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Born in Ada, Ohio in 1909

B.A from Oberlin college in

Lived as an itinerant artist
in Europe.
Returns to U.S in 1993
Graduates from Union
Theological seminary in 1938
Soren Kierkegaard, the Danish philosopher
and theologian, is usually considered to be
the founder of modern existentialism.

emphasized a balance between freedom

and responsibility.

People acquire freedom of action

by expanding their self-awareness and by
assuming responsibility for their actions
The first tenet of existentialism is that existence take
precedence over essence.
Existentialists oppose the artificial split between
subject and object.
They stress people's search for meaning in their lives
They insist that each of us is responsible for who
we are and what we will become.
Most take an anti-theoretical position, believing
that theories tend to objectify people.
The acquisition of freedom inevitably leads to
anxiety, which can be either pleasurable and
constructive or painful and destructive.
o Normal Anxiety-which is proportionate to the
threat, does not involve repression, and can be
handled on a conscious level.
o Neurotic Anxiety-reaction that is disproportionate
to the threat and that leads to repression and
defensive behaviors. It is felt whenever one's values
are transformed into dogma.
Arises whenever:
people deny their potentialities
fail to accurately perceive the needs of others
remain blind to their dependence on the natural world.
Umwelt Guilt- from nature and develop an innate sense of
Mitwelt Guilt- own experience and accordingly we can only
relate to each other in a limited capacity.
Eigenwelt Guilt- Results from our own limited self-realization.
that gives meaning to experience and allows
people to make decisions about the future.

permits people to overcome the dichotomy

between subject and object, because it
enables them to see that their intentions are a
function of both themselves and their
Care is an active process that suggests that things matter.

Love means to care, to delight in the presence of another

person, and to affirm that person's value as much as one's own
May believed that our modern society has lost
sight of the true nature of love and will,
equating love with sex and will with will
psychologically healthy people are able to
combine love and will because both imply
care, choice, action, and responsibility
Sex have become preoccupied with it
to the point of trivialization.
Eros is a psychological desire that seeks an
enduring union with a loved one. It may
include sex, but it is built on care and
Philia, an intimate nonsexual friendship
between two people, takes time to develop
and does not depend on the actions of the
other person.
Agape is an altruistic or spiritual love that
carries with it the risk of playing God.
Freedom comes from an understanding of our
destiny. We are free when we recognize that
death is a possibility at any moment and when
we are willing to experience changes, even in the
face of not knowing what those changes will
bring. freedom of doing, or freedom of
action/existential freedom.
freedom of being, or an inner freedom/essential

Destiny as "the design of the universe speaking

through the design of each one of us.
The Power of Myth
The Oedipus myth has had a powerful effect
on our culture because it deals with such
common existential crises.

Is a lack of connectedness and an inability to fulfill
ones destiny.
Friedrich Nietzsche and Kierkegaard. Kierkegaard, being one
of the first existential philosophers.

They , theorized that discontent, could only be overcome

or fulfilled by internal wisdom.

1900s other philosophers began to investigate the

interpretation and healing processes of this field. other fellow
contemporaries and acknowledged the importance of
experiencing and understanding as a method to achieve
balance in our psychological state and well-being.
The first ever psychologist to adapt to this method
was Otto Rank.

Writings of Rollo May and Paul Tillich & Irvin Yalom made
existential therapy a mainstream approach.

Soon after, British philosophers began to expand

existentialism by the foundation called
"The Philadelphia Association
(an org which helps with psychological issues by
experimental therapies)
a unique form of psychotherapy that looks
to explore difficulties from a philosophical perspective,
rather than taking a technique-based approach.

focuses on free will, self-determination, and the

search for meaningoften centering on you rather than
on the symptom.

Emotional and psychological difficulties are viewed as

inner conflict caused by an individual's confrontation with
the givens of existence, Rather than delve into the past.
Existential psychologists evaluate an individuals experience
in four dimensions of existence: the physical, social,
psychological and spiritual.
They believe that conflict stems from confrontations with the
givens or ultimate concerns of existence. These include:

The inevitability of death

Freedom and the responsibilities associated with it
Existential isolation
What Mental Health Conditions Can
Existential Psychotherapy Treat?

Substance dependency
Posttraumatic stress resulting from exposure
to military combat, interpersonal violence, or
other life-threatening experienced
four different levels of experience and
existence with which people are inevitably
can often help individuals understand the
context of their concerns
person's orientation towards the world and
the four realms defines their reality
1. The physical realm
- centred around physicality
- world we share with animals, the world of bodily needs
- world that stores desire, relief, sleep/awake cycles and nature
- Birth, death and physical feelings/symptoms are also part of
this realm.
2. The social realm
- relationships, culture, society and language are here as
well as work, attitudes towards authority, race and family.
- Emotions, friendships and romantic relationships are also
part of the social world.
3. The personal realm
- concerned with issues of the self
- this includes intimacy (self and others), Identity,
personal characteristics and overall sense of self
- Personal strengths and weaknesses are also
important as well as the question of being authentic.

4. The making realm

- 'ideal' world
- within it are religion, values, beliefs and transformation.
- dimension where we make sense of our lives and is
considered the realm of transcendence.
Accepting Fears and Overcoming
Through Existential Psychotherapy
encourages people to address emotional issues that
theyre facing.
people who undergo this form of therapy are guided to
accept fears.
And given the skills necessary to overcome them
through action
By gaining control of the direction of ones life,
the person in therapy is able to design the course of
his or her choosing.
creates in the individual a sense of liberation and
a feeling of letting go of the despair associated with
insignificance and meaningless.
Accepting Fears and Overcoming
Through Existential Psychotherapy
teaching the person in therapy to grow and embrace
his or her own life and to exist in it with wonder and curiosity.

a person is able to view his or her life experience as a

journey rather than a trial, and can eradicate the fear
associated with death.
Therapists help you find meaning in the face of anxiety by
choosing to think and act responsibly and by confronting
negative internal thoughts rather than external forces like
societal pressures or luck.

Fostering creativity, love, authenticity, and free will are

common avenues that help move you toward

when treating addiction disorders, the existential therapist

coaches you to face the anxiety that tempts you
to abuse substances and guides you to take responsibility.

The goal: You learn to make more willful decisions about

how to live, drawing on creativity and love, instead of
letting outside events determine your behavior.
Procedures of Existential Therapy
The initial phase, counselors assist clients in
identifying and clarifying their assumptions
about the world. Clients are invited to define
and question the ways in which they perceive
and make sense of their existence. The
counselor teaches them how to reflect on
their own existence and to examine their role
in creating their problems in living.
Procedures of Existential Therapy
The middle phase, clients are encouraged to more fully
examine the source and authority of their present
value system. This leads to new insights and some
restructuring of their values and attitudes. Clients get
a better idea of what kind of life they consider worthy
to live and develop a clearer sense of their internal
valuing process.

The final phase, focuses on helping clients take what

they are learning about themselves and put it into
action, to find ways of implementing their examined
and internalized values in a concrete way. Clients
typically discover their strengths and find ways to put
them to the service of living a purposeful existence.
Strengths of Existential therapy
Their ability to enable clients to examine the degree to
which their behavior is influenced by family, culture and
social conditioning.

Can be very useful and practical solution to solve

psychological issues.

It places a lot of emphasis on four different themes; death,

meaningfulness, freedom and isolation.
Weaknesses of Existential therapy

Cannot claim to treat everyone in different ways

if they place them into one of the four themes of

There are some patients whose problems may

not fall into any of the themes.

Psychologists might treat the patient incorrectly

believing they fall into a category they dont
belong to
Common Concerns and Limitations
There is one distinctive, united existential theory which is
free of internal tension and covers all the basic
assumptions of existential psychology.
There is no difference between existential psychology and
existential philosophy.
Existential psychology takes an antireligious or anti-spiritual
approach, for example, denying the existence of God.
Existential and humanistic theories are the same thing.
Existential psychotherapy involves taking a negative, dark,
or pessimistic view of life.
The approach is fundamentally an intellectual one.
It is only beneficial to people of high intellect, who are not
experiencing chronic behavioral or mental health