As we grow up and make our way in the world, some of us struggle to identify a meaningful role for ourselves within this new life stage. (For example an adolescent confronting the responsibilities of becoming an adult.) As a child, ideally, parents or guardians satisfied our needs. In the less than idealistic world within which we now exist we are responsible for meeting each and every need on an emotional, spiritual and subsistence level on our own.
This “new world” presents us with a challenging new reality. Existential therapy, a type of psychotherapy, is a philosophical method of therapy that is premised on the belief that interpersonal conflict results from dealing with the challenges posed by this new life stage.
The key theme that the existential therapist will focus on is the “here and now” – how this person is positioned in relation to the “four worlds” :
- Self: an appreciation of one’s self involves the realisation that we live in a physical form in a physical world – these limitations create personal challenges.
- Social circle (close friends and family) and society: how the client interacts with others and factors influencing those interactions such as culture, race, sexuality, religion, cooperation and competition
- Psychological: the individual’s view of their own character, their past experiences and their future responsibilities. Facing issues of loss and death may bring anxiety.
- The spiritual world: how a person relates to the unknown. Facing the void and the possibility of nothingness or accepting eternal life influences a person’s view of the here and now.