Existential Therapy

Existential therapy, created out of the existential philosophy tradition, is a treatment orientation based that focuses on the human condition as a whole. One of the primary goals of existential therapy is to help clients face life and its anxieties head on and to embrace the freedom of choice humans have, taking full responsibility for their choices as they do so. Therapists trained in existential therapy believe that unhealthy or undesirable behaviors result from an inhibited ability to make authentic, self-directed choices about how to live. Therefore, in therapy, an existential counselor will work with you to focus on your own responsibility and freedom. You will be challenged to think and behave responsibly by confronting internal thoughts, rather than outside pressures. Existential therapy seeks to help clients live more authentically, to be focused on the present (not the past), to be less concerned with superficiality and to find meaning in their lives. Think this approach might be right for you? Reach out to one of TherapyDen’s existential therapy specialists today.

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Meaning & purpose in life can help us survive the toughest situations. Unfortunately society often describes it as "finding meaning" so we keep hoping it will happen to us, or we are prescribed a purpose/meaning through religion, family, career, identity, etc. that may no longer be a good fit. Existential therapy helps us recognize that we have the power & responsibility to decide what is meaningful to us, create opportunities to nurture it, & re-evaluate it over the course of our life.

— Ashton Burdick, Licensed Mental Health Counselor in Cleveland, NC

Especially in this political and social climate, anxiety, dread, and depression can be attributed to the human condition; that is, being a human in this deeply imperfect world is bound to bring with it anxieties, worries, and a sense of loneliness sometimes. Viewing it as a normal, although unpleasant, part of life can help to shift the narrative from pathology, to a temporary feeling that we can use to explore these emotions and how they impact us globally.

— PSYCHe PLLC, Psychologist in Nashville, TN

Children are already exploring what the meaning of things are - I would approach your child's healing journey with a focus on their unique sense of meaning and purpose. By exploring existential themes such as freedom, responsibility, and mortality, I would help your child gain a deeper understanding of themselves and the world around them.

— Melanie Bikis, Licensed Professional Counselor Associate

Working through how clients approach their lives philosophically can be a powerful aspect of therapy. Existential therapy allows clients to ask big questions that affect their mental health. I enjoy having these conversations with clients and seeing the change it can make in their lives.

— Samire Qosaj, Therapist in Northbrook, IL

Existential-humanistic therapy seeks to create a therapeutic relationship and environment that fosters deepening awareness of oneself, including issues of meaning, choice, relationships, and working with one's potential and limitations. Rollo May, one of the founders of this approach, noted that the purpose of psychotherapy is to set people free.

— Louis Hoffman, Psychologist in Colorado Springs, CO

I hold the question "what are you doing here?" both in my office and on the earth as we meet keeping in mind whether you are living out your purpose. There are four "givens" of existence that e must grapple with: Death - it can be terrifying or freeing/motivating Isolation - we are born for/die for only ourselves Freedom - we have the freedom /responsibility for our life Meaning - we are meaning-making beings Sometimes symptoms point us to larger questions and we need help working through them.

— Addie Michlitsch, Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor in Roseville, MN

Underneath it all I see myself as a human- one who struggles and has struggled with the same fears that all humans have struggled with- mortality, isolation, our freedom to make choices, and our ultimate meaninglessness in a universe that is indifferent. I believe then that it is critical as a therapist to support people in finding their own meaning and purpose; and that they can trust themselves to make that decision.

— Morgan Flagg, Licensed Clinical Social Worker in South Burlington, VT

An existential approach to therapy emphasizes the importance of the meaning that each person makes in life and that the path that one takes can only be understood in the context of their unique life experience. This means that the questions, "Who am I?" and "What is the meaning of life" is a personal journey that, ultimately, only the individual can discover for themselves.

— Matthew Beeble, Licensed Mental Health Counselor in Vancouver, WA

I believe that life's struggles and questions have the power to bring meaning and purpose to our existence. I provide a warm, supportive environment to help individuals explore and understand their experiences, feelings and beliefs. My approach integrates elements of existential, humanistic, and psychodynamic theories to help you understand yourself and your place in the world. Let's work together to empower you in your journey towards personal growth and fulfillment.

— Scotty Gilmore, Licensed Professional Counselor in Fort Worth, TX

Where do you find meaning? What is important to you? What does happiness look like to you? Who or what are you living for? The idea that only we can define or determine our own purpose and path is daunting and overwhelming, but can also be liberating and life-affirming.

— Nathan Robbel, Therapist in Chicago, IL

We are free beings to choose as we see fit and create meaning out of those experiences that fulfills and enriches us. Yet, too many times we allow our perceptions to be shaped by biased meaning projected upon us and not authentic to our true self. What you have been through was not to diminish you. It was to equip you to receive more out of life.

— Sheldon Kay, Licensed Professional Counselor Associate in Duluth, GA

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms- to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” This quote by Viktor Frankl changed my life. I was in the middle of my own therapy journey and needed a lifeline. This was it: permission to choose my own way, no matter how hard the situation. Existential therapy is all about finding meaning in your experiences, and giving you back the power to create change in your life.

— Katie Bautch, Psychologist in Sacramento, CA

I help clients with meaning making exercises to feel closer to the life they imagine for themselves

— Anthony Rodriguez, Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor in Evanston, IL

You will find a safe space to explore in your darkest and brightest of hours. For four years, I have had the privilege of walking alongside people on their cancer and grief journeys—from diagnosis to treatment to survivorship and beyond. From them, I have learned how people navigate life within an existential crisis. My own struggles, analysis, training, and growth allow me to be fully present with you.

— Lisa Rainwater, Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor in Winston Salem, NC

Finding meaning, direction, and purpose in life can be some of the greatest sources of anxieties for a person. Existential therapy looks at a person as a whole, in a humanistic context, to look at all the factors affecting a person and how those manifest into anxiety. It centers on deep, introspective discussions to help a person learn how to search for answers to meaning in life, to choose the way they want to live, and help people find connectedness to the world - ultimately reducing anxiety.

— Kate Mageau, Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor Associate in Seattle, WA

Existential therapy is a philosophical approach that explores the human condition. It addresses universal issues like freedom, responsibility, mortality, and the pursuit of meaning. Rather than focusing on past experiences, it emphasizes the here-and-now and the individual's potential for self-determination, encouraging authenticity and personal growth.

— Jennifer Gray, Licensed Professional Counselor in Portland, OR

When clients first begin therapy, one of the questions that often comes up is what it means to work through emotions or traumas. From the perspective of Existential Therapy, we address the meaning that these experiences hold for you, which comes from our ability to build context foresight around them. If the past still hurts, or if the future holds too many mysteries, it is worth exploring the meaning that we derive from our life's story as a whole.

— Evan Powers, Mental Health Counselor in Loveland, CO

A fan of Abraham Maslow, I view client experience as one that, cultural contexts aside, has universal elements across all people when it comes to issues of purpose and meaning, life, esteem, aging, and death.

— Gregory Gooden, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in POMONA, CA

I love working within existential therapy and helping people identify their values and goals in life, and how to live by those. I believe it is important to find purpose and meaning in life that helps us to keep going when times are tough.

— Caley Johnson, Associate Clinical Social Worker in Bellingham, WA

In my philosophical counseling practice, I draw on existential thinkers like Nietzsche, Sartre, De Beauvoir, Buber, Frankl to help clients to work through different versions of the "existential crisis." Together we work through the loss of meaning brought on by an experience of disillusionment, the loss of self brought on by various identity crises, and the loss of freedom and authenticity brought on by experiences of alienation, objectification, oppression or "bad faith".

— Monica Vilhauer, Counselor in Portland, OR