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Top Existential Therapists

If you’re an empathic soul, nostalgic feeler, or inquisitive thinker thirsty for growth and development then existential therapy might be for you.  

What is Existential Therapy?

Existential therapy is a philosophical, holistic, and person-centered approach to therapy. Focusing on the human condition as a whole and exploring themes such as self-esteem, decision paralysis, grief, meaning, death, and human connection, your provider will ask thought-provoking and depth-oriented questions that will allow you to get in touch with your values, soul, and what it is that makes you, you. Built on trust and safety, the therapeutic relationship will be collaborative, candid, strengths-based, humorous, and liberating. No topics are off-limits when it comes to process-oriented therapy; If you’re ready to lean into and unlock pandora’s box, we welcome you to reach out today. Our therapists specialize in the following:

  • Low Self-Esteem

  • Identity Development

  • Authenticity and Self-Discovery

  • Relationships

  • Loneliness 

  • Grief and Loss

  • Chronic Illness

  • Depression and Anxiety

  • Trauma

  • Work, Career, & Professional Growth

  • Spirituality 

  • Meaning and Purpose

  • Health and Wellness

  • Major Life Transitions and Changes

How is Existential Therapy Different from Other Therapies?

  1. Philosophical Understanding and Existential Focus: Existential therapy is rooted in philosophy, taking into consideration the entire human condition, and focusing on intimate and difficult human experiences that may go undiscussed in other therapies. Such topics include death and human limitation, loneliness, freedom and responsibility, meaning and absurdity, spirituality, life questioning, morality, and authenticity (among other topics). 

  2. Collaborative and Nonhierarchical: The therapeutic relationship is often collaborative, where the therapist acts as a guide and curious observer supporting clients in processing depth-oriented experiences such as values, beliefs, opinions, fears, questions, guilt, and hopes. While therapists come with a breadth of psychological and philosophical knowledge, the relationship is nonhierarchical, and much attention is placed on the client’s self-understanding and development of one’s self. 

  3. Growth Oriented: Whereas other therapies focus on coping skills, symptom reduction, and changing cognitive distortions, the focus of existential therapy is on greater self-awareness, development of self, meaning-making, authenticity, human connection, and acceptance of human limitations. 

  4. Present and Future Focused: While time is spent processing past traumas, upset, remorse, and past events that maintain one’s sense of stuckness, existential therapy focuses heavily on the present moment and future possibilities. Validating past pain and making space for exploring who we are and who we’d like to be in the world, allows clients to live more authentically, meaningfully, and in a direction toward value-driven experiences, genuine connection, psychological wellness, and alignment. 

  5. Nonpathologizing: One of the most beautiful elements of existential therapy, is the nonpathologizing stance it takes on mental “illness.” Whereas mental illness is often diagnosed, labeled, and categorized in other therapies, existential therapy views psychological struggles as normal reactions to life’s difficulties. Existential therapy focuses on validating a person’s set of experiences. While clients may desire symptom reduction, we often find that through the therapeutic process of self-understanding and self-growth, such “symptoms” may become less apparent. 

  6. Taboo Topics: While existential therapy focuses on social anxiety, depressive experiences, and self-harm, we explore how existential components may be influencing those experiences, such as existential dread, anxiety about the unknowns, lack of meaning, personal “failures,” existential loneliness, and desire for control. Our therapists take great pride in holding space for exploring topics that often go unsaid, such as passive suicidal thoughts, feeling disconnected from others, and struggling to live in a world with constant hate and crime. 

  7. Holistic and Humanistic: Overall, existential therapy takes a human-first approach. Through appropriate self-disclosure, gentle confrontation, satiric humor, and genuine regard, we are able to connect with our clients, validate painful experiences, share-in the difficulties that come with being human, and provide hope and clarity through collaborative and nonjudgmental exploration. 

  8. Experiential Processing: Existential therapy often incorporates experiential process, creative arts, music, dance, and alternative ways of self-expression> when we find words difficult to access or feel that words do not do an experience justice, it can be helpful to resort to experiential exercises as a form of emotional release and communication. 

At Authentically Living Psychological Services, our therapists work with adolescents and adults struggling with the difficulties that come with being human. We are licensed to practice in New York, New Jersey, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Maine, Washington, and all 40 states that are part of the interstate compact: PsyPact. We welcome you to reach out to learn more about our services. 

As collaborative providers, we are well-connected with other therapists who specialize in providing existential therapy or who lace philosophical traditions into their work. You’ll find their information below: 

15 of the Best Existential Therapists

Dr. Christine Greer O'Conner Headshot

Dr. Christine Greer O’Connor is the founder of Quarterlife Center. After experiencing her own quarterlife crisis in her twenties she was inspired to create the Quarterlife Center to help empower young adults in their journey towards building the lives they want. Her team consists of therapists and career coaches excited to support young adults struggling in relationships, in their careers, and with all the overwhelm that comes with entering adulthood. Her team can see clients in Washington D.C., Maryland, Virginia, New York, and California

Gemstone Wellness Headshots

Dr. Jenny Martin and Ms. Andrea Santiago co-own Gemstone Wellness. Located in Chicago, IL, both Jenny and Andrea practice existential therapy. Jenny enjoys working with other psychologists; As a BIPOC ally, she also enjoys working with marginalized and oppressed groups. She is known to incorporate creative mediums in her work to facilitate emotional expression. Andrea is a National Certified Counselor specializing in grief and loss. As a bilingual therapist, Andrea also offers immigration psychological assessments for those seeking asylum in the United States. 

Todd DuBose Headshot

A dear friend to the practice, Dr. Todd Dubose taught and mentored Dr. Cynthia Shaw during her graduate school training and chaired her dissertation. Holding degrees in philosophy, spirituality and psychology, Todd truly knows how to companion others during the unfolding through therapy. He specializes in “meaninglessness, extreme experiences, impossible ‘no way out’ situations, spiritual crises, life transitions, trauma, loss and mourning.” Originally from Atlanta, he practices in Chicago, IL, while teaching at TCSPP. 

Carl Hovey Headshot

Dr. Carl Hovey is a NY-based clinical psychologist, with additional licenses to practice in Connecticut and Massachusetts. Carl has experience working at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, Bronx State Psychiatric Hospital, and the Jewish Theological Seminary America, with additional time spent researching transgenderism among priest (esse)s in the Roman empire, and body-image in the gay male community. As a queer individual in a “hostile society, I became keenly interested in trying to understand that loss of enthusiasm for life which can accompany growing older.” Carl is also trained in clinical hypnosis and hypnotherapy and speaks Mandarin after living in China for several years after college. 

Boundless Headshot

A queer and women-owned progressive psychotherapy collective that prides itself on prioritizing culturally attuned care. Co-founder, Sam Urell, LCSW, is a person-centered relational therapist, and employs compassion, transparency, and authenticity in her practice with clients. Understanding the importance of human connection, purpose, and safety, Sam aims to support her clients fulfill these basic universal needs while uncovering unique potentials. Sam’s approach is fluid, existential, and insight-driven and specializes in complex trauma, addiction, relationships, LGBTQIA and identity issues, existential crisis, men’s mental health, and psychedelic integrations. Sam provides therapy virtually for residents of NY and internationally in India, Pakistan, and Aruba.

Miles Groth Headshot

Professor Emeritus in Psychology at Wager College, author, and dasein-analyst, Dr. Miles Groth is also a friend to the practice having taught special topics course in Schizophrenia and phenomenology to Dr. Cynthia Shaw during her undergraduate training. Specializing in existential phenomenology, humanistic psychology, psychology of men and boys, and continental philosophy, Miles is also the founder of the American Daseinsanalytic Institute.  

Rebecca Weiser Headshot

Ms. Rebecca Weiser, LCSW, is a New York-based social worker. She tends to draw from supportive, strengths-based, humanistic, existential, and relational psychotherapy when working with clients and approaches therapy considering two fundamental elements of human existence: “the inextricable link between the mind-body, and our need for connection and a sense of purpose.”

Claudia Perolini Headshot

Dr. Claudia Perolini is a bilingual licensed clinical psychologist practicing in the states of New York and Florida, in addition to all 40 PsyPact states. As an existential therapist, her philosophy as a clinician “is to help you move closer to the person you want to be while perhaps discovering new possibilities for yourself in the process.” Claudia enjoys working with adolescents and adults better understand and effectively manage symptoms of anxiety, depression, and trauma. 

Ryan Maher Psychotherapist Headshot

Ryan is a psychotherapist, writer, and presenter licensed to practice in Washington state and Illinois. Bringing warmth, compassion, and affirming energy to the therapy process, Ryan works with individuals navigating life changes, personal and relational conflicts, and feelings of purposelessness/lack of meaning. Specific concerns often include: depression, anxiety, grief, spiritual/existential crises, and impulsive/compulsive patterns. He has additional expertise in trauma and provides workshops on the intersection of trauma with the body, mind, and psyche, as well as the use of dreams in psychotherapy. 

Sindhu Singh Headshot

A fellow graduate colleague and friend of the practice, Ms. Sindhu Singh is a pre-licensed clinician under the supervision of existential psychologist, Dr. Laura Riss. Taking an internal family systems and interpersonal approach to therapy, Sindhu has a strong interest in working with members of the South Asian community, college students, immigrants, children of immigrants, early career professionals, and those struggling with chronic illness. Sindhu has additional interest and expertise working with clients who are professionals in the medical field, tech industry, and women and non-binary folk working in male-dominated corporate industries. Sindhu is culturally attuned and trauma-focused in her work with clients and is able to work with clients residing in Georgia.

Matt Kane Headshot

A college peer and friend of the practice, pre-licensed Dr. Matt Kane is a Pennsylvania-based relational and eclectic therapist, author, and advocate. Finding social justice to be an inescapable interwoven piece to therapy, Matt specializes in relationship issues, racial identity, and men’s issues. “I practice acknowledging the presence and impact of various systems in your life, while mindfully listening to what you believe can be helpful in your journey towards liberation.”

Ryan Maher Therapist Headshot

A graduate school colleague, Dr. Ryan Maher is a Chicago-based therapist part of Logan Square Counseling group practice. Formulating his approach from existential and humanistic practices, object relational and interpersonal psychodynamics, and narratively-focused therapies, Ryan enjoys working with adults who have experienced trauma, anxiety and depression, concerns with substance use, and those looking to find greater meaning in their lives. “In my work, I’ve been part of priceless conversations about living and dying, the spectrum of joy and despair, sexuality in its many forms, the extraordinary and unusual, and questions about overcoming the past in order to live a fulfilling future.”

Jennifer Teplin Headshot

Ms. Jennifer Teplin, LCSW, created Manhattan Wellness, for young professional to receive well-rounded care, and to support them in optimizing their life. Manhattan Wellness offers boutique psychotherapy, employing a tailored, direct, humanistic, solution-focused approach. Jennifer’s team offers telehealth services to New York residents struggling with anxiety, self-esteem, and dating. 

Alec Vicenzi Headshot

A graduate school colleague, Dr. Alec Vicenzi is a Minnesota-based clinical psychologist. In addition to approaching therapy via existential and psychodynamic philosophies, Alec is also EMDR certified. As a highly relational therapist, “I endeavor to create a safe and trusting environment in which clients feel supported to explore the various issues which bring them to my office.” He specializes in trauma, grief and loss, life transitions, and identity issues and concerns. 

Nance Reynolds Headshot

Dr. Nancy Reynolds is an Oregon-based existential-humanistic psychotherapist and teacher at the Existential Humanistic Institute in California. “I seek to provide respectful witness and guidance towards your knowing the more nuanced aspects of self and experience that continually shape choices and life.” Earlier in her career, Nance was a RN working in Women’s Services and Psychiatric Services. Nance enjoys yoga, dance, hiking, and tending to her garden.

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