Existential Therapy Techniques (List)

This blog lays emphasis on existential therapy techniques.

There is much more to learn from this blog so let’s start with the main definition of existential therapy, also known as existential psychotherapy.

What is Existential Therapy / Psychotherapy?

Existential therapy (or existential psychotherapy) is centered on some of the core concepts behind existentialism as a theory, including: 

  • We are responsible for making our own decisions. 
  • We are all special people because of the choices we make, and we are always making our own choices. 
  • In life, we make our own sense. 
  • Anxiety is a common aspect of human life. 
  • We must come to terms with this fear in order to function authentically (Burnham & Papandriopoulos, n.d.). 

Built on these foundations, existential therapy aims to help clients accept and overcome the existential fears inherent in human beings.

These fears include the following:

  • Security and transparency 
  • Death
  • Insulation 
  • Impairment (Vallejos, 2016) 

Existential Therapy Techniques

Therapists who practice existential psychotherapy do not dwell on the history of a client. Instead, they work with a person in counseling to discover and discuss the options that lie ahead of them.

In retrospect, the therapist and therapist work together to consider the consequences of past decisions and the values that caused them to take place, and as a way of working towards the aim of gaining a deeper insight into self.

Through existential therapy, the focus is not on focusing on the past, but on using the past as a method to encourage liberation and newfound assertiveness.

Through recognizing that they are neither special nor meant for a particular reason, a person in counseling is in a position to break the restrictive chains that could have stopped them from living in fullness from time to time.

Once this happens, they will be able to become fully healthy.

How Do Existential Therapy Techniques Work?

Since existential therapy is distinct from most other forms of therapy, it can be difficult to describe what its methods are.

This can make it appear that there are no techniques. The truth is, what kind of existential therapy each person is going to be very dependent on; 

  • Why their psychological problems show themselves 
  • Their temperament, how they react to difficult questions with honest introspection 
  • The nature and quality of relationships with the professional to help them 
  • The basic problems are the same for everyone, but the solutions and procedures are rather personalized.
  • Whether you and your therapist want to tackle your existential problems would be very personal 

There will be no simple solutions, too. Each issue will require careful identification, analysis, and response.

It requires a while, and it may seem more nebulous, but it is very effective when practiced with patience. 

One distinctive characteristic is that cognitive therapy is typically one-on-one therapy.

Many strategies can include other men, family members, or spouses.

Existential therapy is often independent, concentrated on you and your therapist looking at your perception of your life.

While it is possible to focus on and deal with existential issues individually, this is not something most people can do in the long term to the extent where it is successful in actually fixing stuff.

Worse still, because of the high potential to get lost in extremely negative and stressful thought habits, it can also be dangerous to spend too much time worrying about these problems without any help.

How can Existential Psychotherapy Help?

People in treatment who are ready to discuss the reasons for their intrapsychic conflict and the decisions that have contributed to their present circumstances that benefit greatly from existential psychotherapy.

There are many social and mental health issues that can be successfully addressed through this therapeutic approach, including depression, anxiety, substance dependence, and post-traumatic stress due to exposure to military combat, rape, childhood sexual abuse, interpersonal violence, or other life-threatening encounters.

Individuals who respond to treatment continue to find meaning and intent in their lives and also experience increased self-awareness, self-understanding, self-respect, and self-motivation.

Awareness that they are ultimately responsible for their own recovery also increases the probability that people in care can see rehabilitation outside the boundaries of a therapy session and see rehabilitation as a therapeutic process.

Common Concerns and Limitations of Existential Therapy

Existential psychotherapy, much like other forms of treatments, maybe misinterpreted by people who do not have a comprehensive understanding of the fundamental concepts or scope of the linked theories.

This will help to gain an understanding of the values, beliefs, and evidence before and while taking part in care. 

Popular myths in existential psychotherapy include the following beliefs: 

  • One unique, coherent existential philosophy, free from internal conflict, incorporates all the fundamental concepts of existential psychology. In addition, there are at least five types of approaches, and most researchers see this as a strength of the approach since it leads to a clear analysis of the basic principles of the approach and allows for better adaptability. 
  • There’s no distinction between existential psychology and existential philosophy. While there are points of agreement between existential philosophy and existential therapy, there are also areas of divergence, and the variability in viewpoints of leading thinkers and researchers in both fields contributes to the advancement of each method.
  • Existential Psychology takes an anti-religious or anti-spiritual approach, for example, to deny the concept of god. Although existential psychology is not intrinsically religious and discourages people from following one individual or religion without question, it is also not anti-religious, and many of the leading scholars and pioneers have been Christian theologians. 
  • Existential and humanistic views are the same thing. While there is a consensus between the two hypotheses, they are not similar. However, the differences between these two schools of thought appear to be more marked and less complete.
  • Existential psychotherapy requires a negative, bleak, or gloomy view of life. Since the writings on existential psychology can be read as negative because of their belief that suffering should be accepted as part of human life. It is not, however, an endorsement of misery, but an acknowledgment of the reality that it is an inescapable part of being human. All existential therapy does is empower people to accept the nature of suffering in order to move through it and learn from it.
  • The approach is essentially an intellectual one and, as such, is only useful to people of high intellect who do not experience a chronic variety of mental health conditions. Individuals with every degree with intellect are capable of being conscious of their own existence and capable of making sense of their feelings and anxieties. It is not mandatory for a person to be a philosopher or academic to profit from the concepts of existential therapy, and many individuals who are currently dealing with mental health problems can also be supported by this approach.

What are the key concepts of existential therapy?

The following are the key concepts in existential therapy

  • Having the potential to be self-aware, to feel a conflict between rights and duty. 
  • To create an identity and to build meaningful relationships. 
  • To discover the essence, intent, and principles of life. 
  • To embrace fear as a human state. 
  • Being aware of mortality and non-being.

What is the main goal of existential therapy?

Existential counseling attempts at recognizing how the individual views the universe and having them create decisions dependent on this fresh perspective.

People also have little self-knowledge about the essence of their issues.

How effective is existential therapy?

Existential counseling may be particularly successful for teenagers and adults trying to make good decisions in their lives and recognize the effects of these decisions.

This can involve individuals coping with alcohol, fear, stress, and a broad variety of psychiatric and behavioral disorders.

What are the six propositions of existential therapy?

The six propositions of existential therapy are as follows:

  • Proposition 1: the capacity for self-awareness
  • Proposition 2: freedom and responsibility
  • Proposition 3: striving for identity and relationship to others
  • Proposition 4: the search for meaning
  • Proposition 5: anxiety as a condition of living
  • Proposition 6: awareness of death

What is the existential approach?

The existential approach is philosophical, in the first place.

It concerns understanding the position of people in the world and clarifying what it means to be alive.

The philosophical perspective views human nature as open-ended, fluid, and worthy of a wide array of knowledge.

What are the four givens of existence?

In 1980, Irvin Yalom described the four human experiences “givens” that have become the foundation for the sector.

This page provided you a detailed note on existential therapy and the techniques used in existential therapy.

The blog also explained the limitations of this therapy. If you have any questions or queries regarding this blog, let us know through your comments.

We will be glad to assist you.


Existential Therapy: Make Your Own Meaning by Courtney E. Ackerman (2019)

Existential Psychotherapy – GoodTherapy

How Do Existential Therapy Techniques Work? | Regain



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