Existential therapy – why should I choose this over other interventions?
Existential therapy offers a refreshing approach of understanding the concerns and challenges of being human. As we live our lives, challenges and obstacles bring us face to face with a growing awareness that there is uncertainty and change all around. Modern living encourages us to become more organised, seek ways to reduce our anxiety and concerns, as if they were impediments to living a normal life. Whilst techniques and strategies aimed at reducing anxiety or alleviating mood can be enormously valuable, they are often temporary solutions to the bigger questions of living.
Many people, despite achieving much in their lives, are left with a gnawing anxiety: ‘Isn’t there more to life?’ When these questions are asked, opportunity exists to explore more fully what it is ‘to live’ rather than ‘make a living’. Ask yourself ‘When I look back at the end of my life, what will I think of how I lived? What was it all about? Will I believe I have lived and loved fully? The author Brendan Burchard implores us to ask at the end of our lives ‘Did I live? Did I love? Did I matter?’
Existential therapy is an opportunity to work with a therapist who, instead of pathologising symptoms and mental health conditions, sees them as responses to the inevitable challenges of being human, despite their pain. Anxiety, depression, panic attacks, obsessive-compulsive behaviour are seen as signs and signals of how the sufferer is living in the world against the backcloth of the undeniable responsibility we have for ‘how to live’. And the way society dictates we should live may not be what you want for yourself. It is a journey that not only introduces you fully to yourself but one which invites you to live fully and purposefully – on your terms – not those dictated to by social, social conditions or culture. Every professionally trained existential therapist will have journeyed in their own existential therapy, highlighting the importance of them, as human existents, embracing their own existential dilemmas. Existential therapy is different from other modalities, not only philosophically but sees all theories of ‘why we do things’ as not fixed and absolute – often valuable but even potentially fixing the human condition in way that ignores the uniqueness of our personal journey.