Are you looking for change? Struggling in your relationships? Trying to heal? Learning how to live with mental illness? I offer existential therapy to address these and other challenges. This can be a transformative and effective modality for clients looking to learn how to live with mental illness, process grief, build self-knowledge and self-worth, heal wounds, work with change, find embodiment and integration, resist oppression, and cope with the inevitable suffering that life holds.
My clients appreciate the humanistic approach I bring to our work, which centers your lived experience. I operate on the belief that you are the expert on yourself and work to understand you as an individual to know how to most effectively address your challenges. I can be a guide, partner, and witness in the therapeutic process of building trust and collaborating to strengthen your sense of self and ability to find meaning and joy in your life.
I have worked with people experiencing many different forms of mental distress; my approach is more about engaging with the whole person than with specific diagnoses. I offer an anti-oppression lens and am experienced with and affirming of LGBTQ+, kinky, polyamorous, and chronically ill clients.
Who I work with
I have worked with people experiencing:
Grief and loss
Gender identity concerns
Oppression and marginalization
Challenges of living with chronic illness/disability
This is not an exhaustive list of the life experiences my clients have. Existential therapy can be helpful for people going through many different types of challenges. Therapy, in my opinion, is about working with a whole person.
My approach is grounded in three main areas: existentialism, anti-oppression, and phenomenology. I know those are abstract concepts. Here are some of the ways they translate into therapeutic work.
Building self-knowledge and self-worth
While formal education teaches us many things about the world, it does little in the way of teaching us how to learn about ourselves. I believe this is one of the most important skills a person can have, and therapy is a way to build it. So many of us struggle with valuing ourselves because we’ve been told in some way by others that we aren’t important, or even because we simply don’t know ourselves well enough to find our own worth. Self-exploration in a therapeutic relationship offers a safe container for learning about yourself and confronting the messages that are holding you back from seeing your own worth.
Few of us make it to adulthood without having been hurt in serious ways, sometimes by the same people who we expected to love and care for us. This early damage moves forward with you through life, affecting your relationships, sense of self, and ability to experience all that your life has to offer. While we cannot go back and change the past, we can, in therapy, spend time with what remains of the past and find ways to heal the hurts you have experienced. This can help you build stronger connections with others, which is vital to long-term well-being. I work with trauma not by dredging it up and retelling, but by examining how it shows up now and addressing those experiences.
Coping with suffering
To be human is to experience suffering. Whether that suffering comes from mental illness, family dynamics, romantic relationships, societal marginalization, or something else, we will all suffer at some points. While we can do work to heal some of this pain, better manage mental illness, or make life changes to improve relationships, there are times we will inevitably be distressed. Learning how to interact and make peace with suffering is an important part of finding well-being.
Working with change
Who you are today is not who you were a year ago, nor is it who you will be a year from now. Part of the human experience is that we are constantly shifting and unfolding, and it can be hard to keep up. Change can be intentional or involuntary, and both types can be exciting at the same time as being hard and scary. Learning how to follow ourselves as we transform and challenge ourselves in areas we feel need changing is enormously helpful in moving forward in life. And sometimes, working on change is also about working on acceptance of what was or what is; what cannot be escaped.
Finding embodiment and integration
We live through our bodies; and yet, we often neglect them. The body holds wisdom and information. For instance, my breathing or heart rate can tell me if I feel safe or scared. How I am sitting with someone can reveal how I am feeling about them. I think it is important in therapy to attend to the body and learn from what it is telling us. Integration is partly about mind-body integration, which helps you live more wholly. It is also about integration with others: we are social beings and need supportive social connections. With individual therapy, I offer you one source of support but also focus on helping you find others.
Marginalization and oppression at institutional and interpersonal levels often have profound negative effects on our psyches. We have internalized the stories others tell about us and these get in the way of finding our own stories and empowerment. By holding awareness of the realities of oppression and the messages of social justice in the therapeutic relationship, I can offer you a path to replacing those damaging narratives with your own truths and finding empowerment in your life.
What do you need?
Augustin Kendall ReachesMinneapolis MN