My theoretical perspective for individual therapy is Existentialism. It is not a set of skills or techniques, but a way of being. A philosophy. A stance. A way of seeing life, and thus living life.

Existentialism focuses on the givens of existence. Major issues of focus:

  1. Death
  2. Isolation
  3. Meaning
  4. Freedom

– and the inherent denial of them.

  1. Death: It’s pretty hard to drive down the freeway these days without being in denial about how easy it is to die at any moment.
  2. Isolation: is opposed against togetherness and is a focus of how we balance our social lives, recharge ourselves and that we must face death alone.
  3. Meaning: is about spirituality, lack of it, and why we’re here. It’s related tightly with Isolation.
  4. Freedom: is about how we are always at choice in our reactions and feelings to events around and inside us.

If these words make you nervous, then welcome to the human condition. If you feel them now, then you are here and present and paying attention.

If we are “awake,” then we will look at these givens of existence.

Unfortunately, Existential therapists like me get labeled as undisciplined, soft, unfocused, theoryless or eclectic. All we can do is apologize for not being able to clearly spell out what we do without it being a tome sized document.

What we do is not objectifiable anyway, because it involves working with the most subjective thing on the planet – humans.

© 2002 Russell Wilkie, MFT