Existential Therapy: Why therapy? Why existential?

Why is Existential Therapy an experience of self-knowledge?

Making the decision to go to a specialist in effective, relational, and mental health is not an easy choice, given the wide range of possibilities for clinical and psychotherapeutic intervention (approximately more than 400 psychotherapeutic techniques, not all of which are endorsed by the International Federation of Psychology, American Psychological and Psychiatric Association) requires an exhausting search on the part of the consultant to match the appropriate therapist and approach, making the experience of beginning the process less encouraging and, in many cases, unpleasant and regrettable in the face of experiences resulting from therapeutic malpractice.

This is one of the reasons why I share this content, because within the official models and endorsed by various internationally renowned organizations, Existential Analysis is one of the newest models and approaches, but therefore not so well known, and many sometimes misunderstood.

Before starting, it is essential that you take this content in a specifically informative way, and take on the task of consulting with the specialist that you consider appropriate and that clarifies your doubts, allowing you the opportunity to know their professional and specialized work in more detail.

Existential Therapy: Why therapy? Why existential?

Why Existential Therapy?

The existential approach therapy is an official psychotherapeutic perspective, with philosophical bases. It is considered an approach because it encompasses a diversity of views and theoretical-practical perspectives; however, this is perhaps your most complex challenge when trying to define it. I will try to define it for you in the simplest way possible.

The philosophical-existential views and perspectives have in common the philosophical work in-depth, and it is characterized by paying greater attention to the experience of the human being, beyond reducing it to a clinical psycho diagnosis, since it is considered that the human being is more than the sum of its parts, that is, it is not limited to its psychology and/or behavior, but is free to decide how it responds to such conditions.

Generally speaking, it deals with people who are in immediate crisis or suffering, however; This is not the only reason for consultation, because when dealing with the dilemmas and tensions present in humanity, the analytical-existential approach accompanies it in various ways, considering as main the following points:

  • Bond and relationship between therapist and patient (relationality)
  • There is no greater importance in temporality (past, present future) however, these times are focused on the immediate choices and decisions in the here and now.
  • The human condition (the pleasant, the pleasant, the negative, the tragic) is the main focus.

Existential Therapy tries to illuminate the way in which each human being constructs, discovers, and sustains his own existence, his destiny.

Why is it called that?

Being an approach with support and philosophical bases, the model it uses is known as the “phenomenological method” which has as its main purpose, trying to capture the experience (phenomenon) of the person and thereby reveal a meaning, response or, as known in psychology, and insight.

This disciplinary model allows the therapist to be more receptive, flexible, and more willing to capture and discover with the client their subjective reality.

How does this type of therapy work?

It works mainly through dialogue and the experience that is revealed in it, between therapist and client. This can be achieved from the phenomenological, hermeneutical, and dialogical methods.

That is why it is a therapy that emphasizes the need to maintain the relationship between the two, take care of it, and provide honesty and empathy, although it maintains a challenging tension in the bond, recognizing the importance of this in the effective result of everything. the therapeutic process.

The above is a challenge mainly for the existential therapist since he must realize the difficulties of not imposing his own perspective, personal experience, own world, and value system above those of the client. The attempt to avoid its appearance and maintenance aims to enable, open, and put on the table, those inconsistent, incongruous, or contradictory points, in the way and form in which each consultant/patient regularly chooses his way of being.

Sometimes existential therapy can be confrontational, uncomfortable, or painful (not by choice of the therapist), since reality is seen as it is for each patient, without hiding aspects of it for the simple fact of avoiding intense emotions or ” unpleasant ” in the querent, since these are the product of the experience and experience of their being-in-the-world and not given by the analyst.

This process is very liberating, as it facilitates in-depth exploration and venting of the consultant’s experience without masks or incentives to minimize it, generating an experience that is as authentic and sincere as possible.

What makes Existential Therapy different from other approaches?

Therapy or Existential Analysis is not only differentiated by the philosophical support it presents but also in that, thanks to the phenomenological attitude and the dialogical disposition, its focus of attention goes beyond the traditional clinical model (not leaving aside the psychodiagnostic when the process is carried out by a health professional trained in existential therapy).

It does not try to “pathologize” the psyche and behavior of the patient, since it enables the person analyzed to take a free and responsible position, allowing the experience to be valued in its entirety and not only the features that accompany it.

This makes the existential perspective permeate the entire human experience of each client.

Furthermore, this approach makes it clear that it is not useful to try to avoid relieving symptoms immediately or with the naive goal of achieving it at the request of the client; on the contrary, unlike most approaches, the existential perspective does not fear the expression of “uncomfortable or unpleasant” symptoms such as anxiety, fear, deep sadness (misnamed depression, although, if it were depression in clinical terms in itself, it also leaves the doors open) or rage, which, in this perspective, are recognized for their rich endowment of meaning and potential value as responses to the context and biography of each human being.

Thus, Existential Analysis seeks to explore the experience with the symptoms that are present, even if they are intense or even disturbing; you keep trying to get to know and discover them, rather than eliminate and avoid them at all costs.

The main purpose of Existential Therapy is the knowledge, exploration, clarification, and recognition of the experience instead of just trying to explain it, interpret it, or try to “cure” the experiences of each person.

Why resort to Existential Therapy?

As you may have noticed, existential therapy allows participants to know through exploration their lived experiences but doing it in an honest, sincere, and understanding way.

Through exploration in conjunction with the therapist, the consultant can see with greater clarity the different perspectives of the same experience and the meanings that are revealed from these. Both the most complex and philosophical challenges, as well as the most rudimentary and everyday experiences, are linked in each therapeutic process with the commitment of understanding, challenging and challenging, allowing the person the opportunity to accept and be responsible for their experience, from a more resilient attitude and flexible with which you are able to modify and design your subsequent project, with a view to the near future.

These are the phenomena for which an existential consultation is a good option :

  • Anguish and anxiety
  • Fear of death or the grieving process
  • Existential emptiness / meaninglessness
  • Crisis due to illness, accidents or radical changes in your way of life
  • Loss of status, employment, financial constraints
  • Suffering
  • Fault
  • Anticipatory anxiety
  • Break in family, social and emotional ties
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Freedom and Responsibility
  • Difficulty deciding between two or more circumstances
  • Fear of life
  • Radical isolation and relational avoidance
  • Lack of creativity
  • Tragic and unavoidable situations


Existential Therapy: Why therapy? Why existential?