Dissertations and Theses @ UNI


Open Access Thesis


Counseling; Existentialism


Existentialism offers principles which establish a basis for formulating an understanding of man. This philosophy presents perceptions of man which, if considered by counselors, could expand and enrich the counselors' understanding of human existence. The intent of this study was to show that as a result of insight into existential principles and the implementation of these principles in counseling practice, counselors could be better able to facilitate client growth.

The first chapter of this study discussed principles of existential philosophy which established a basis for understanding human existence. Significant principles included the importance of each individual and his experienced world, authenticity, freedom, responsibility, angst, Dasein and encounter.

The second chapter showed the general relationship of existential philosophy to counseling practice. Major concepts which appeared to have relevance for counseling were the uniqueness of each individual, confrontation of the realities of human existence, the importance of decision-making, and the necessity of individual experiencing of identity and the affirmation of that identity in action.

Chapter three discussed specific ideas from philosophy, therapy, and psychology which have influenced existential counseling. Ideas of man derived from phenomenology, Daseinsanalyse, logotherapy, and humanistic psychology were examined which described man as aware, anxious, capable of structuring meaning, dynamic, connected to others, and able to actualize possibilities.

Practical applications of existential principles in counseling were presented in Chapter four. Specific elements of existential counseling situations were explored, such as the counselor's attitude toward his clients, the counseling relationship, and the necessity of considering the entire range of client concerns. Non-clinical settings where existential counseling might be appropriate, such as occupational therapy centers, social work agencies, and schools, were also considered.

The fifth chapter focused on implications of the counselor's understanding of existential principles as they could influence his counseling practice. Implications for counselors, drawn from this study, were the following: existential counseling is concerned less with specific techniques and methodologies and more with the individual client and that client's experienced world; existential counseling focuses on the client's unique ability to experience his existence and to actualize his possibilities for freedom, responsibility, authenticity, and encounter; existential counseling considers the entire spectrum of the client's life significant, including concerns of suffering, angst, death, and the structuring of life meanings; existential counseling is a lived experience of being-in-the-world for both client and counselor, and as such is a fluid, dynamic process rather than a static system.

Year of Submission


Degree Name

Specialist in Education


Department of Educational Leadership and Postsecondary Education


Department of School Administration and Personnel Services

First Advisor

Robert L. Frank


If you are the rightful copyright holder of this thesis and wish to have it removed from the Open Access Collection, please submit a request to scholarworks@uni.edu and include clear identification of the work, preferably with URL.

Date Original


Object Description

1 PDF file (60 pages)



File Format