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.

Need help finding the right therapist?
Find Your Match

Meet the specialists


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

My approach to counseling centers around identifying the things that matter the most to you and the strengths and abilities you’ve used to survive in this life so far, creating a safe space to look more closely at the difficult areas of life that don’t appear to have easy answers. I see therapy as a healing and creative process, where my training and knowledge act as a mirror to help you unlock your own expertise on yourself.

— Matt McCullough, Licensed Professional Counselor

While intellectual theories of behavior and change provide a conceptual framework for communicating about human behavior and experience, they do not capture the essence of what it is like to be human. Reality Attunement Therapy stresses the experiential conditions necessary for meaningful change.

— Mike Lubofsky, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in Oakland, CA

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 we 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

I want to help clients find and make meaning and purpose in their lives. I am honest with clients about harsh realities of the human experience in the interest of helping clients come to terms with them and become their most authentic and free selves.

— Kirsten Cannon, Counselor in Memphis, TN

Life is about finding your individual meaning, purpose, and direction. This is the only defense we have against the random horrible things that happen to us. Perhaps the best way to describe this type of therapy is to give you the name of two books to read: "Man's Search for Meaning" by Viktor Frankl and "The Gift of Therapy: An Open Letter to a New Generation of Therapists and Their Patients" by Irvin D. Yalom.

— Gregory Custer, Licensed Professional Counselor in Scottsdale, AZ

I use tenets of Gestalt and Existential therapy in my work, as I believe that we all gravitate naturally towards self-determination and holistic congruence. Self-examination and self-awareness are key steps for this - supported in therapy. I use tenets of Gestalt therapy in association with existential therapy: such as immediacy, the therapeutic relationship, and individual responsibility.

— Neil Panchmatia, Counselor in Portland, OR

Existential therapy asks deep questions about the nature of being human. Why am I here? What do I want from life? What gives me purpose? What matters to me? It simultaneously asks us to consider our unique experience in this world while also helping us to see that everything we're going through is also connected to a universal human experience.

— Damon Dodge, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in Denver, CO

Existential therapy acknowledges there is no solution to the great questions about the meaning of life or death. By identifying your guiding values in life, and sitting with the discomfort of death, you may find more inner peace.

— Katherine Mancera, Associate Marriage & Family Therapist

I offer support for the anxieties that occur when a person confronts the inherent conflicts of life. I find it helpful to weave a deep humanistic approach along in with existential exploration.

— Candis Zimmerman, Licensed Professional Counselor Associate in , TX

Many of us have experienced the pain of being different in some way. In therapy meeting people person to person and uniting over some of the universal experiences, fears and even needs we have can begin to help us move closer to where we seek to be on our healing journey. While we all experience things through different lenses, we all seek the same things and working to tackle the universal experiences enables us to feel more freedom.

— David Cogdell, Licensed Professional Counselor

I have a background in existential philosophy and psychology. Discovering deeper meaning by confronting the difficult questions that arise from the unique nature of the human condition. What does it mean to be alive? How do my choices define me? How can I live a life committed to action and purpose? How can I embrace my failures and celebrate my success?

— Michael Ianello, Licensed Professional Counselor in Portland, OR

Let's explore the human condition and what it means to you. I take a strength based approach that increases self-awareness, accountability and quality of life.

— Sara Lowery, Psychotherapist in Marion, NC

My experience and studies in literature paved the way for my current philosophical and therapeutic approach in counseling. It was the influence of French authors like Jean-Paul Sartre and Albert Camus that left a huge mark on my professional development. I would later consolidate their teachings with experts in Psychology, such as Viktor Frankl and his emphasis on the "will to meaning." How we make meaning out of the suffering we endure can be one of the most powerful questions in counseling.

— Dakota Fidram, Associate Professional Counselor in Atlanta, GA

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

I believe that key aspects of existential therapy such as guilt, anxiety, responsibility, meaning, and death are important to not ignore. I also believe that these principles can guide people when they appear to be "stuck" on something, and can appropriately challenge thinking patterns to create long lasting positive changes.

— Jorge Flores, Licensed Professional Counselor in Denver, CO

I have always been drawn to existential therapy and its ability to tackle and sit with life's big questions. I have studied the work of Viktor Frankl and Irvin Yalom, and draw from principles of Frankl's Meaning Making Therapy, which I find particularly useful when navigating major life transitions.

— Negin Naraghi, Associate Professional Counselor in Portland, OR

I have been interested in the meaning of life since I first read Man's Search For Meaning 30 years ago. As a cancer patient, I have had a lot of time to consider my own purpose, and I think most people at some point (or many points) in their lives have moments where they contemplate what this all means. I love helping my clients explore the existential concerns of death, freedom, isolation, and meaning.

— Brandie Sellers, Licensed Professional Counselor in McKinney, TX

Focus upon the ways in which individuals make meaning of their life situations--in the particulars as well as with respect to the phenomenon of life itself--is a central focus of my study and practice. I find value in the rich philosophical and psychological traditions informing existential work in therapy, integrating these considerations as my clients express a desire or yearning to do so.

— Mike Lee, Clinical Psychologist in Charlotte, NC