About Existential Psychotherapy - Psychotherapy & Counselling

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About Existential Psychotherapy

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Existential Psychotherapy

Existential psychotherapy evolved from existential philosophers, such as Kierkegaard, Heidegger, Wittgenstein and many others too numerous to mention here

One of the leading authors and teachers of Existential Counselling and Psychotherapy in the UK is Emmy van Deurzen, and much of the work I use with my clients is based upon her work

As human beings, we experience the world at different levels called "dimensions" (van Deurzen, 2002) and existential work explores a person's experience in all of them. Those that can be clearly distinguished are:

  • Physical (the body)

  • Social (the ego and how we feel we relate to others)

  • Personal (the self)

  • Spiritual (how we relate to the beliefs and principles we live by)


On each level or dimension, opportunities, possibilities, predictable limitations and challenges are taken account of; we can follow our own aspirations or create illusions about our own ability or inability to overcome problems or obstacles. By working existentially, we can find a realistic and constructive way to deal with what may seem to us to be paradoxes in the beginning

"Constructing one's life around deeply felt values refocuses attention and enables a new engagement with the world on all dimensions. Purpose and meaning in everyday living enable one to contend with difficulties much greater than one previously thought oneself capable of taking on."

Ref: Van Deurzen, E. (2002) Existential Counselling and Psychotherapy in Practice, Sage Publications pp 92-93)

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