We have all probably heard that therapists always like to look into our past to find out what is wrong with us. Many think that anything wrong with our psyche is due to how we were raised or something we witnessed as a child. Existential therapy is the opposite of that. It is a form of therapy that concentrates on your whole life in the here and now as well as our identity. It is used to treat many different psychological, emotional, or behavioral conditions.
How it All Began
Existential therapy can be traced back to the 1800s, but it was Rollo May who brought it to the psychological world. He was an existential psychologist who was also an accomplished writer. In fact, he became famous for writing over a dozen books such as The Art of Counseling, The Meaning of Anxiety, and Love and Will. Rollo May had a troubled childhood with a sister that was schizophrenic who he was often left to care for due to his parents’ self-involvement and neglect. It may have been the fact that his own troubled past did not cause mental issues in himself that made him focus on a different way to look at treating mental conditions.
Philosophy of Existentialism
This style of psychology is influenced by philosophy and reflect on philosophers such as Tillich, Buber, Kierkegaard, and Nietzsche. The best way to understand existential therapy is by knowing what existentialism is. Those who believe in existentialism emphasize each individual’s choice, freedom, and existence. In other words, we all define our own meaning in life, and we try to make the best decisions we can in a confusing world. Existential therapy believes in this and concentrates on how each individual can overcome their own issues through internal wisdom, free will, and being responsible for our own lives.
You Cannot Blame Everything on Your Past
This does not mean that you have to take care of your mental health on your own. It just means that blaming your past for your future is not going to help. Although your past does have something to do with your early development, it cannot be blamed for the mistakes you make when you are an adult. Counselors who practice existential therapy does not just ignore your history, though. They use it as a tool to help you realize that you are not defined by your past. In other words, just because you were abused as a child does not mean that you will be an abuser or a victim all your life.
Facing the Facts
Another theory of existential therapy is that you have to face your existence as well as your demise. This is the only way to come to terms with your present and future. The four items that this theory focuses on include:
- Responsibility and freedom
- Existential isolation
Many of us do not like to think about the fact that we will not be around forever, and instead just avoid thinking about death at all. It is this fear of what is inevitable that these theorists believe are holding you back from your true potential. According to existential therapists who use this theory, facing the fact that we are all going to die someday is extremely freeing and liberating.
The Four Realms
According to many who use existential therapy, there are four levels of existence and experience that we all have to face. These four realms, as they call them, are what help you orient yourself toward the world and your own realities. These four realms include:
- Physical Realm: This focuses on our bodily needs and our physical being, looking at the world you share with all physical beings like animals and all other nature. It includes your sleep, waking cycles, relief, desire, and feelings. Also included are your birth and death.
- Social Realm: This part of your world is focused on your relationships with others. It also includes emotions, society, culture, language, and your attitude toward family, race, and authority.
- Personal Realm: Personal strengths and weaknesses as well as characteristics, sense of self, and identity are what make up this realm. Anything that has to do with your authenticity, intimacy, and self are what really matter here.
- Making Realm: This last realm is what they consider your ideal world. It is where we consider our beliefs, values, religion, and transformation. It is actually considered to be the realm of transcendence.
Talk to Someone Today
The existential type of counseling can help with anxiety, depression, and many other types of mental issues that you may be trying to deal with. Existential therapy teaches you to examine yourself, your world, and those around you to face your issues on your own. However, it takes a professional counselor or therapist to lead you through this type of therapy. If you think this type of therapy can help you, contact a mental health care professional as soon as you can. Why wait? Online therapy is available without an appointment, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. From the comfort of your own home. Contact ReGain.us today to get started.
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