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.

Meet the specialists

Existential therapy explores core issues that affect us all as human beings regardless of ones diagnoses, race, gender, religion, sexual orientation etc. Realities such as freedom and responsibility, and finding meaning in ones life are part of the human struggle and affect us all. Existential therapy helps you gain insight how these issues impact your life and empowers you to be your most genuine self.

— Karly Hoffman King, Counselor in Montgomery, OH

A common theme that comes up in session with clients and in my own life is how do we cope with the vast unknown. My general world view is existential. Part of the work of therapy is helping you identify your coping strategies for life's unknowns and help you build your tolerance for sitting with it rather than running away.

— Lily Sloane, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in San Francisco, CA

Existential therapy is based on the assumption that life is worth living, but you have to figure out your own answer as to "why". We all have freedom to make choices but sometimes that freedom can be scary, because it comes with a huge responsibility: you are in charge of making the important decisions in your life and finding/creating your own sense of meaning. I guide my clients towards their own sense of meaning and happiness, so they are never alone as they learn how to do it.

— Zofia Czajkowska, Psychologist in Montreal,

Existential Therapy can help you explore and clarify your concept of the most essential aspects of your life; what it means to be free, and the responsibility inherent in freedom. I feel that Existential Therapy and Contemplative Therapy overlap a bit in some ways, and that they tend to compliment each other, as well as Person-Centered Therapy. I belong to the professional group Existential-Humanistic Northwest.

— Susan Rooney, Counselor in Portland, OR

Life's meaning changes time to time. I'd like to focus how you live rather than your symptoms.

— Junko Yamauchi, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in Santa Clara, CA

Existential therapy focuses on free will, self-determination, and the search for meaning—often centering on you rather than on the symptom. The approach emphasizes your capacity to make rational choices and to develop to your maximum potential. Primary focus on life-enhancing experiences like relationships, love, caring, commitment, courage, creativity, power, will, presence, spirituality, individuation, self-actualization, authenticity and acceptance.

— Amanda Dutton, Licensed Professional Counselor in Gainesville, GA

Free will, personal choice and responsibility, and exploring the meaning of life are key parts of how I work. I believe this is the fundamental dignity of being human and love seeing people connect with their own deepest values.

— Heather Seguin, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in Upland, CA

Existential psychotherapy is a style of therapy that places emphasis on the human condition as a whole. Existential psychotherapy uses a positive approach that applauds human capacities and aspirations while simultaneously acknowledging human limitations. Six propositions of existential therapy are: Capacity for self-awareness. Freedom and responsibility. Establishing an identity and meaningful relationships. Finding meaning. Anxiety is unavoidable. Awareness of mortality.

— Radmila Hollnagel, Licensed Professional Counselor in Charlotte, NC

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


— Troy Piwowarski, Psychologist in Oakland, CA

Existential Therapy focuses on free will, self-determination, and the search for meaning. This approach often centers on you rather than on the symptom you are experiencing. The approach emphasizes your capacity to make rational choices and to develop to your maximum potential.

— Cheryl Perry, Licensed Professional Counselor in Charlotte, NC