patient‘s difficulties. The process of existential therapy is focused on the client‘s present, while their past and future are considered an important and integral part of this present.
Existential therapists do not apply any special “existential“ methods or techniques, they only use universal therapeutic skills (listening, questioning, reflection of feelings and content, etc.). It is essential that therapeutic work helps to better “illuminate“ the patient‘s life story or their existence at that moment in life.
History of Existential therapy, Professor Rimantas Kočiūnas, Vilnius University, Director of the Institute of Humanistic and Existential Psychology, Secretary General of the East European Association for Existential Therapy. <https://www.existentialtherapy.eu/history-of-existential-therapy/> (Accessed 24 January 2022)
Existential Therapy. <https://www.counselling-directory.org.uk/existential-therapy.html> (Accessed 24 January 2022)
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