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What Is Existential Therapy?

Jan 25

What is existential therapy? Are you curious about how this type of counseling works? Existential therapy has become increasingly popular and has been used to help individuals work through a variety of mental health issues. In this article, we'll provide an overview of what existential therapy is, the goals of this approach, and how it can be beneficial for individuals.

Existential therapy is a type of psychotherapy based on the idea that the individual is responsible for making choices in life and creating their own meaning. It focuses on helping people understand and accept the realities of their existence and make sense of their experiences. This type of counseling encourages individuals to think deeply about themselves, their values, beliefs, and behaviors in order to gain insight into their lives.

Existential therapy aims to empower individuals by providing them with a framework in which they can better understand themselves and take ownership over their lives. It involves examining feelings such as fear, guilt, anxiety, and despair in order to gain insight into why these feelings exist and how they are impacting one's life. Through this process, individuals can develop deeper self-awareness while also working through any underlying issues that may be causing distress or disruption in their lives.

Definition Of Existential Therapy

Existential therapy is a type of psychotherapy that focuses on helping individuals find meaning in their lives. It emphasizes personal responsibility and encourages individuals to assess their own values and beliefs. Existential therapy explores the human condition, our feelings of isolation, and our search for purpose and meaning.

This form of psychotherapy is based on the idea that, as humans, we all share certain experiences that are inevitable and unavoidable. These include anxiety, death, freedom, choice, guilt, suffering, and alienation. Existential therapists help individuals to examine these issues from an existential perspective in order to identify any underlying fears or anxieties that may be preventing them from living a meaningful life.

The goal of existential therapy is to help individuals make sense of their experiences in order to gain insight into themselves and their relationships with others. Through this process of self-discovery, it’s possible for people to become aware of what matters most to them and how they can construct a life that reflects their core values. Ultimately, existential therapy helps people gain greater clarity about who they are and what they want out of life so they can live more authentically and happily.

By exploring questions such as “What do I value?” “How do I want to spend my time?” “Who am I?” “Why am I here?” existential therapy can provide an avenue for growth and transformation. It offers an opportunity for people to develop a deeper understanding of themselves so they can create a more fulfilling life.

History Of Existential Therapy

Existential therapy has been around since the 1940s, and it is rooted in the philosophies of existentialism. This form of psychotherapy was developed by philosophers such as Jean-Paul Sartre and Martin Heidegger, and they believed that humans had to take responsibility for their own life decisions and not blame outside influences. Existential therapy emerged as a way to help people who are feeling overwhelmed by the freedom and responsibility of making important life decisions.

The core idea behind existential therapy is that humans have the power to make choices about their lives, but this process can be complicated and difficult at times. It is meant to encourage people to take ownership of their lives and leave behind feelings of helplessness or powerlessness. Existential therapy focuses on finding meaning in life experiences and understanding how these experiences shape our beliefs and values.

Rather than trying to fix a problem or change an individual’s behavior, existential therapy emphasizes understanding how a person's thoughts and actions are influenced by external events. It also encourages self-reflection and being mindful of one's thoughts, emotions, relationships, values, beliefs, goals, and purpose in life. Practitioners use a variety of techniques such as mindfulness meditation, journaling, art therapy, talk therapy, role playing, dream interpretation, guided imagery, etc., to help their clients explore their inner world and gain insight into why they think or act certain ways.

Existential therapists strive to create an environment where clients feel safe enough to discuss difficult topics without fear of judgement or criticism. They guide individuals towards greater self-awareness so that they can make decisions for themselves with more confidence and clarity.


Goals Of Existential Therapy

Existential therapy is a type of psychotherapy that focuses on helping people to examine their existence and find meaning in their lives. It has been around since the 1940s, when it was developed by existential psychologists such as Viktor Frankl, Rollo May, and Irvin Yalom. The goals of existential therapy are to help people become more aware of their choices and how they shape the direction of their lives.

The primary goal of existential therapy is to help people gain greater insight into their life circumstances so they can make meaningful changes. This often involves exploring topics such as mortality, freedom, responsibility, and meaninglessness. By examining these concepts from an existential perspective, people can develop a deeper understanding of themselves and their place in the world. They may also be able to identify patterns or behaviors that have been holding them back or preventing them from living a fulfilling life.

Existential therapy encourages its practitioners to question traditional assumptions about the nature of reality and life itself. It emphasizes openness and exploration rather than providing answers or solutions. Through this process, individuals can gain an appreciation for the richness and complexity of human experience which can lead to greater self-awareness and personal growth. Ultimately, existential therapy helps people live more authentically by embracing uncertainty and cultivating resilience in the face of life's challenges.

By developing a better understanding of themselves and their place in the world, individuals can make more intentional decisions about how they want to live out their lives with purposeful intentionality.

Existential Therapist's Role

The role of an existential therapist is to help clients gain insight into the meaning of their lives. It is a collaborative effort, where the therapist and client work together to explore the client's life experiences and examine how they influence current circumstances. In order to do this, the therapist acts as a facilitator and guide, allowing the client to take control of their own journey.

At times, this may involve interpreting what the client says or does in order to uncover deeper meanings that are being expressed. It also requires an empathetic listening style that allows clients to talk freely without judgment or criticism. This helps create an environment where clients feel safe and supported in exploring difficult topics.

Existential therapy seeks to help clients find purpose and make sense of their existence. By helping them develop a greater understanding of who they are, it enables them to make meaningful choices about how they want to live their lives going forward. Through this process, existential therapists strive to empower clients by giving them the tools and resources necessary for leading fulfilling lives that align with their values and beliefs.

Techniques Utilized In Existential Therapy

Existential therapy is an approach to psychotherapy that focuses on the client's existing life and experiences, with the goal of helping them to become more self-aware. It is a specific type of psychotherapy that involves examining a person's thoughts, beliefs, values, and assumptions about life. In existential therapy, techniques are used to help clients explore their feelings of isolation, anxiety, and meaninglessness in order to come to terms with their own mortality and develop a sense of purpose.

In existential therapy, the therapist acts as a guide for the client, helping them to look inward and gain insight into themselves. The therapist will commonly ask open-ended questions in order to get the client to think deeply about their experiences, beliefs, values and goals. They may also use creative activities such as writing or art making in order to help the client express themselves in ways that are not possible through verbal communication alone.

The aim of these techniques is twofold: firstly, it helps clients face uncomfortable emotions such as fear or sadness; secondly, it encourages them to take ownership over their lives by being mindful of their choices and actions. This can lead clients towards greater self-acceptance and increased autonomy in decision-making. By utilizing these techniques within an existential framework, individuals can learn how to live more meaningful lives that are true to their own personal values.

Through this process of self-exploration and discovery, clients can gain greater insight into who they are and what matters most in life. Existential therapy seeks not only to provide relief from emotional distress but also equip individuals with the tools they need for leading more meaningful lives; one filled with purposeful direction and understanding of what makes us uniquely human.

Benefits Of Existential Therapy

Existential therapy is a form of psychotherapy that focuses on helping people find meaning in their lives. It encourages them to consider the purpose and impact of their choices and actions, while also exploring their beliefs about the world. Though the concept of existential therapy can seem intimidating, it has been found to be highly effective in helping individuals gain insight into themselves and make meaningful changes in their lives.

One of the primary benefits of existential therapy is its ability to promote self-awareness. This type of therapy helps people to better understand why they feel and act as they do, so that they can make informed decisions about how to live more authentically and happily. By emphasizing personal freedom, existential therapy also allows individuals to explore different ways to approach life’s challenges, such as finding peace amidst difficult circumstances or maintaining hope despite adversity.

In addition, existential therapy can help people develop a sense of responsibility for their own lives. Instead of simply blaming external events or other people for their struggles, this type of therapy encourages individuals to take ownership for their thoughts and actions. This process can lead to greater self-confidence, since it involves recognizing one’s own power and capacity for making positive change in life.

Existential therapy therefore offers an effective way for individuals to explore what matters most in life while also discovering how they might become more authentic versions of themselves. Through this process, individuals gain improved insight into who they are and how they want to live, ultimately leading to increased feelings of fulfillment and contentment with their lives overall.

Challenges Of Existential Therapy

Existential therapy is a type of psychotherapy that emphasizes free will, personal responsibility, and the importance of making meaning in life. Despite its many benefits, this form of therapy also comes with some challenges. In particular, it can be difficult for clients to accept their full responsibility for their own lives and decisions.

One challenge of existential therapy is that the client must take ownership over their own feelings and experiences. This means that they must confront any guilt or shame about their past choices without relying on outside sources for validation or absolution. Additionally, the client must understand that no one else can make decisions for them or change their life situation; only they have the power to do so. It can be difficult for some individuals to accept this level of personal responsibility.

Another challenge of existential therapy is related to creating meaning in life. Clients are encouraged to explore how they create purpose and direction through the choices they make every day. This process can lead to much self-reflection and introspection, which can bring up uncomfortable emotions such as fear or anxiety. The therapist's role is to provide guidance while the client works through these feelings in order to come up with meaningful answers that resonate with them on a deeper level.

Ultimately, existential therapy requires clients to confront themselves in ways that may not always be comfortable or easy. However, when done properly and with support from a qualified therapist, this approach can help individuals find greater clarity and purpose in their lives.

Typical Length Of Treatment

Existential therapy is a form of psychotherapy that focuses on the individual's search for meaning and purpose in life. It is often used to help individuals struggling with issues such as anxiety, depression, and existential crisis. So, how long does this type of treatment typically take?

The length of treatment varies depending on the individual's needs and goals. In general, most people may need between 10-20 sessions of existential therapy to work through their current issues and gain an understanding of their place in the world. A therapist may also recommend ongoing treatment after initial sessions if needed.

During these sessions, an existential therapist will focus on helping the individual to understand their beliefs about themselves and their place in the world. They'll explore these feelings and offer guidance to help them develop a better sense of self-understanding. Through this process, they may be able to gain clarity on difficult questions such as 'Who am I?' or 'What is my purpose?'.

It's important to note that while this type of therapy can be incredibly beneficial for those struggling with existential issues, it's not a quick fix. The goal isn't to provide individuals with immediate relief from their symptoms but rather to help them gain insight into their lives and develop lasting changes that can improve their overall wellbeing.

Cost Of Existential Therapy

The cost of existential therapy depends on several factors, including the type of therapy, the therapist's experience, and the duration of treatment. Generally speaking, it can range from $50 to $200 per hour-long session. Some therapists may also offer lower rates for couples or family sessions. Additionally, some insurance companies may cover part or all of the costs depending upon their policies.

When considering the cost of existential therapy, it is important to take into account other factors such as the time and effort involved in preparing for each session. This includes things like gathering information about past experiences and current life events that might be discussed during a session. It's also important to consider any additional resources you might need to access in order to make progress with your therapy goals - such as reading materials or online tools.

Overall, existential therapy can be an effective way of exploring difficult emotions and gaining insight into how we view ourselves and others in our lives. It can help us gain greater understanding of our individual choices and how we relate to ourselves and the world around us. The cost of this type of therapy will depend upon various factors discussed above; however, it is important to weigh these considerations against potential benefits when deciding if this type of treatment is right for you.

Finding An Existential Therapist

Finding an existential therapist can be a daunting task, and it’s important to research your options thoroughly. Existential therapy is a specialised approach, so you should look for a mental health professional with experience and qualifications in this field. Typically, those who practice existential therapy are psychologists or psychiatrists.

When searching for an existential therapist, you should consider both local and online options. Local therapists may offer in-person sessions, which can be beneficial for those looking for more traditional therapy methods. Online therapists may offer more flexibility in terms of scheduling sessions, but the lack of physical contact could be a downside for some people.

Once you’ve narrowed down your choices, you’ll want to do some research on the therapists themselves. Look into their credentials and read reviews to get an idea of what other clients have said about them. You can also reach out directly to ask any questions you might have about their approach or how they work with clients. It's important to choose someone who feels like the right fit for you and your needs.

No matter which route you take when selecting an existential therapist, it's important that you feel comfortable with the person you choose – after all, this is someone who will help guide your therapeutic journey!

Frequently Asked Questions

How Does Existential Therapy Differ From Other Types Of Therapy?

Existential therapy is a unique form of psychotherapy that focuses on an individual's capacity to make choices and take personal responsibility for their life decisions. It differs from other forms of therapy in its focus on the "here and now" rather than past experiences. Existential therapy does not rely on labels or diagnostic criteria like other therapies, but instead looks at the entire person and their environment.

The main goal of existential therapy is to help individuals understand their existence within the world and how it affects their life choices and outlook. This type of therapy encourages clients to explore their values, beliefs, freedom, mortality, and purpose in life. It also helps individuals create meaning in their lives and work through any feelings of anxiety, depression, or hopelessness that may arise from conflicting values and beliefs.

Existential therapists often help clients develop a greater understanding of themselves by exploring topics such as death, isolation, freedom of choice, responsibility for one’s own existence, meaninglessness in life, authenticity versus inauthentic performance, and fear of abandonment. Through this exploration process, clients can gain insight into how these topics affect them emotionally and physically. This can lead to increased self-awareness and personal growth as individuals take control over their own lives.

By recognizing our human condition and facing our fears head-on with courage and curiosity while reflecting on our values and beliefs in the present moment rather than dwelling in the past or ruminating about a future we cannot control – existential therapy can serve as an effective approach for many people seeking meaning in life.

How Can I Tell If Existential Therapy Is Right For Me?

Deciding whether existential therapy is right for you can be a difficult process. To make the best decision, it's important to understand how this type of therapy differs from other approaches. Existential therapy focuses on helping individuals find meaning in life by exploring their feelings and experiences. It encourages self-reflection and personal responsibility in order to help individuals gain insight into their current situation.

Unlike traditional therapies, existential therapy does not seek to diagnose or treat any specific medical disorder; instead, it seeks to help people explore the underlying issues that contribute to their suffering. This can involve examining one's sense of identity, purpose, and connection with others. It also involves exploring the concepts of death and freedom, and how these ideas can affect our lives.

One way to decide if existential therapy is right for you is by considering your goals for treatment and the type of environment that best suits your needs. Do you need a more structured approach with clear guidelines? Or do you prefer a more open-ended approach where you feel free to explore your thoughts and feelings? Additionally, it’s important to consider if you are looking for short-term relief or longer-term changes in your life. Taking the time to answer these questions will help you determine if existential therapy is the right choice for you.

Are There Any Risks Associated With Existential Therapy?

Existential therapy is a form of psychotherapy that focuses on an individual’s search for meaning and purpose in life. It can be beneficial for those who are struggling with certain issues, but it’s important to be aware of any potential risks associated with this type of treatment.

The primary risk associated with existential therapy is the possibility that the client may not be able to find a satisfying answer to their questions. Existential therapy encourages individuals to explore their beliefs and values, and if they cannot find any fulfilling answers, they may feel overwhelmed or frustrated. Additionally, some people may find this type of exploration difficult or uncomfortable, as it requires them to confront challenging topics such as death, suffering, and responsibility.

It’s also important to be aware that there is no “right” answer when it comes to existential therapy. Each person will have their own unique journey as they search for meaning and purpose in their life. As such, it can take time for individuals to identify what works best for them. That said, it’s important to remember that there is no “wrong” answer either – everyone has the right to decide what works best for them in terms of finding fulfillment and purpose in life.

While existential therapy can be beneficial, it’s important to understand the potential risks before engaging in this type of treatment. It’s always a good idea to talk with your therapist about your expectations so you can make sure you get the most out of your experience.

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What If I Don't Feel Comfortable Talking To An Existential Therapist?

When exploring the possibilities of existential therapy, it’s important to consider whether or not you feel comfortable talking to an existential therapist. It’s natural to feel uncertain when beginning any kind of new therapeutic process, and it’s especially true when considering something as unique as existential therapy.

If you don’t feel comfortable with an existential therapist, that doesn’t mean that this type of therapy isn’t right for you. There are many different kinds of therapists out there and it could be beneficial for you to explore other options. Talking to a more traditional therapist may help you get the support and guidance that you need in order to work through your issues in a way that feels safe and comfortable for you.

It is also important to remember that everyone has their own unique set of needs and preferences when it comes to therapy. You may find that once you begin working with an existential therapist, your feelings about the process change over time. Opening up in a safe space with a supportive professional can often be beneficial, even if it takes some time for you to adjust and feel at ease. Ultimately, the decision of which type of therapy is right for you is ultimately up to you.

No matter what type of therapeutic journey you embark on, making sure that your mental health needs are being met is essential. If at any point along the way, an existential therapist doesn't feel like the best fit for your needs, then don't hesitate to explore other options until you find something that works for you.

How Can I Make Sure I Get The Most Out Of My Existential Therapy Sessions?

Existential therapy is a powerful approach to improving mental health, but it can only be effective if the individual receiving the treatment is willing to engage. If you’re considering attending sessions with an existential therapist, it’s important to ensure you get the most out of your time together. Here are some tips for making sure that happens.

First and foremost, it’s important to be open and honest with your therapist. Don’t be afraid to share your thoughts and feelings even if they may be uncomfortable or difficult to talk about. Your therapist is there to help you work through those issues in a safe environment. It can also be helpful to come prepared with questions, topics of discussion, and any other relevant information that could help make the session more productive.

Finally, trust your therapist and their methods. Existential therapy may seem strange at first, as it involves exploring difficult emotions and facing one's mortality or lack of control over certain circumstances in life. However, these concepts can provide valuable insight into how we live our lives on a daily basis and how we can make positive changes for ourselves in the future. So take advantage of this opportunity by committing fully to each session and working with your therapist to reach meaningful conclusions about yourself and your life.


In conclusion, existential therapy can be a powerful way to explore the meaning and purpose of life. It's important to consider whether this type of therapy is right for you before beginning. If you're not comfortable talking with an existential therapist, there are other options available and it's always important to find a therapist that you can trust and feel comfortable with.

I believe that if you take the time to learn more about existential therapy and find the right therapist for you, it can be incredibly rewarding. It's also important to make sure that you get the most out of your sessions by being open and honest with your therapist and asking questions when needed. Existential therapy has the potential to help you create a meaningful life that is based on your own values, beliefs, and goals.

Overall, existential therapy is an approach that can help us explore our innermost thoughts and feelings in order to create a life full of meaning and purpose. Taking the time to understand how this type of therapy works can help ensure that you receive all of its benefits while avoiding any risks associated with it.