In a world filled with chaos and uncertainty, many individuals find themselves struggling to understand their purpose and significance. Existential psychotherapy aims to help clients overcome distress by discovering self-determined meaning and direction in their lives. This therapeutic approach views anxiety, depression, and other issues as partially arising from a lack of meaning or freedom to make life choices congruent with one’s values. By exploring an individual’s worldview and perception of existence, existential psychotherapy seeks to create positive change.
Existential psychotherapy traces inspiration back to late 19th century European thinking forwarding individual will, freedom, and self-actualization in an ambiguous world without predetermination. Building on existentialist underpinnings emphasizing subjective interpretation of reality and personal responsibility in shaping one’s character, existential therapy emerged in the 1960s as applying philosophical concepts psychotherapeutically. Through open-ended questioning focused on a client’s unique life circumstances and perspectives, practitioners help empower individuals in exercising agency over evolving purpose and values providing motivation.
Initial Evaluation Phase
The first primary phase of existential psychotherapy involves comprehensive psychological evaluation assessing contributing issues dimming a client’s inner spark and willingness to play an active role shaping one’s direction. By reflecting carefully on past trauma, experiences of rejection or inadequacy, worldview assumptions, and beliefs around ability to grow and change, this opening stage of therapy establishes basis for themes to explore. It also forges essential understanding, trust, and rapport between client and therapist making in-depth work possible. Rather than treating surface-level symptoms alone in isolation, existential psychotherapy aims to illuminate root existential causes underlying presenting problems.
Exploration of Life Themes
After foundational evaluation, the therapist guides examination of critical life themes giving structure and meaning to a client’s worldview over time. Subjects frequently emerging in sessions involve our mortal nature and coping with death, quests for freedom and purpose without rigid absolutes, pathways to transcending stagnancy and despair, and balances of isolation versus connectivity with self and others. By reflecting on personal interpretations around these common yet deeply intimate themes through open Socratic discussion, new awareness emerges on barriers narrowing life engagement. This powers reorientation toward more authentic living aligned with an evolving sense of significance.
Reconciliation and Growth
Following thoughtful assessment of oneself, existential psychotherapy enters reconciliation and growth phases as understanding knowledge now empowers the present. With therapist assistance, clients relinquish former assumptions that rationalized avoidance of free will and openness essential for flourishing. New personal meaning and direction take shape organically by aligning choices and goals to awakened values and purpose. Painful darkness fades as once hindering themes become integrated in an increasingly meaningful worldview owned by the client rather than imposed externally. Now standing firmly in considered convictions and backed by the self-confidence to live accordingly, positive transformation unfolds.
While existential therapy episodes may conclude, most clients continue occasional contact to sustain hard-won progress against inevitable life challenges threatening to undermine growth. During periodic hourly sessions scheduled as needed or through monthly support meetings in group settings, existential principles reinforce determination to keep authoring an unfolding story of self-realization. Even in times of substantial transition, anxiety, or crisis, the lasting tools existential psychotherapy equipped clients with including self-reflection, tactical freedom, and defining personal meaning steadfastly guide resilient responses.
In summary, key phases shaping productive existential psychotherapy include:
● Initial assessment and appraisal of core issues
● Exploration and awareness building around life themes
● Reconciliation of new understanding into world views
● Growth unhindered by former assumptions
● Ongoing support sustaining determination
Through compassionate guidance analysing how we interpret existence and opportunities surrounding us, existential psychotherapy empowers individuals in exercising agency over creating meaning and purpose generating motivation from within. By authoring our life story going forward based on discovered wisdom rather than reacting fearfully to external forces beyond control, existential principles pave pathways to overcome distress and thrive. Now standing firmly rooted in considered convictions aligned to awakened values, transformation unfolds as we truly live rather than just exist.