Existential therapist

Existential Therapy

Existential psychotherapy is a unique form of therapy that looks to explore difficulties clients encounter from a philosophical perspective, which emphasises the unfolding nature of human experience and the importance of inter-relational aspects of it. It enables the individual to examine the role of personal choices within their life, take responsibility for them, and come to terms with their individual limitations. Existential therapy is an organic process that aims to reveal the way individuals create and live their lives and is suitable for working with all aspects of human experience, from broader problems, such as lack of meaning in life, relationship difficulties, to more specific issues, such as social anxiety, obsessive behaviours and addictions. 

While some of my clients come with clear questions they want to address, others find it hard to explain why they reached out in the first place. Articulating expectations and goals of therapy is part of the process. Occasionally, defining the aim of therapy by itself can facilitate change and help the client gain sufficient clarity. 

The existential psychotherapist will not focus on fancy techniques, theories, and procedures for providing therapy; rather, the therapist will endeavour to be congruent and genuine in the relationship with the client and view the process as an exploration of the unknown territories which eventually could lead to the better understanding of previously unrecognised aspects of life, and the improvement in the client’s quality of life, relationships and emotional wellbeing. From the point of view of existential therapy, forming the therapeutic alliance and being with the client in a certain way plays a more significant role in therapy than any specific manipulative or re-educational technique that aims to modify the client’s behaviour.

Existential Therapy
Existential Therapy

Therapeutic Relationship

A therapeutic relationship is vital in existential therapy: the therapist deliberately abandons the position of distant expert or mentor who will advise you through tough personal situations; instead, the therapist is a fellow human who has also encountered struggles and difficult feelings in their life and aims to guide others through the process of accepting and living with the inevitabilities of human existence. 

I see therapy as merely a dialogue between two people where one of them is focused on listening actively to and talking about another, however, both of them can and often do learn from each other. Acceptance and respect for the client paired with the therapist’s openness and congruence can facilitate the shift in the client’s understanding and unfolding of the horizon of different possibilities and help them develop more authentic relationships with other people – in their life outside of therapy. The task of each therapist is to have attained sufficient clarity, self-awareness, and authenticity in their own life in order to be fully available for the exploration of the client’s situation.

Recognition of Clients as Unique Individuals

Existential psychotherapists avoid advising, guiding, and judging clients or their choices. This approach does not encourage diagnosing and labelling clients. It does not characterise thoughts and behaviours as ‘symptoms’, which clients have to get rid of, or as evidence of a mental disorder or illness. 

Existential therapy does not recognise universal treatment methods or sets of practices – it considers each person to be unique with their distinctive experience. The therapist strives to understand the client in the context of their life circumstances and experiences. A new therapy is created for each client. People have different beliefs and assumptions about their life, which often limit their worldview – the therapist will invite the client to question the credibility of these beliefs while being equally prepared to challenge their own attitudes. In doing so, the light is shed on the unknown and the unfelt – this widens the client’s perspective, helps them to be more open-minded and flexible.

Existential Therapy
Existential Therapy


All human beings experience the fundamental givens of life: mortality, isolation, meaninglessness, and freedom, which are inseparable from responsibility for the choices we make. Existential therapy explores the nature of the anxiety we experience when we face those life’s givens. As a result, we can learn to accept this existential anxiety, which in turn will enable us to live our life more enthusiastically, creatively, and authentically. 

Existential therapy focuses on uncovering one’s true values, passions, and desires. Authentic living is living in line with those values while being aware of and open to our innermost possibilities and limitations. In therapy, we endeavour to recognise the moments when we feel authentic and genuine when we are true to ourselves and true to life. It helps us find clarity of what our purpose in life is. We grapple with our daily challenges, feel unease, and experience existential guilt – feel indebted to ourselves – if we don’t fulfil this purpose. 

The therapist will help the client uncover the paradoxes of life and acknowledge their vulnerabilities and the uncertainties in life. It takes a lot of courage and strength to face these uncertainties and live your life to the fullest while coming to terms with its limitations. You won’t be alone with this in therapy.