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Existential Psychotherapy

Existential Psychotherapy

Existential psychotherapy is a therapy that is focused on human existence and the impact of being human in a world that is essentially without intrinsic meaning and subject to random and unpredictable occurrences.


A key element of existential psychotherapy involves showing individuals how their choices affect their lives and giving them the tools they need, to feel able to make good decisions. Thus enabling a sense of agency and fulfillment in creating their desired path in life.

Existential psychotherapy based on the belief that we are defined by the choices we make, and as such, we are response”able”, in creating our own personal happiness and wellbeing.

It is founded upon the tenets of existential philosophy, which originated in 19th century Europe and was espoused by philosophers such as Nietzsche, Sartre, and Kierkegaard.


The “Givens” of Existence

This type of therapy is based on the belief that the following life experiences are inevitable and inherent to human existence:

  • Responsibility – we are responsible for the lives we live
  • Guilt – when we do not take actions that are in tune with our authentic self we are left with feelings of “existential guilt”
  • Uncertainty – life by its nature is inherently uncertain
  • Freedom & Choice – We have the freedom as individuals (in adulthood) to choose how we respond to life
  • Anxiety – anxiety is inherent when we accept our response”ability” in adult life however it can be harnessed for our growth
  • The meaninglessness of life – i.e. it has no meaning except the meaning we give it
  • Death – awareness of our mortality
  • Aloneness – the isolation that comes with being solitary beings

Existential psychotherapy helps people explore these givens of existence and embrace their own personal freedom to make choices in adult life.


Who Is Existential Psychotherapy For?

Although existential psychotherapy can help people with specific mental issues such as depression and anxiety, it is also useful for people who are simply seeking meaning in life or wish to form their own personal ideology.

It can be particularly helpful for:

  • Addiction
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Difficulty in making good life choices
  • Finding a deeper meaning to life
  • Addressing significant change or self-adversity
  • Building self-awareness
  • People who have a terminal illness and want to come to terms with their mortality

Like most forms of therapy, existential psychotherapy is most successful when the client is a willing participant who has a strong desire to change and is open to the idea of an honest self-evaluation.


How Does Existential Psychotherapy Help?

Although this type of therapy recognises the role that past experiences play on one’s current state, it does not focus on a person’s past. Instead, it mostly looks at the present choices that a person faces. It aims to free people from restrictive thoughts, accept their autonomy in life, and find assertiveness.

An existential psychotherapist helps people deal with the concerns that underlie their anxieties, conflicts, and motives. This kind of therapist can help people find personally meaningful answers to serious life questions such as:

  • What am I doing here?
  • Why does suffering exist?
  • What is the point/purpose of my life?
  • Am I alone in this world or am I part of something bigger than myself?

The relationship between the therapist and client might be more interpersonal than it is in other types of therapies, but it is still structured and supportive. Challenging enquiry may be used to help clients see how their choices and actions influence their present state.


What Are the Benefits of Existential Psychotherapy?

  • It can help you embrace the power available in the freedom and choice present in adult life
  • It can help you lead a richer and more meaningful life.
  • It can help you find personal meaning.
  • It can help you live life in the present.
  • It can help you come to terms with suffering and death.
  • It can help you feel empowered by your response”ability” to make good decisions.


Existential Psychotherapy at KlearMinds

At KlearMinds our existential psychotherapists are also trained in a range of other psychotherapies and we integrate these into the work to offer you a broader experience and toolkit, than may be provided through an existential approach alone.

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