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The Existential Moment: Begin Within

Welcome to The Existential Moment, EHI’s email digest intended to inform and inspire your healing work and growth in a brief but evocative format. In therapy (and life!), we recognize a pearl of ancient wisdom: to move a mountain, begin by carrying away small stones.

Introductions complete, let us orient ourselves as we begin our journey. Maps are a useful tool. They tell us where we are and importantly, where we’re going.

Theory and practice characterize the common pillars of the central psychotherapeutic modalities. Existential-Humanistic Therapy (E-H) differentiates itself on those mainstays.

In terms of practice, E-H Therapy is experiential and relational. It seeks to work squarely in the “here and now,” deeming it unnecessary to go on a treasure hunt in the “there and then.” It grounds work in presence and distinguishes between primary and secondary experience, process and content. It leverages micro-skills to help expand and deepen what is present toward helping clients discover what deeply matters about their lives. E-H Therapy likewise holds that the therapeutic relationship is the principal vehicle for healing and growth. Therapy is then a journey of intimacy and honesty, where the therapist is a fellow-traveler, calling on curiosity and acceptance toward desired ends.

-The “essentially human” is the foundation of E-H Therapy theory. The four dimensions of encounter frame the therapeutic context: the client, the therapist, the relational, and the cosmological. Within that frame, self-world constructs, meaning-making, constriction/expansion, protective patterns and enactments, and core wounds deepen understanding. Likewise, the existential givens of life/death, freedom/destiny, meaning/absurdity, and community/separateness orient exploration.

This is a rough map of E-H Therapy meant to serve as a touchstone as we venture forward. Still, as with any journey in life, the unexpected will arise. We will improvise, adapt, and embrace serendipity as it comes.

We hope you will find the journey enriching, personally and professionally.

Finally, as with the therapist-client journey itself, we are fellow travelers. And as we might then check-in with our clients, we check-in now with you: “how are we doing?” Please give us your feedback as we go. Let us know what you want to hear about, explore, or question, and tell us what you like and don’t like. We are present, curious, and listening.

Links to additional resources:
Why Become an Existential Therapist? by Louis Hoffman, PhD, PsyD
The Case for Existential Psychotherapy by Kirk Schneider, PhD, PSY

[reprinted from EHI Email on February 1, 2021]

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