Existential therapy, also referred to as existential psychotherapy, is a form of therapy based both existential philosophy and existential psychology. Therapy has its adepts worldwide and occurs especially in several countries in Europe, the U.S., Mexico, and Australia.
Existential therapy has been trying scientifically to find a variant of the humanistic therapy modalities which would be evidence-based and effective in parity with other forms of therapy.
Particularly good results have been demonstrated for depressed clients, the clients victims of trauma and abuse, for health-related problems, somato-psychic, as well as marriage and relationship problems.
The Existential psychotherapy focuses an individual on the life he or she lives and tries to help the patient understand how his mental suffering is related to the way of living and relating to his existence and its challenges.
The therapy often starts when the patient is experiencing a crisis in his live and wants help to get a perspective on and respond in new ways to a difficult situation. The therapist’s role is to empathically monitor and support the patient in his detailed narrative of his life, and to challenge the patient to interpret and understand his problems in the light of existential basic subjects. This is about choices and challenging, values and meaning acts, freedom, and how the patient takes advantage of the opportunities with respect for his limitations and his vulnerability.
The therapy has both short-term goals (to relieve the symptomatic pain and restore lost power and function) as long goals (establish new sustainability and ability to live more durable and better in a new era).
The existential psychotherapist’s stance poses a special way to see the patient and to relate to his desire to live well. The Existential psychotherapy does not aim to cure people based on a medical model. Instead of analyzing the human basis of diagnostic categories or use different theories of personality or pathology, existential psychotherapists prefer working from a phenomenological approach with a warm, genuine, and interested psychotherapeutic approach. In existential therapy seen people’s worries and suffering often as welcome signs that they are starting to open up to their existence and that they are trying to deal with philosophical dilemmas. In this suffering, one can find a starting point for efforts to shape a life that one want and can live.
The therapy encourages patients to describe, clarify, and reflect on their life experiences and increase their awareness of their way of looking at and relating to life, world, others and themselves. Through the knowledge and understanding, the patient, according to van Deurzen and Stiwne, has greater influence over his life and is able to find himself or reconsider his direction. The idea is that the client should obtain an understanding of his own attitudes and characteristic pattern experience and an insight on how he or she can be altered by new experiences and new choices.
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