What is Existential Psychotherapy?

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The London Practice
May 28, 2024

What is Existential Psychotherapy?

Existential psychotherapy is a deeply philosophical approach to therapy that delves into the essence of what it means to be human. It's rooted in existential philosophy, and draws on the work of thinkers including Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, and Sartre. They wrestled with life's big questions - the meaning of existence, freedom, and how to live authentically. This isn't just academic, however. It's profoundly relevant to the therapeutic journey.

The human condition

At its heart, existential psychotherapy confronts the universal aspects of the human condition that touch us all - the inevitability of death, the freedom and responsibility of making choices, the search for meaning, and the feeling of existential isolation. There are no easy outs here. Instead, you're invited to explore your personal relationship with these themes.

What's it all about?

Philosophy is a big part of this approach. Existential therapists use philosophical ideas to help you navigate life's challenges, not by bypassing them, but by finding ways to live with them more truthfully. Philosophy poses the questions, and therapy walks you through them.


A key concept here is authenticity-living in a way that's true to yourself, based on existential philosophy. This isn't about just doing whatever you want; it's about making the choices that resonate with who you really are, even when it's hard-and it often is. Life doesn't come with a built-in purpose. It's up to you to find your meaning.


You're also encouraged to face up to your own mortality. Sounds morbid, doesn't it? But acknowledging death can free you to live more fully and value the present. It's a nudge to make every moment count.

Freedom and the responsibility it brings

The notions of freedom and responsibility play a huge part, too. You're free to make your choices, but you're also responsible for them. This can be overwhelming but also empowering. It means your life's direction is in your hands. You're not just drifting along aimlessly.


Existential isolation is another theme. It suggests that, at some level, everyone is alone in their experiences. Depressing? Maybe. But recognising this solitude can lead you to deeper connections with others, as odd as that may sound. It's about finding unity in our collective solitude.

Facing your fears

Embarking on existential psychotherapy requires bravery. You're facing life's toughest questions head-on. But for those who take this path, the rewards can be life changing. It's about finding meaning amidst suffering, freedom within limits, and connection in isolation. It's not about having all the answers but learning to navigate life's uncertainties with dignity.

To summarise, existential psychotherapy blends philosophical inquiry with psychological care. It doesn't avoid the big questions or pretend to have all the solutions. Instead, it offers a space for you to explore, question, and, ultimately, live more authentically. It's more than therapy. It's a way of approaching life.

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