What Is Existential Counselling?
Existential counselling helps people come to terms with human issues we all face at some time, such as loneliness and isolation, anxiety, death and loss, freedom, choice and responsibility, meanings and values. These are some of the themes which, when we reflect on them, may help us to understand the context of the problems and challenges we face as human beings.
What questions does existential counselling explore?
We might ask questions of ourselves, such as:
- What does it mean to be alive?
- What is my relationship to myself and to other people?
- What are my responsibilities to myself and other people?
- What do I value?
- What is my true potential?
- What would it be like to choose my own way of living?
How does existential therapy help?
Existential therapy explores the unfolding nature of human experience, and brings a curiosity to what it means to be human. It also emphasises the relational aspect of being human i.e. that everything we do is dependent on the context of our lives and the environment we inhabit. It challenges us to make the most of our lives, by facing the choices that lie before us. Then, with increased clarity and insight, we are better equipped to face and solve the issues we experience in life.
Read the book: The most well known existential psychotherapist is Irvin D. Yalom. He has written many books on the subject and writes fiction and non-fiction. A fantastic introduction to his work is Love’s Executioner and Other Tales of Psychotherapy*. Yalom writes about several of his clients, their issues and how he worked with them (using existential psychotherapy). The book is intriguing, involving, gripping and emotional – one of my favourite all time reads. Don’t miss it!