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

I have studied Applied Existential Psychotherapy in Boulder, CO and just completed a training with Irvin Yalom. Existential concerns and our search for meaning are oftentimes at the core of the challenges or distress we are facing.

— Cindy Gordon, Licensed Professional Counselor in Longmont, CO

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 therapy focuses on each person as a unique individual as well as the choices that shape their life. The therapist empowers the person to take responsibility for their decisions and create the present and future they desire; by evaluating their values, beliefs and situation, acknowledging limitations, identifying opportunities for their life, finding meaning and purpose and developing more effective ways of communicating.

— Shay Phillips, Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Houston, TX

I have a Master's Degree in 'Clinical Mental Health Counseling,' completing my clinical internship placing a dual focus with this emphasis. Following graduation I was hired at the Western Montana Mental Health Center in Missoula, MT where was I hired as a Clinical Outpatient Therapist (LCPC). With my return to Minnesota, I was hired as a Psychotherapist (LPCC) in Minneapolis before transitioning into private practice.

— David Baumrucker, Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor in Cottage Grove, MN

While my theoretical approach can best be described as eclectic, I have a strong foundation in existential psychology and am heavily influenced by that school of thought, so I do often see things through that lens: really upbeat stuff like ‘neurotic anxiety’ and ‘existential paralysis.’ But it’s a lot more fun than it sounds. And it can be very liberating to view life in those terms, to find meaning in the way we are interacting with the world, and to make a choice to choose differently.

— Dr. Michelle Alvarez, Clinical Psychologist in Asheville, NC

I work from a foundation of an existential humanism orientation. This means I'm concerned always with my client's context, with ongoing themes, and with their search for authenticity and purpose. Rather than the goal being happiness, I believe the goal is to feel alive and, as much as possible, feel the awe in life.

— Kerry Cohen, Licensed Professional Counselor in Portland, OR

I believe that each person has the power to determine what has meaning in their life. What we give meaning to is often what dictates how we feel and how we live. We must also find ways to accept ourselves as individuals rather than waiting for others to accept us. We can work together to help you identify what you want to give meaning to your life and to accept who you are at this moment.

— Ashton Burdick, Licensed Professional Counselor in Mooresville, NC

Helping people find a balance and meaning in their human experience is at the core of why I am a therapist. I have practiced existential therapy for the past five years and quite honestly have lived this orientation all of my life. Challenges and issues are part of our experience as humans and can not be viewed as bad or good or black or white. Instead when it is viewed through this gray area it fosters self-awareness that I believe people make the most of their lives.

— ShannonElaine John, Counselor in Denver, CO

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

Sometimes we question our place on the world. It’s a natural experience to question the big issues in life, such as why we are here, what is our purpose, and what kind of meaning we can assign to these ideas. I can help you explore these feelings and try to find answers for yourself.

— Lisa Epstein, Licensed Professional Counselor Intern in Garland, TX

Helping you to develop self-awareness and take responsibility for your choices to realize your full potential and self-actualization.

— Cynthia Goeller, Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor in ,

Based on free will, self-determination, and the search for meaning centering on you rather than on the symptoms. I believe we all have the capacity for self-awareness. Learning more about you and your uniqueness will help you made the best decisions for your life.

— Dr. Adriana Dyurich, Licensed Professional Counselor in Corpus Christi, TX

I have a Master's Degree in 'Clinical Mental Health Counseling,' (2016) completing my clinical internship placing a focus within this emphasis. Following graduation I was hired at the Western Montana Mental Health Center in Missoula, MT where I hired as a Clinical Outpatient Therapist (LCPC). With my return to Minnesota, I was hired as a Psychotherapist (LPCC) in Minneapolis before transitioning into private practice.

— David Baumrucker, Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor in Cottage Grove, MN

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 Cleveland Heights, OH

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, VT

People are the only creatures on earth who are truly aware of their existence, which is a benefit and a burden. Setting time aside to look at our meaning and purpose is never wasted. This sort of work is why I am a believer in not setting artificial limits for time spent in therapy, since all of us are evolving, hopefully for the better.

— Gilbert Bliss, Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Towson, MD

"Listen man," says the freshman as she exhales a huge bong hit, "we all should take some time off from school to figure this sh*t out." I wasn't that freshman. But she's not wrong. Existential angst and the reality of death will park in your driveway sooner or later. We're a tiny speck on a small rock falling through space. That's enough to startle anyone. Accepting all that and still creating personal meaning in your life is an essential part of human development.

— Scott Levenberg, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in LOS ANGELES, CA

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 how we find meaning in our lives. People who seek psychotherapy often have lost abilities, careers, or relationships. How do we redefine our lives and find new sources of satisfaction and joy while grieving such loss? I can help you find ways to connect with meaning in yourself, your relationships with others, and your relationship with the world around you.

— Peter Addy, Licensed Mental Health Counselor in Vancouver, WA

I approach therapy from an existential worldview with a psychodynamic approach to help clients better understand their distress. I tailor therapeutic interventions to the specific needs of each client with the goal of empowering my clients to make meaningful decisions regarding their wellbeing and safety. Therapy is often difficult, and I work to create a safe space for each client to allow for authenticity and genuineness.

— Heather Stephenson, Psychologist in Evanston, IL

"If nothing we do matters, all that matters is what we do." Meaning arises from the actions we take and the relationships we form with ourselves and others.

— Grant Gordin, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in Austin, TX

Meaning and purpose are central to life's greatest joys and deepest sorrows. Through this lens, I support clients in expanding self awareness while cultivating their sense of both freedom and responsibility. I also intertwine practical applications including career exploration, building quality relationships, and pursuing a 'life worth living' aligned with the individual's unique values. In this way, clients confront the 'big questions and gain ownership over their healing process.

— Stephanie Renny, Counselor in Cincinnati, OH

Existential Therapy (ET)approach asserts people experience intrapsychic conflict due to their interaction with certain conditions inherent in human existence. In other words, a person has discord in their life either related to the world around, extrinsically, or within, intrinsically. For example, differences with one's boss, struggles with coworkers, relational issues, problems with your teenager, etc. ET alleviates stress, anx, depression, and adds clarity, meaning & max's one's potential.

— Brendon Mendoza, Licensed Mental Health Counselor in Seattle, WA

I've found that to a certain extent, (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.

— Sarah Fink, Licensed Mental Health Counselor in Boston, MA

Both the human condition and what is meaningful to us exists through interdependence and interactions with others. You and I do not exist in an isolated space, and your work with me is a microcosm of what you're like with others. I look to evoke what is meaningful to you, assigning value to this, and integrating this so that you may be genuine and authentic in your life.

— Kayla Lajoie, Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Ann Arbor, MI