What is existential therapy?
Existential therapy is focused on providing the client with a greater understanding of themselves including self-development, and self-awareness. This therapy works on the individual’s unique set of choices and the meaning behind them, making them know they can’t blame their decisions and the repercussions entirely on past conditioning and/or genetics. This therapy focuses on the foundation in life such:
- Freedom and responsibility
- Universal lack of meaning
How does existential therapy work?
Existential therapy emphasizes your ability to make unique choices and the need to be responsible for the consequences. It tries to provide a sense of meaning to a person’s life and to clarify the right way to make sound choices that are constructive and rewarding. Most people think of the term “existential” as depressing – in that life has no meaning. This is not entirely the premise behind this therapy. In fact, gaining an acceptance that everyone will die, we all have free will, anxiety (and other uncomfortable conditions) are part of life, and we are responsible for our own choices and to create our own life’s meaning can free you up to live in the present and truly appreciate your life. Existential therapy focuses on the present.
Existential therapists are actively involved in your therapy – they do not simply listen and observe, but rather interact and challenge you through discussion as a human being who may also find life challenging in the same way as you– but also has specific knowledge and education regarding how to accept these challenges and to find meaning in your personal life.
When is existential therapy used?
Existential therapy can be used to treat people of all ages for a variety of mental health concerns including:
- Alcohol dependence
- Drug or substance use
- Problem gambling
- Out of control shopping
- Changes in physical health
- Changes in mental health
- Family caregiver stress
- Gender identity issues
- Grief and loss
- Handling chronic illness and pain
- Personality disorders
- Mental health disorders
- Relationship dependence
- Self esteem issues
This type of therapy may be used to treat other conditions and concerns in addition to those listed above. It may also be used in conjunction with other treatment methods. Your therapist will work with you to determine the best treatment method for your individual circumstances.
You should be aware that there is no treatment method that is successful for every person. What works for you, may not work for someone else.
What to expect from therapy
Put simply, you will get out of therapy what you put into it. It’s not a magic solution that will solve all your problems. It may involve you doing some real work and being completely honest with yourself and your therapist. Sometimes facing our truth is the hardest thing of all – but from that discomfort can come healing and growth.