In a chaotic and unpredictable world, many people struggle to identify their own purpose and meaning. Existential psychotherapy seeks to assist clients in overcoming pain by identifying self-determined purpose and direction in their lives. This therapeutic approach sees anxiety, sadness, and other issues as being caused in part by a lack of meaning or freedom to make life choices that are consistent with one’s beliefs. Existential psychotherapy aims to bring about positive change by studying an individual’s worldview and perception of existence.
Existential psychotherapy draws inspiration from late nineteenth-century European thinking that promotes individual will, freedom, and self-actualization in an ambiguous world without predetermined outcomes. Existential therapy arose in the 1960s as a psychotherapy application of philosophical notions, with an emphasis on subjective interpretation of reality and human responsibility in creating one’s character. Practitioners help individuals exercise agency over evolving purpose and values by asking open-ended questions about their particular life circumstances and viewpoints.
The initial evaluation phase
The first primary element of existential psychotherapy entails a complete psychiatric evaluation to identify underlying difficulties that are dimming a client’s inner spark and motivation to actively shape one’s own direction. This first stage of therapy creates the foundation for themes to be explored by carefully focusing on prior trauma, experiences of rejection or inadequacy, worldview assumptions, and beliefs about the potential to develop and change. It also builds critical understanding, trust, and rapport between client and therapist, allowing for more in-depth treatment. Rather than treating surface-level symptoms in isolation, existential psychotherapy seeks to uncover the core existential causes of presenting issues.
Exploration of Life Themes
Following a foundational evaluation, the therapist directs an investigation of significant life themes, which provide structure and meaning to a client’s worldview over time. Subjects that regularly arise in sessions include our mortal nature and coping with death, quests for freedom and purpose without strict absolutes, methods to transcending stagnancy and despair, and balances of isolation against connectivity with self and others. Reflecting on personal interpretations of these common yet very emotional themes through open Socratic conversation leads to increased knowledge of barriers to life involvement. This powerful reorientation towards more honest living is consistent with an expanding feeling of significance.
Reconciliation and Growth
Following a thoughtful self-assessment, existential psychotherapy moves into the reconciliation and growth phases, as knowing knowledge now empowers the present. Clients, with the help of a therapist, let go of old beliefs that justified their avoidance of free choice and openness, both of which are necessary for growth. New personal meaning and direction emerge organically from aligning choices and goals with awakened values and purpose. Painful darkness lessens when formerly limiting themes are absorbed into an increasingly meaningful worldview owned by the client rather than imposed externally. Positive transformation occurs as a result of standing solid in one’s convictions and having the self-confidence to live appropriately.
While existential therapy periods may come to an end, most clients maintain intermittent contact to maintain hard-won success in the face of unavoidable life setbacks that impede growth. Existential principles boost determination to continue authoring an unfolding story of self-realization throughout planned hourly sessions or monthly support meetings in group settings. Even during times of significant transition, anxiety, or crisis, the long-term tools provided by existential psychotherapy to clients, such as self-reflection, tactical freedom, and establishing personal meaning, continue to guide resilient responses.
In conclusion, crucial phases influencing productive existential psychotherapy include:
● Initial examination and analysis of key concerns.
● Raising awareness of life themes
● Integrating new insights into worldviews
● Breaking free from old assumptions
● Providing ongoing support to maintain motivation
Existential psychotherapy helps individuals to exercise agency over establishing meaning and purpose, producing motivation from within, by providing caring counsel that examines how we interpret existence and the chances that surround us. Existential principles offer the road for us to overcome discomfort and prosper by writing our life stories based on newly discovered insight rather than reacting fearfully to external forces beyond our control. Now that we are firmly planted in deliberate convictions connected with enlightened ideals, transformation unfolds as we actually live rather than exist.