Why Existential Psychotherapy Ignores The Past

Existential psychotherapy is a system of therapy for the mind which relies on asking questions about the present and future, rather than going back into the past.

As such, it can be considered to be an incomplete therapy, and only usable in situations where a mental disorder is not directly attributable to difficulties in the past.

Where this is proven to be the case, the therapy can help in giving the patient enough insight to be able to make choices for their future, and the belief that those choices are the right ones.

psychotherapy approaches

The therapy takes place, as with so many of the alternative therapies, with the patient and the practitioner siting opposite each other in a room which is designed to be comfortable and calming. The essential feature of the room is that it should be a setting in which the patient is able to feel comfortable enough to express themselves fully and hold nothing back.

Any therapy is only as good as the interaction which can be developed between the patient and the practitioner. This therapy is best performed in a one on one situation, although group therapy can be used in situations where the aims of different elements within the group are similar.

There are some differences in the way practitioners carry out the actual therapy, and the best therapists will always be willing to adjust their approach depending on reactions from the patient.

If there are visible signs of anguish from the patient, for example, it may be necessary to stay away from certain subject matter for the time being, or it may even be necessary to switch to a completely different type of therapy.

There are therapies which work with past memories and the emotional charges attached to them, and these would clearly be needed in this type of case.


The principles of existential psychotherapy are not taught as a separate discipline within the American college system, but as part of the overall discipline of psychotherapy.

This gives the would be practitioner the chance to compare the techniques used with those of other related therapies, and to make the best choice for their future career.

Some will specialize in one type of therapy, while others will use several in the course of their work, and try to match the right therapy to each patient.

The comprehensive education is enough to gain you a license to practice in the state in which you are intending to work.

The training which you need to do as a therapist can begin with a college course taken on campus in the traditional manner, or it can start with online learning. Obviously, it is not going to be possible to train for interactive therapy work purely through online study, but you can gain the preliminary understanding of the subject and obtain your license without the need for extensive practical demonstration.

This means that it is possible to become a psychotherapist even if you have to maintain another career while you are studying, and have a young family to look after.

The techniques of existential psychotherapy are not well known outside the profession, so there is only limited reading material outside of the specialist publications and related online content.

If you are not yet fully qualified in psychotherapy, you may find some of this material heavy going.

Your best course of action is to find a high quality primer on psychotherapy as a whole, because that will help you to gain a greater understanding of all of the techniques used within modern psychotherapy, including existential psychotherapy.

Author: Marc Knox






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