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

Increasing your self-awareness and self-understanding, focusing on the freedom and responsibility you have to your choices which works to expose your power over the direction you are going are main tenets of existential therapy. Helping you confront negative internal thoughts rather than external forces while helping you focus more on the experiences that are life-enhancing while working to alleviate the symptoms that make life harder are the intentions of this type of therapy.

— Karen Harris, Licensed Professional Counselor Intern in Clackamas, OR

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

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

I practice existential therapy by focusing on areas of your life in which you can promote a greater sense of meaning and purpose, interpersonal connection, freedom, and fearlessness. I embrace the discomfort of not knowing the answer to all of life's questions, and strive to help my clients ease their anxiety about the great unknowns. Realizing that life's decisions can not always be put into boxes of "right" or "wrong" helps clients become more confident and assertive about making choices.

— Mary Mills, Counselor in Seattle, WA

An existential approach to therapy emphasizes the importance of the meaning that each person makes in life and that the path that one takes can only be understood in the context of their unique life experience. This means that the questions, "Who am I?" and "What is the meaning of life" is a personal journey that, ultimately, only the individual can discover for themselves.

— Matthew Beeble, Licensed Mental Health Counselor in Vancouver, WA

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

The goal is to understand the way the client sees the world and help them make choices based on this new insight. People often have a limited awareness of themselves. Main concepts for therapy are having the capacity for self-awareness, experiencing tension between freedom and responsibility; creating an identity and establishing meaningful relationships; searching for the meaning, purpose and values of life; accepting anxiety as a condition of living; and being aware of death and non-being.

— David Sachs, Counselor in Roseville, CA

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

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 is intertwined with philosophy and how it relates to your life.

— Hava Jarosz, Therapist in Baltimore, MD

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

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

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

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

A fan of Abraham Maslow, I view client experience as one that, cultural contexts aside, has universal elements across all people when it comes to issues of purpose and meaning, life, esteem, aging, and death.

— Gregory Gooden, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in Pasadena, 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

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

Everyone has a purpose, although not everyone recognizes it. Being mindful of this can keep us from wandering aimlessly through life with no direction. What if you begin to believe that your life actually has meaning? Would you make different choices?

— Monique Phillip, Counselor in Colorado Springs, CO

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

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

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

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

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

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

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