Existential Psychotherapy

I do not consider all of existential philosophy and existential therapy of value. Here I outline some of the concepts that I value and use in my work.

Kierkegaard  –  argued (in part)  that truth could only be experienced subjectively by the individual in action. What was most lacking was people’s capacity to  live with passion from the inward depth of existence. This involved a constant struggle between the rational and intellectual aspects of our ideas and those other parts of mind that were perhaps built for application in nature. In this struggle human beings are involved in the creation of self and in creating for themselves, meaning.

Nietzsche – in asserting that god was dead was actually arguing that it is up to human beings to re-evaluate existence in light of this. In other words, that it is for each person to create their own existence, its sense of purpose and meaning and value.

Martin Heidegger – argued that literature, art, poetry and philosophical thinking could help a person have (what he called), insight in a more profound way than could science, and that by hermeneutics ( the philosophical method of investigation by interpretation), seek to understand how an individual subjectively experiences something, this being quite different to psychoanalysis which consists of referring a person’s experience to a pre-established theoretical framework, (a pretence of objectivity).

Jean-Paul Sartre – argued for the importance  of an individual’s place in a social and political world.

In my application of  some of the ideas adapted from existential therapy I help the individual, couple, or family system, explore their sense of self and sense of other and sense of culture in a subjective way while at same time attempting to help them join their obvious, superficial, intellectual, thinking  with those other parts of their other thinking (characterised by the notion of feelings and emotions). Thus I argue that emotions and feelings are not mere emotions (drives or motivations) but are  another aspect of the mind’s thinking and further, that these, ‘other thinkings’,  are indeed profound  ideas, notions, conjectures, though often they are not experienced in language as we know or define it. Also I hold that emotions and feelings are ‘other thinkings’ that are in fact ‘conclusions’. The end product of a deeper processing of information.  In reflecting on these ‘conclusions’ the individual has the possibility of seeing the processes not just the ‘conclusions and in this way have the opportunity to  apply rational thought to them. In a way I help clients give thoughts feelings, even gut feelings and instincts, a rational voice, a language.