Existential Counselling & Psychotherapy
The frame of reference for Existential counselling is philosophical rather than medical, social or psychological. It focuses on life rather than the personality.
It is seen as a process of exploration of what can make life meaningful. If a client simply wants to get rid of the symptom or solve a particular problem without this touching on the rest of their existence, clients will not be served well by an existential approach.
The questions addressed are the questions all human beings ask themselves. What does it mean to be alive? Who am I? What is the purpose of my existence? What can I hope to achieve? Is happiness possible? What is expected of me? Is it possible to understand life and get a grip on it? Is it necessary to suffer this much?
Existential therapists base their interventions with clients on a careful consideration of human issues and on the clarification of what it means to be alive. Existential work is about understanding and clarifying what is problematic for an individual and enabling clients to tackle their problems in a creative and courageous manner.
The philosophical themes that are drawn upon to widen the clients perspective are:
- Death and nothingness
- Anxiety and despair
- Absurdity and meaning
- Authenticity and inauthenticity
- Choice and responsibility
- Moods and emotions
- Truth and self deception
There is no one particular therapeutic approach to existential psychotherapy, however there are some commonalities, such as:
- To help clients become more authentic, to acknowledge the reality of their lived existence.
- To work with concrete experiences.
- To acknowledge and act on their own freedom and responsibility.
- To learn from discomforting experiences such as anxiety, guilt, despair.
- To explore their present and future experiences as well as their past ones.
- Being genuine and direct as a therapist.
- Be Flexible and adaptable as a therapist.
Phenomenology is an investigation and is based on the premise that all human experience is based on intentionality. That means that all human actions, intentions, thoughts and feelings have an object. Human experience is never to be seen in isolation. Every situation is therefore subjectively, situational and contextually determined. We need to learn how our subjectivity & our particular point of view on the world affect the way in which we see things.
Phenomenology draws the person away from the habit of unconsciousness that is the natural attitude, we can then focus anew on what is there. Hence we set aside usual interpretation, prejudice and judgements so that we can see things afresh. There is a focus on the phenomenon that is being confronted at a given time and we begin to look for the very essence of the phenomenon that is being faced. This will bring me face to face with my self.
In following this exploration there is a clearer conception of and come closer to both the world I relate to and the self which is created in the process of relating.
To find out more use the contact form here.