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I have had specialist additional training in facilitating spiritual and existential development for those interested in exploring these areas in counselling. If you think this sounds appropriate for you and what you are bringing to counselling, find out more on here and discuss with Chris.

People struggle with life's big questions all the time. Few go any deeper and explore what their answers might be. Rather than telling you what to think or believe, I will use person centred counselling and facilitation to assist you on your inner adventure. ... And of course, if you wish, you can book sessions outdoors too!

Cloud with Silver Lining

Existential / Spiritual Definition

There is no one definition, but in general, spirituality:

  • is something everyone can experience

  • helps us to find meaning and purpose in the things we value

  • can bring hope in times of suffering and loss

  • encourages us to seek the best relationship with ourselves, others and what lies beyond

Existential development is concerned with :

  • The core experiences of human existence; the inevitability of death, freedom and its attendant responsibility, existential isolation, and meaninglessness.

  • The perceptions of these experiences from the four dimensions of human existence, the physical, social, personal and spiritual realms. 

Existential / Spiritual Wellbeing

All counselling tries to relieve pain and to help - but good counselling tries to do more. Spirituality / existentialism emphasises the healing of the person, not just the issue. It views life as a journey, where good and bad experiences can help you to learn, develop and mature.

Existential / Spiritual Crisis

An existential / spiritual crisis can occur when the answers to the questions about the meaning and purpose of life (as well as our place in it) no longer provide satisfaction, direction or peace of mind. Counselling can help you work your way through some of life's most difficult and perplexing issues. Existential / Spiritual issues can affect every other part of our life and can be said to be part of every aspect of our life and work. Although most of the time people don't think about these kind of things, Existentialism / Spirituality often becomes more important in times of distress, emotional stress, physical and mental illness, loss, bereavement and the approach of death. 

The most common Existential issues include:

  • The sense of being alone and isolated in the world

  • A new-found grasp or appreciation of one's mortality

  • Believing that one's life has no purpose or external meaning

  • Awareness of one's freedom and the consequences of accepting or rejecting that freedom

  • An extremely pleasurable or hurtful experience that leaves one seeking meaning

  • Exploring, developing in or losing faith in a Religion

The most common Spiritual issues include:

  • being honest with yourself – and able to see yourself as others see you

  • being able to stay focused in the present, to be alert, unhurried and attentive

  • being able to rest, relax and create a still, peaceful state of mind

  • developing a deeper sense of empathy for others

  • being able to be with someone who is suffering, while still being hopeful

  • learning better judgement, for example about when to speak or act, and  when to remain silent or do nothing

  • learning how to give without feeling drained

  • being able to grieve and let go.

How can counselling help?

Counselling helps by acknowledging the significance of recognising or identifying that you are having this level of crisis or problem. It can help you choose the meaning of your life and the method (s) of choosing. Kendal Therapy holds a person centred approach to spiritual / existential issues and will not advise on what you should do or what you should believe. Instead the therapist can help with finding your way on the road map of traditional and contemporary perspectives and even help clarify and explore your own individual belief system.

However, often standard couselling without these informative interventions can be enough to help a person explore these topics. The strength and quality of the work depends on the ability of the counsellor and the client to negotiate a way through together to meet the specific therapeutic goals in a way that suits the client the best so that in the end the client will complete the counselling process and will have developed healthy ways or practices that are beneficial to emotional, psychological and spiritual and existential wellbeng. 

Spiritual / Existential practices

These span a wide range, from the religious to secular – which may not be obviously spiritual. You may:

  • belong to a faith tradition and take part in services or other activities with other people

  • take part in rituals, symbolic practices and other forms of worship

  • go on pilgrimage and retreats

  • spend time enjoying nature

  • give of yourself in acts of compassion (including work, especially teamwork)

  • spend time in meditation, deep reflection or prayer

  • follow traditions of yoga,Tai Chi and similar disciplined practices

  • read scripture

  • listen to singing and/or playing sacred music, including songs, hymns, psalms and devotional chants

  • spend time in contemplative reading (of literature, poetry, philosophy etc.)

  • appreciate the arts

  • be creative - painting, sculpture, cookery, gardening etc.

  • make and keep good family relationships

  • make and keep friendships, especially those with trust and intimacy

  • join in team sports or other activities that involve cooperation and trust.

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