Existential therapy looks to explore difficulties from a philosophical point of view, focusing on the human condition holistically, highlighting our capacities, and encouraging us to take responsibility for our successes.
A key part of existential therapy is that it doesn’t emphasize past events. It takes past events into account, but it uses them as insight, allowing them to become a tool for freedom and assertiveness. Realising that you are not defined by your history and not determined to have a certain future can be a real breakthrough in existential therapy.
A belief that lies at the heart of existential counselling is that even though humans are essentially alone in the world, they long to be connected with others. This belief can help to explain why certain concerns appear and may help the individual understand why they feel the way they do sometimes.
Another interesting theory is that inner conflict stems from an individual’s confrontation with the givens of existence, also known as ‘the ultimate concerns’. These givens were noted by influential psychotherapist Irvin D. Yalom, and include:
- freedom and responsibility
- existential isolation
One of the primary aims of existential therapy is to help you face the anxieties of life and to embrace the freedom of choice that humans have. Existential therapists help individuals to live more authentically and to be less concerned with superficiality, to take ownership and responsibility for their own lives, to find meaning, and to live more fully in the present moment.
Existential therapy is helpful for those interested in self-examination and deepening their self-awareness. It is also well suited to those who are facing issues of existence, such as those who are living with a terminal illness, those contemplating suicide, and those going through life transitions.