History and Philosophy
The Society for Existential Analysis was founded in 1988 by Emmy van Deurzen and has since developed and attracted considerable interest and respect both from within the United Kingdom as well as Internationally.
The members of the Society comprise a network of professionals and students (i.e. Psychologists, Counsellors, Psychotherapists and others) who have an interest in the human condition. Particular emphasis is given to the development and dissemination of Existential and Phenomenological ideas within the field of Counselling and Psychotherapy.
The Society holds an Annual Conference and runs regular CPD events. It publishes its own bi-annual peer reviewed Journal with an international readership and provides up to three newsletters a year for its members – the Hermeneutic Circular.
Through its activities and publications, the Society provides an International focus for the promotion and practice of Existential Counselling and Psychotherapy and the application of Existential Philosophy and Phenomenology within the world of therapy. The Society actively encourages debate and research into the development of Existential – Phenomenology.
Existential ideas have a lineage that can be traced far back into the history of philosophy and even into man’s pre-philosophical attempts to attain a fundamental self-understanding.
The Existential approach to Psychotherapy has been recognised in Europe since the early 1920’s. In the UK the Society has, since 1988, served as the principal organisation uniting therapists who practice Existential Psychotherapy. While many of its practitioners see it as a form of ‘depth analysis’ – the approach having much in common with Psychodynamic, Humanistic, Experiential, Relational and even contemporary Cognitive Behavioural (CBT) approaches – most of its central concepts have been developed as alternatives to Psychoanalytic ideas.
The Existential emphasis upon ‘relational existence’ challenges linear concepts and assumptions about personal development, the nature of the ‘self’ as well as thinking about the past, present and future – the Existential approach having parallels and links with contemporary thinking in quantum physics – especially in relation to issues of human uncertainty and the possibility of achieving such a thing as absolute truth. The Existential-Phenomenological approach emphasises the ‘unfolding’ nature of our awareness of being and what it is to exist.
Those involved in the world of Existential Analysis often embody a range of philosophical stances – each developing perspectives about existence that have evolved from many years of philosophical study, professional practice and reflection on life’s rich tapestry.