Existential psychotherapy acknowledges the fact that each of us is faced with universal anxiety in relation to the four fundamental issues of existence: inevitability of death, the issue of freedom and personal responsibility, the concept of the meaning and purpose in life, and the notion of the existential isolation. The therapy focuses on bringing these issues into awareness and exploring the many ways they influence one’s life.
Therapeutic relationship is considered crucial to the process of therapy. Genuine collaboration between the therapists and the client is encouraged and the authentic human encounter is cultivated. The therapist doesn’t try to promote change but rather understand and explore the client’s lived experience. One of the aims of therapy is to make the client’s values and beliefs conscious so that their exploration is facilitated. Thus, the possible maladaptive cognitions, emotions and behaviours can be exposed.
Existential psychotherapy normalises anxiety as a reaction to unavoidable human suffering and uncertainty. It stresses the importance of personal choice and responsibility and celebrates the capacity of each individual to create their own meaning in life. Finally, this type of therapy is not particularly interested in the client’s past but rather focuses on their experience in the here and now.