You are here

Existential Therapy Header

Existential therapy puts the client as a philosophical being first. By focusing on free will and an intrinsic search for meaning it helps clients make rational decisions and reinvent themselves due to the constant changes present in life. Clients will learn how to deal with uncertainty and conflict. Use the tools and extracts below to learn how to use existential therapy with your clients.

Want to share these resources with your students? Bookmark this page, save it to your VLE, and add the page URL to your reading list!


Questioning Assumptions

Questioning Assumptions

Questioning is done in a spirit of curiosity, not in a spirit of criticism.

It helps us be aware of our own bias and prejudice. Read about four different levels of assumptions and try the exercise to see how aware you are.

Who are you?

Who are you?

Clients are entitled to have a therapist who has grappled with the issues and questions that life raises and to know that they will not impose their own views and opinions on them.

Emmy van Deurzen and Martin Adams help you understand yourself to become a better therapist.

Zhi Mian

Zhi Mian

It can be easy to ignore facing reality. Zhi Mian dares you to face life as it is, no matter how blood drenched it might be.

Directly facing reality provides clients with an opportunity to make the most of their lives.


Music Icon Existential Songs: Ten to Singalong to

There were 235 nominations for the key existential song, with enormous variation across the different respondents. In terms of artists, the most commonly nominated were (in descending order): Bob Dylan, Pink Floyd, The Beatles, Leonard Cohen, Talking Heads, David Bowie, Bruce Springsteen, John Lennon, Radiohead, and Simon and Garfunkel. The top ten nominated songs, in descending order, were:

  1. Once in a Lifetime (Talking Heads, 1981) ‘The words say something familiar to me’.

  2. Imagine (John Lennon, 1971) ‘A generation’s mass conscious, hope and vision of a world of unity and peace’.

  3. Time (Pink Floyd, 1973) ‘A powerful statement about the fleetingness of life’.

  4. Somewhere Over the Rainbow (Eva Cassidy, 2001/Izzy, 2010/Jeff Beck, 2007) ‘So full of angst it’s deadly’.

  5. Like a Rolling Stone (Bob Dylan, 1965)

  6. Blowin’ in the Wind (Bob Dylan, 1962) ‘The sense of the cosmic, the enigmatic, and the call for a vital response – beyond the canned and the programmatic, to great human predicaments’.

  7. Darkness on the Edge of Town (Bruce Springsteen, 1978) ‘About trying to create meaning and survive in the face of despair’.

  8. My Way (Frank Sinatra, 1969)

  9. Hope There’s Someone (Antony and the Johnsons, 2005)

  10. Hallelujah (Leonard Cohen, 1984)

This Top 10 songlist can be accessed as a YouTube playlist, search ‘Existential Songs: The Top 10’. The full list of nominated songs is also available as a YouTube playlist, search ‘Existential songlist’.

Extract taken from Existential Psychotherapy and Counselling by Mick Cooper