Counselling, Psychotherapy and Clinical Psychology264

More about Existential Therapy

Existential therapy is a unique form of psychotherapy that looks to explore difficulties from a philosophical perspective, rather than taking a technique-based approach. Focusing on the human condition as a whole, existential therapy applauds human capacities and encourages individuals to take responsibility for their successes.  Put simply, it is more about the deeper meaning of life.

Emotional and psychological difficulties are viewed as 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.

A key element of existential counselling is that it does not place emphasis on past events like some other therapy types. The approach does take the past into consideration, and through retrospection the therapist and individual can understand the implications of past events. 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 during this type of therapy.

Practitioners of existential therapy say that its role is to help facilitate an individual's own encounter with themselves and to work alongside them as they explore values, assumptions and ideals. An existential therapist will look to avoid imposing their own judgements and instead help the individual elucidate and elaborate on their own perspective.

One of the primary aims of existential therapy is to help people face the anxieties of life head on and to embrace the freedom of choice humans have, taking full responsibility for these choices as they do so. Existential therapists look to help individuals live more authentically and to be less concerned with superficiality. They also encourage clients to take ownership of their lives, to find meaning and to live fully in the present.

Individuals who are interested in self examination and who view their concerns as issues of living rather than symptoms of a psychiatric illness are more likely to benefit from this approach to counselling. Existential therapy is also well suited to those facing issues of existence, for example those with a terminal illness, those contemplating suicide, or even those going through a transition in their life.