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

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
 

Our search for meaning and identity is often difficult in a culture that is more and more dominated by preoccupation with partisan politics, likes, shares, and followers. Though we are often not in control of external circumstances, our ability to determine our own meaning and lessons from our experiences still remains. I'd love to help you find meaning and growth in your challenges.

— Kimberly Watts Hoggatt, Licensed Professional Counselor in San Antonio, TX

We are all capable humans with some amount of self-determination in our lives. My belief is that we each create meaning in different ways. Part of my goal is to explore with you how you find meaning in your life and what your narratives about yourself and others are to see where supportive shifts can happen.

— Augustin Kendall, Counselor in Minneapolis, MN
 

The search for happiness is usually frustrating and elusive because happiness is a feeling that comes and goes. If you focus on finding meaning, you are much more likely to succeed. I work with clients to discern their own values and help them adhere to those values. Life as a human being is inherently limited, and it is hard to accept those limits; however, choosing from among the available options helps you feel more in charge of your own life.

— Joanna Morse, Psychologist in Brandon, FL

Cited by therapy researchers as an essential component of all effective therapies, interpreting client struggles through the lens of existential givens (interrelation, death, isolation, freedom, responsibility) provides a deeper analyses of what may be missing from a person's pursuit of meaningful living. I draw from exceptional study of these approaches, including mentoring from leaders in the field (such as Irvin Yalom and Bruce Wampold).

— Dylan Keenberg, Clinical Psychologist in Bellingham, WA
 

"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

Cited by researchers as an essential component of effective therapy, interpreting client struggles through the lens of existential givens (interrelation, death, isolation, freedom, responsibility) provides deeper analyses of what may be missing from a person's pursuit of meaningful living. I draw from exceptional study of these approaches, including mentoring from leaders in the field (such as Irvin Yalom and Kirk Schneider). This approach is also the least pathologizing available.

— Dylan Keenberg, Clinical Psychologist in Bellingham, WA
 

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— Troy Piwowarski, Psychologist in Oakland, CA

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
 

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

Listening to unease and discontent can shift our relationship to inherent pains and discomforts of living. Awareness of the impact and implications of beliefs, values, and actions allows us to be deliberate in how we show up, engage with ourselves and others, and participate in our lives and the world. Cultivating honesty with ourselves, drawing in spiritual and philosophical threads, illuminates purpose and meaning, moving towards ethical alignment and greater congruence and integrity.

— Jessamyn Wesley, Licensed Professional Counselor in portland, OR
 

This is one of the first orientations I fully bought into as a clinician. The four conditions of humanness are hard to unsee when you finally grasp them, and my training includes extensive reading and reflection on existential therapists, as well as consultation and supervision from this approach.

— Tara Vossenkemper, Licensed Professional Counselor in Columbia, MO

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

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
 

Cited by researchers as an essential component of effective therapy, interpreting client struggles through the lens of existential givens (interrelation, death, isolation, freedom, responsibility) provides a deeper analyses of what may be missing from a person's pursuit of meaningful living. I draw from exceptional study of these approaches, including mentoring from leaders in the field (such as Irvin Yalom and Bruce Wampold). This approach is also the least pathologizing approach.

— Dylan Keenberg, Clinical Psychologist in Bellingham, WA

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
 

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
 

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

My basis for how I see humanity and change is Existential Therapy. I believe in the importance of authentic living and development of a strong sense of self. When we live inauthentically due to pressures from culture, family, and friends, the disconnect can develop into anxiety, depression, anger, and other issues that impact our daily lives. Existential Therapy is the backdrop to all of my counseling, but I then bring in various techniques and other theory to meet specific client needs.

— Ty Neely, Licensed Professional Counselor Intern in Houston, TX
 

Cited by therapy researchers as an essential component of all effective therapies, interpreting client struggles through the lens of existential givens (interrelation, death, isolation, freedom, responsibility) provides a deeper analyses of what may be missing from a person's pursuit of meaningful living. I draw from exceptional study of these approaches, including mentoring from leaders in the field (such as Irvin Yalom and Bruce Wampold).

— Dylan Keenberg, Clinical Psychologist in Bellingham, WA

My approaches are supported by an existential foundation. The existential approach primarily has to do with understanding and empathizing with your efforts to manage the responsibility and anxiety of making choices and finding meaning in life. Our ability to 'think about' and choose (rather than just react) is a great gift, but also anxiety-provoking.

— Christopher Michael, Clinical Psychologist in Claremont, CA
 

Our Therapist, Jenny Larson, practices from an integrative Existential-Humanistic counseling orientation.

— Elizabeth Gentzkow, Licensed Professional Counselor in Portland, OR

An existential approach to psychotherapy is about optimizing options in the face of limitations. It's an integrative way of working with people to help them become more internally free. It’s a life-altering therapy that will help you discover how to live a more deeply satisfying & productive life--helping you become more conscious of a wider vision of your life's purpose & trajectory. It promotes a revived sense of engagement with existence & can help open us up to a new attitude toward living.

— Dr. Johnathon Neda, Clinical Psychologist in Costa Mesa, CA
 

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

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 , CA
 

Existential Therapy focuses on the individual, rather than the symptoms. Existential Therapy explores one’s search for meaning, free will, and self-determination in order to increase self-awareness and self-understanding.

— Shavonne James, Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Long Beach, CA

I help clients find meaning in their life and we explore both the freedom and the responsibility of living life authentically.

— Jenny Larson, Counselor in Portland, OR
 

Living is not for the faint of heart. To seek meaning and actively engage with an exploration of individual and collective humanity is a shifting lifelong journey. Existential therapy wrestles with matters of life and death, and what it means to you to be a human being with all the attendant pain, sorrow, joy, and questioning.

— Polly Harrison, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist Intern in Portland, OR