Why See an Existential-Humanistic Therapist?

Values, qualities, and skills embraced by an E-H therapist.

Posted Oct 23, 2018

You’ve decided to talk to a therapist. You’ve learned more about the Existential-Humanistic perspective through reading my blogs. You have questions. What is an Existential-Humanistic therapist? What are the specific values, qualities, and skills of this type of therapy? I will explore this in my next few blogs. My hope is you will understand what you will be undertaking if you choose to work with an E-H therapist. I recognize that each client’s journey is unique to them as they discover and connect with their authentic self. I appreciate that each individual E-H therapist will have their own unique way of working.

I believe these sets of values, qualities, and skills are rewarding and affirming ways for us to approach our life. This way of being will give a reverence to one’s life that both enrich our relationships and deepen our connection to ourselves.

The first set of core values that an E-H therapist embraces are:

1. Valuing the client for their inherent worth and dignity beyond their undesirable or ineffective behaviors.

2. Believing even the most wounded client has the capacity and potential to heal.

The first set of qualities and skills that the E-H therapist emphasizes are:

1. Hearing and observing the lived experience of the client with acceptance and engaged curiosity.

2. Developing an unconditional positive regard for the client which is expressed both verbally and embodied non-verbally.

3. Being in touch with their authentic self in relationship to their client and, as appropriate, express that to their client.

4. Cultivating a highly developed sense of empathy that they express to the client. This means being able to sensitively communicate their perception of the client’s lived experience in a way that the client feels deeply heard and understood. This facilitates the client to make new discoveries that can range from helpful to life transforming. 

I want to acknowledge Carl Rogers for initially practicing, researching, and advocating for the importance of congruence, empathy, and unconditional positive regard that is needed for any therapeutic modality to foster growth and healing. His work inspired me when I was 21 and was instrumental in my decision to be a therapist. His work still inspires me today.

These are a few of the values, qualities, and skills that are core to Existential-Humanistic psychotherapy. I will explore the second set in my next blog.