About Existential Analysis

Existential Analysis can be defined as a phenomenological and person-oriented psychotherapy, with the aim of leading the person to (mentally and emotionally) free experiences, to facilitate authentic decisions and to bring about a truly responsible way of dealing with life and the world.

The psychotherapeutic process takes place via phenomenological analysis of the emotions as the centre of experiences. Biographical work and empathic listening by the therapist contribute to an improvement in emotional understanding and accessibility. 

Existential Psychotherapy helps people live with an inner consent to what they do versus simply "lending oneself" to an experience in a passive way. It involves an examination of the self (intrapsychic) as well as the world (interpersonal). The aim of EA is to help find a way of living that enables us to give this inner consent to our actions (an affirmation to life). It is a life led with an inner "YES" (a saying yes to life in a way that allows the person to live with a more complete presence: commitment - engagement - freedom to choose).

For a more thorough description of the theory and practice of Existential Analysis, click here 

The Development of

Existential Analysis 3

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"Life is not primarily a quest for pleasure, as Freud believed, or a quest for power, as Alfred Adler taught, but a quest for meaning"

-Viktor Frankl

Existential Analysis was conceived by Viktor E. Frankl in the 1930s as an anthropological theory of an existential school of psychotherapy. At the same time Frankl developed “Logotherapy” as a meaning-oriented form of counselling and treatment.

 

Existential Analysis means an analysis of the conditions necessary for a life in which values have their place and that is self-shaped and dignified. The aim of Existential Analysis is to develop one’s perceptiveness and individual activity (capability for commitment) in one’s experiences, relations and actions. This means that Existential Analysis deals with the personal conditions prerequisite for a meaningful existence in cases where these are blocked by psychic illnesses or troubles.

 

The theoretical and practical basis of Existential Analysis is the concept of the Fundamental Motivations (Längle), which are systematically referred to in counselling and therapy as the “building blocks of existence”. In addition, the method of “Personal Existential Analysis” is used in therapy. This represents an existential and phenomenological method of psychotherapy which makes it possible to treat psychogenetic (particularly neurotic) troubles with Existential Analysis in a similar manner to depth psychology. This form of Existential Analysis was developed in the GLE and is exclusively taught there.

 

The concepts of the GLE constitute an elaboration of Frankl’s approach and, in particular, include work on emotions and biography. This is especially important since the existential analytical and logotherapeutical anthropology sees humans as beings who constantly shape their lives with conscious or unconscious decisions. But decisions can only be taken in a meaningful way, if the values in question are made conscious, are experienced and are weighed against each other. This act requires perceptivity as far as the world around is concerned instead of self-absorption. Furthermore, this is only possible if one has access to one’ s emotions which bring a person in touch with his or her values.

 

Existential Analysis does not see a person as the mere result of intrapsychic processes or of the influences of his environment, but as someone who can shape him or herself in those things that count in life. Therefore notions like being (existence), relation (values), freedom of decision, responsibility (conscience) form the fundamental concepts of the existential analytical way of thinking and they all lead to the idea of “meaning” (=logos).

 

The practical application of logotherapy as a meaning-oriented form of counselling and treatment consists primarily in assisting people who are not (yet) ill, but who suffer from a sense of loss of existential orientation. Thus, logotherapy is widely applicable in psychological, psychohygenic, social, preventive, caring, educational and pastoral fields. It contributes to the prophylaxis of disorders and to the prevention and treatment of feelings of meaninglessness and emptiness (“existential vacuum”). Its aim is to enhance the individual experience of meaning by leading to a freely chosen responsibility (“individual responsibility”).