What is existential therapy?

Existential therapy is a humanistic therapy centred on the philosophy of existentialism. It advocates the idea that life has no solid meaning, thus it is up to the individual client to define their own existence and be responsible for their own happiness and actions. This type of therapy hopes to directly confront the conflict which arises within the client about the question of meaning or purpose, through exploring personal values, hopes and contradictions of what it is to be human. 

Existential therapy is unusual in that it does not place emphasis on past events like some other therapy types. Existential therapists do take the past into consideration, but do not lay blame there, using the insights gained for the present and future, where the client is encouraged to view their own actions without thinking about destiny or fate. By accepting that their existence is coincidental, the client may live in the present moment and overcome their anxieties, viewing life as moments in which they are fundamentally free to make their own decisions.

Who benefits from existential therapy? 

Individuals who are interested in seeking the meaning of life rather than seeing therapy as a means of solving their problems  are more likely to benefit from existential therapy. It could also appeal to clients who are facing serious illness or struggling with a transition in their lives or personal relationships.  

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Last updated on September 2 2015