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There can be challenges in life. In existential therapy, you finally find answers to these questions, allowing you to live a life that makes you feel good to live. You can ask yourself, “Who am I? Why am I here? Why do I feel so lonely? Should I be doing something more important?”

Psychotherapy based on existential principles: what is it?

Existential therapy emphasizes free will, self-determination, and meaning-often focusing on the individual rather than on their symptoms. In this approach, a person’s ability to make rational choices and maximize their potential is emphasized. Existential therapy is sometimes seen as an orientation toward therapy rather than a distinct therapy modality. When security and identity seem in danger, this type of therapy can be helpful to patients who experience existential threat or dread.

A central philosophical problem of existential therapy is the nature of being human, as proposed by philosophers Friedrich Nietzsche and Soren Kierkegaard. It was Otto Rank who later applied existentialism to the healing process of therapy, as well as Martin Heidegger, who contributed to existentialism.

Existential philosophy emphasizes the following:

  • It is possible for everyone to become self-aware.
  • Relationships with others provide insight into a person’s unique identity.
  • The meaning of life constantly changes, so people must constantly re-create themselves.
  • We all experience anxiety from time to time.

How and when to use existential therapy

A psychological concern caused by an inability to make authentic, meaningful, and self-directed choices may benefit from existential therapy. A common goal of interventions is to increase self-awareness and self-understanding. A variety of symptoms are understood and alleviated by existential psychotherapists, including excessive anxiety, apathy, alienation, nihilism, avoidance, shame, addiction, despair, depression, guilt, anger, rage, resentment, embitterment, purposelessness, and psychosis. Furthermore, they emphasize life-enhancing experiences such as relationships, love, caring, commitment, courage, creativity, power, will, agency, presence, spirituality, individuation, self-actualization, authenticity, acceptance, transcendence, and awe.

Here’s what to expect in existential therapy

A range of approaches are used in existential psychotherapies, but responsibility and freedom are major themes. Therapy helps you cope with anxiety by choosing to think and act responsibly and facing negative internal thoughts rather than focusing on external factors like social pressures or luck. Creativity, love, authenticity, and free will are common avenues that lead to transformation. Similar to addiction disorders, existential therapists encourage people to accept responsibility for their lives and face the anxiety that abuse may alleviate. Rather than letting outside events dictate one’s behavior, we should make more willful decisions about how we live, drawing on creativity and love.

 

Here’s how existential therapy works

As a result of its focus on existence and purpose, this approach can sometimes seem pessimistic, but it’s meant to be positive and flexible. Philosopher Paul Tillich argues that existential psychotherapy is at its best when it confronts life’s “ultimate concerns,” such as loneliness, suffering, and meaninglessness. There are specific concerns rooted in each individual’s experiences; contemporary existential psychotherapist Irvin Yalom states there are four universal concerns: death, isolation, freedom, and emptiness.

Therapists’ role is to foster personal responsibility so that you are able to manage these inherent conflicts. Existential therapy deals with the anxiety that arises when you confront these inherent conflicts. According to Yalom, the therapist is a “fellow traveler” through life who uses empathy and support to elicit insight and choices. According to him, the relational context of group therapy is an effective approach because people exist in the presence of others. In this kind of therapy, the core question is, “How do I exist in the face of uncertainty, conflict, or death?”

The purpose of existential therapy is to achieve what?

Existential therapy helps you accept what you cannot change by asking philosophical questions about life and death, freedom and responsibility. Using this approach, you can create a life that has meaning for you by making rational, values-based decisions about what you can change. 

Are there any benefits to working with a psychotherapist who specializes in existential therapy? 

  • Become more aware of who you are and what you value
  • Identify the obstacles that are holding you back
  • You have the power to change yourself if you understand this
  • The only thing you can do is accept what cannot be changed 
  • Take a fresh look at things and uncover new perspectives
  • Life’s challenges seem less overwhelming
  • Accept life as it is with greater acceptance 
  • Become more confident in your decision-making abilities
  • Feel a sense of belonging 
  • Connect with others and yourself more deeply
  • You will feel more at ease with yourself and with your life as a whole. 

The Expert Therapy approach to finding meaning and purpose in life

Depending on your needs, we can find therapists who specialize in existential therapy or offer integrative therapy, blending existential tools with other approaches. The existential psychotherapist you choose should have at least ten years of experience working with clients just like you, and will be truly invested in your success.

Existential counselling can help with what?

Issues such as the following can be addressed through the existential approach:

  • Issues related to loneliness, disconnection, and relationships
  • Mood disorders and anxiety
  • An identity crisis or a lack of identity
  • The addiction to food and eating disorders
  • A low sense of self-worth and social anxiety
  • Having trouble moving forward due to lack of focus
  • Neglecting your responsibilities or self-sabotage
  • Death and dying are obsessive thoughts.

Taking better decisions and moving forward

Are you fed up with living a life that keeps taking you further and further away from the person you were meant to be? Do you want to create a life that truly reflects who you are? Use our online booking form or call us now to schedule your first existential counselling session.  

Is existential psychotherapy available near me? 

We offer sessions at Expert Therapy (where our offices are accessible for those with mobility issues). Many of our therapists also offer online therapy. 

 

Related topics

  • What is existential therapy?
  • Is existential therapy the right fit for you?
  • What is an existential crisis, and are you having one?
  • When finding your life purpose isn’t working for you
  • Why is everyone else happy but I can’t be?