Existential Therapy: Everything You Need to Know

Existential therapy often focuses on you rather than the symptom and emphasizes free choice, self-determination, and the quest for meaning. The strategy strongly emphasizes your ability to make wise decisions and reach your full potential.

When to Use It

What other issues might existential therapy address? According to the existential perspective, psychological issues—like drug abuse—are caused by a limited capacity to make genuine, significant, and self-directed decisions about how to live. Interventions often seek to improve a person’s sense of self and understanding. Excessive anxiety, apathy, alienation, nihilism, avoidance, shame, addiction, despair, sadness, guilt, fury, hatred, resentment, embitterment, purposelessness, psychosis, and violence are just a few of the symptoms that existential psychotherapists attempt to understand and treat. Relationships, love, care, commitment, bravery, creativity, power, will, presence, spirituality, individuation, self-actualization, authenticity, acceptance, transcendence, and awe are other life-enriching experiences that are emphasized.

What to Expect

What to anticipate from a therapy session is listed below. Although existential psychotherapies use various techniques, their central themes center on your freedom and responsibility. By choosing to think and behave appropriately and facing unfavorable internal ideas rather than outside factors like luck or social pressure, therapists assist you in finding purpose amid worry. Developing your creativity, love, honesty, and free will are systematic ways to aid the transition. Like existential therapists approach the treatment of addiction disorders, they teach you to confront the anxiety that tempts you to consume drugs and help you accept responsibility. The objective is to teach you how to live more consciously, drawing on your creativity and love instead of allowing random occurrences to dictate how you act.

What It Does

Due to its emphasis on life and purpose, this technique might sometimes come out as pessimistic, although it aims to be a constructive and adaptable approach. According to 20th-century philosopher Paul Tillich, existential psychotherapy at its finest tackles life’s “fundamental issues,” such as loneliness, sorrow, and meaninglessness. Irvin Yalom, a modern existential psychotherapist, claims that although specific worries are based on each person’s experience, the universal ones are death, solitude, freedom, and emptiness. Existential therapy focuses on the discomfort that arises when you deal with these inherent conflicts, and the therapist’s job is to promote individual decision-making responsibility. For instance, Yalom sees the therapist as a “fellow traveler” in life, and he employs empathy and support to generate awareness and choices. Additionally, he claims that group therapy’s relational context is a successful strategy since individuals live in the company of others. How I can live in the face of uncertainty, conflict, or death is the central topic addressed in this kind of treatment.

Qualities of a Good Existential Therapist

Existential therapists frequently have training in philosophy in addition to mental health. State-by-state licensing requirements differ, although many existential therapists have doctorate degrees in psychology or counseling, for instance. Additionally, they finish more supervised fieldwork in existential therapy.

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