Existential Therapy values the interactive, relational and embodied nature of human consciousness and human existence.
It considers that human beings are free to effect change in their lives in a responsible, deliberate, ethical and thoughtful manner, by understanding their difficulties and by coming to terms with the possibilities and limitations of the human condition in general and of their own lives in particular. It emphasises the importance of finding meaning and purpose by engaging with life at many levels, physical, social, personal and spiritual.
This will include a consideration of existential limits such as death, failure, weakness, guilt, anxiety and despair. There are many forms of Existential Therapy and each has its own specific methods and ways of exploring difficulties and change, but all forms of existential therapy work with dialogue to enable a person to find their own authority in exploring their life and the way they want to live it.
This will often involve a philosophical and ethical exploration of the big questions of human existence, such as truth, meaning, justice, beauty, freedom, consciousness, choice, responsibility, friendship and love. Existential Therapy is a pragmatic and experiential approach which favours embodiment, emotional depth, clarity and directness and which employs the principles of logic, paradox, dialectics, phenomenology and hermeneutic exploration amongst other methods.
Therefore Existential therapists see symptoms as a way of coping with difficulty, a problem, or an existential crisis. It helps people to tolerate and embrace suffering and difficulty to engage with it constructively. Existential therapists are trained in specialist training programs, that require training at post-graduate level and which involve theoretical learning, skills training, practical learning under supervision, a process of personal therapy to learn to apply existential principles in practice and the completion of some form of phenomenological research project or a final project that includes theory and practice.
What is the Existential Approach? What is existential therapy?
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Arnold-Baker, Claire. PSZ JB. Summary Existential Perspectives on Human Issues offers students, teachers and practitioners alike a definitive handbook for the practice of existential psychotherapy. Preface p. Cohn 26 Time and Purpose p.
Bugental 30 A New Ideology p. Select a list.
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