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Existential Philosophy


The current stage of the philosophy focuses on theories, which find their roots at the beginning of the human evolution of thought. Existentialism is a philosophical approach which supports the concept of ‘self’ by combining it with such features as individualism, responsibility, autonomy, and freedom. It is a significant part of human evolution, which plays a role of a linking element in the development of morality, ethics, and the whole meaning of human behavior. The following discussion reveals the main concepts originating from existentialism, models of existential therapy, existential therapeutic practice in terms of feminism, post-colonialism, and cultural theory, its role in counseling and psychotherapy, and an overall effectiveness of existential therapy from the contemporary point of view. 

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Existential Therapy, Skills, and Models of Working with a Client

The existential therapy uses a complex approach that helps a counsellor to aid the patient in discovering the problems bothering the mind. However, it is hard to outline a specific set of skills that each counselor should develop. Each case is unique, which requires the development of specific techniques being helpful in terms of the patient’s situation (Tajima, 2014). If I were to use the existential therapy with a client, I would help the patient focus on his or her current choices without retrospection to the past. The patient should feel comfortable in his or her current state of mind without any self-judgment, fear, or dissatisfaction (Gordon, 2012). The patient should start enjoying life from time to time without feeling limits or borders of choice (Çivitci, 2010).

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Existential Therapeutic Practice in Terms of Feminism, Postcolonialism, and Cultural Theory

The feministic approach in existentialism promotes equal relations among individuals, supports equality of rights, and claims that freedom of choice is a natural ability of every human. It broadens gender roles to the extent of mutual equality and interdependence. In terms of post-colonialism, the existential therapy considers that it is inappropriate to obey someone or follow someone’s rules. It denies all stereotypes, standards, or principles, which may set limits on human existence. In terms of the cultural theory, the existential therapy obtains the meaning of equality regulator, setting equal terms of cultural values. The cultural theory in combination with existentialism allows a patient to feel free in following any cultural aspects. It does not involve any prejudices or judgments and allows the patient to feel free in any form of cultural behavior.

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Existential Philosophy and Phenomenological Side of It

Existentialism is a philosophical approach toward the understanding of the human nature, which focuses on a human as an individual, his meaning of life, freedom, human rights, and responsibility. Existentialism is a philosophy that examines the point of human existence and a complex of ideas that existence has no purpose or meaning (Chan, Fung & Chien, 2013). This approach does not support the belief in God or any other supernatural power, which could be the source of human existence. A phenomenological part of existentialism examines the point of human life from its internal state of mind without paying attention to the external factors that may affect it (Schalk, 2011). Phenomenological existentialism considers that creativity of human mind is the only possible source of human creation and development, which does not have any relation to a supernatural power (van Deurzen, 2014). It suggests that an individual should not obey any laws, standards, and other philosophies (Vitali, 2014). Existentialism supports the idea that consciousness must be the only source of human choices and freedom, which means that an individual is the only one responsible for the consequences of his or her actions (Tugrul Mart, 2012).  

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Existential Therapy in Counseling and Psychotherapy

The existential therapy is an approach combined with a philosophical point of view that considers that every individual is free and is independent in making choices according to the personal freedom and responsibility ('Existential-humanistic therapy', 2010). The existential therapy targets such goals as bringing peace to one’s mind, developing patience, and enhancing self-awareness (Sebastian et al., 2008). The feeling of helplessness is a common phenomenon among patients, which is the result of the limited self-knowledge (van Deurzen, 2014). The lack of self-awareness is the main source of fear and uselessness, which penetrate human mind while facing a difficult problem (Price, 2011). The existential therapy outlines the patient’s current state of mind by evaluation of feelings, emotions, and thoughts. In general, the therapy is a source of useful methods that create a harmonious co-existence between the patient and the external environment (Ulrichová, 2012).

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From the perspective of psychotherapy, existentialism is a significant part of the patient’s intention to investigate the world by asking questions and understanding the concept of ‘self’ (Ziv-Beiman, 2013). It helps a patient find an appropriate solution to the problems, which seem to be too complicated and unbearable. Psychotherapy helps patients combat the feeling of uselessness and live according to freedoms and personal responsibility by realizing that there are no mistakes in making choices as long as there is no standard for the decision-making (McGinn, 1997).

Existential Therapeutic Effectiveness and the Limitations of Therapy

From the perspective of counseling and psychotherapy, it is possible to apply existential therapy methods and approaches to the diversity of patients, including a single individual, a group, a couple, or a family (Adams, 2013). The efficiency of such a therapy is that it does not deny any choice taken by an individual. The main difficulty and limitation in the measurement and consideration of the effectiveness of existential therapy is that it is impossible to call it an ultimate approach, which can help solve the patient’s problem (Harris, 2013). In general, it is possible to mention that existential philosophy is a form of therapy that can be the most appropriate help in looking for appropriate decision by understanding personal state of mind (Wild, 2011). Moreover, existential philosophy is the best solution in helping patients suffering from suicidal intentions caused by the problem of looking for the meaning of existence (Fegg et al., 2013).

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