Existential Therapy: Why Therapy? Why Existential?

Existential Therapy: Why therapy?  Why existential?

Making the decision to go to a specialist in affective, relational and mental health is not a simple choice, because given the wide range of possibilities for clinical and psychotherapeutic intervention (approximately more than 400 psychotherapeutic techniques, not all of which are endorsed by the International Federation of Psychology, the American Psychological and Psychiatric Association) an exhausting search is required on the part of the consultant to match with the appropriate therapist and approach, making the experience of beginning the process less encouraging and, in many cases, unpleasant and regrettable. in the face of experiences resulting from therapeutic malpractice.

This is one of the reasons why I share this content, because within the official models and endorsed by various internationally renowned organizations, Existential Analysis is one of the most innovative models and approachesbut therefore not as well known, and often misunderstood.

Before starting, it is essential that you take this content in a specifically informative way, and take on the task of consulting with the specialist that you consider appropriate and that they clarify your doubts, allowing you the opportunity to learn about their professional and specialized work in more detail.

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Why Existential Therapy?

Existential approach therapy is an official psychotherapeutic perspective, with philosophical bases. It is considered an approach because it encompasses a diversity of theoretical-practical views and perspectives; However, this is perhaps its most complex challenge when trying to define it. I will try to define it for you in the simplest way possible.

The existential-philosophical views and perspectives have in common philosophical work in depth, and It is characterized by paying greater attention to the experience of the human being, beyond reducing it to a clinical psychodiagnosis.since it is considered that the human being is more than the sum of its parts, that is, it is not limited to its psychology and/or behavior, but is free to decide how it responds to such conditions.

Generally speaking, it deals with people who are suffering from a crisis or immediate suffering however; This is not the only reason for consultation, since when dealing with the dilemmas and tensions present in humanity, the analytical-existential approach accompanies in various ways, considering the following points as main points:

  • Therapist-patient bond and relationship (relationality)
  • There is no greater importance in temporality (past, present future), however, these times are focused on immediate choices and decisions in the here and now.
  • The human condition (the pleasant, the pleasant, the negative, the tragic) is the main focus.
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Existential Therapy attempts to illuminate the way in which each human being constructs, discovers and sustains their own existence, their destiny..

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Why is it called that?

Being an approach with support and philosophical bases, The model used is known as the “phenomenological method.” whose main purpose is to try to capture the experience (phenomenon) of the person and thereby reveal a meaning, response or, as it is known in psychology, an insight.

This disciplinary model allows the therapist to be more receptive, flexible and more willing to capture and discover their subjective reality with the client.

Existential therapy
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How does this type of therapy work?

It works mainly through dialogue and the experience that is revealed in it., between therapist and consultant. This can be achieved from the phenomenological, hermeneutic and dialogic method.

That is why it is a therapy that emphasizes the need to maintain the relationship between both, take care of it, and provide honesty and empathy, although it maintains a challenging tension in the bond, recognizing its importance in the effective result of everything. the therapeutic process.

The above is a challenge mainly for the existential therapist, since he must realize the difficulties of do not impose your own perspective, personal experience, own world and value system above those of the consultant. The attempt to avoid its appearance and maintenance aims to enable, open and put on the table, those inconsistent, incongruent or contradictory points, in the manner and form in which each consultant/patient habitually chooses their way of being.

Sometimes existential therapy can be confrontational, uncomfortable, or painful (not by the therapist’s choice), since esees reality as it is for each patient, without hiding aspects of it for the simple fact of avoiding intense or “unpleasant” emotions. in the consultant, since these are a product of the experience and experience of his being-in-the-world and not given by the analyst.

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This process is very liberating, as it facilitates relief and in-depth exploration of the client’s experience without masks or incentives that minimize it, generating an experience that is as authentic and sincere as possible.

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What makes Existential Therapy different from other approaches?

Therapy or Existential Analysis is not only differentiated by the philosophical support it presents, but also by the fact that, thanks to the phenomenological attitude and the dialogical disposition, its focus goes beyond the traditional clinical model (not leaving aside psychodiagnosis when the process is carried out by a health professional trained in existential therapy).

It does not try to “pathologize” the patient’s psyche and behavior, as it enables the analyzed person to take a free and responsible stance, allowing the experience to be assessed in its entirety and not just the features that accompany it.

This makes the existential perspective permeate the entire human experience of each consultant.

Furthermore, this approach makes it evident that it is not useful to try to avoid alleviating symptoms immediately or with the naive goal of achieving it at the client’s request; On the contrary, unlike most approaches, the existential perspective does not fear the expression of “uncomfortable or unpleasant” symptoms such as anguish, fear, deep sadness (misnamed depression, although, if it were depression in clinical terms itself, it also leaves the doors open) or rage, which, in this perspective, are recognized for their rich endowment of meaning and potential value as responses to the context and the biography of each human being.

This is how Existential Analysis seeks to explore the experience with the symptoms that are present, even if they are intense or even disturbing; it remains in the attempt to know and discover them, rather than eliminate them and avoid them at all costs.

The main purpose of Existential Therapy is the knowledge, exploration, clarification and recognition of experience instead of just trying to explain it, interpret it or try to “cure” each person’s experiences.

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Why resort to Existential Therapy?

As you may have noticed, existential therapy allows participants to learn about their lived experiences through exploration, but doing so in an honest, sincere and understanding manner.

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Through joint exploration with the therapist, the client can look more clearly at the various perspectives of the same experience and the meanings that are revealed from them. Both the most complex and philosophical challenges and the most rudimentary and everyday experiences are linked in each therapeutic process with the commitment to understanding, challenging and challenging, enabling the person the opportunity to accept and be responsible for their experiencefrom a more resilient and flexible attitude with which you are able to modify and design your subsequent project, with a view to the near future.

These are the phenomena for which existential consultation is a good option:

  • Anguish and anxiety
  • Fear of death or grieving process
  • Existential emptiness / lack of meaning
  • Crisis due to illness, accidents or radical changes in your way of life
  • Loss of status, employment, financial limitations
  • Suffering
  • Blame
  • Anticipatory anxiety
  • Breakdown in family, social and emotional ties
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Freedom and Responsibility
  • Difficulty deciding between two or more circumstances
  • Fear of life
  • Radical isolation and relational avoidance
  • Lack of creativity
  • Tragic and inevitable situations


Although this article has been written to be understood in a simple way, the aspects that support Existential Analysis are much more complex than what is shared here. This specialty requires preparation of years of professional study, requiring that the therapist have, at a minimum, a profession in the areas of health and philosophy, in addition to a postgraduate degree in Existential Philosophy with a phenomenological-hermeneutical perspective.

The existential perspective is recognized worldwide as one of the most challenging, complex and innovative approaches, since its constitution occurs through empirical research starting in the second half of the 20th century; However, it encompasses the base of anthropological studies and even ancient knowledge that philosophy has contributed to humanity and will continue to contribute in the 21st century.

Lewis Alcantara

Lewis Alcantara

Clinical Psychology and Philosophy Specialist

Verified Professional
Mexico City
Online therapy
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If after what you just read new questions and questions have arisen, how wonderful! Part of the objective has been achieved, since this is a philosophical and reflective invitation, questions being the first step of the journey.

If you consider that the current situations in your life raise more questions that you do not know how to answer and you want to face this challenge, you can contact me to explore and reveal this experience together in the interest of discovering your way of being-in-it. world.