Existentialism is a philosophy that emphasizes the existence of the individual person as a free and responsible agent who determines their own development through acts of will. So, what is existential therapy and how can this philosophy be used to better our own lives through counseling?

Join us as today’s guest, Dr. Christopher S. Taylor, tells us more about this therapeutic practice and what basis it has in science. It’s a practice that seems new, but has actually been around for a very long time.

Christopher S. Taylor, Ph.D. LPC-S

Christopher S. Taylor, Ph.D. LPC-S, author ofMy Digital Practice and host of the For Self-Examination podcast, is an adjunct professor of counseling ethics at Dallas Theological Seminary and Amberton University. Dr. Taylor utilizes existential psychotherapy to provide treatment for individuals struggling with loss of identity. In 2015, he was appointed by Governor Greg Abbott to serve on the Texas State Board of Examiners of Professional Counselors as a professional member, and was reappointed to continue serving on the board in 2021. In 2018, he was unanimously voted as vice-chair of the board.

Dr. Taylor founded Taylor Counseling Group in 2015 with a mission to provide affordable, accessible, and reliable mental health services. Taylor Counseling Group was founded on five core values: Affordable Care, Transformational Change, Collaborative Growth, Community Support and Human Capital. With 9 locations in Dallas, Galleria Dallas, Coppell, Southlake, Fort Worth, Waxahachie, Houston Memorial Park, The Woodlands, and San Antonio, the affordable counseling provider has plans for rapid growth throughout Texas.

Working with various state and private organizations such as Child Protective Services since 2008, Dr. Taylor has experienced the lack of community support for broken homes in both urban and rural communities. In an endeavor to alleviate this issue, Dr. Taylor served as the court coordinator and program developer for Legacy Family Court in Dallas County from 2013 to 2016. In 2015, Legacy Family Court was recognized as “An Agent of Change” by the Council on Drug and Alcohol Abuse and was awarded an official resolution by Dallas County. In 2016, the Agricultural Commissioner appointed Dr. Taylor to serve on the Rural Health Task Force to assist in developing solutions for the expansion of mental health programs in rural Texas communities.

Dr. Taylor completed his Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy with a concentration in existentialism at Texas A&M University. He continues to research and write on the subject of identity and existential development.

Gabe Howard

Our host, Gabe Howard is an award-winning writer and speaker who lives with bipolar disorder. He is the author of the popular book, “Mental Illness is an Asshole and other Observations,” available from Amazon; signed copies are also available directly from the author.

Gabe makes his home in the suburbs of Columbus, Ohio. He lives with his supportive wife, Kendall, and a Miniature Schnauzer dog that he never wanted, but now can’t imagine life without.

To book Gabe for your next event or learn more about him, please visit gabehoward.com.

Producer’s Note: Please be mindful that this transcript has been computer generated and therefore may contain inaccuracies and grammar errors. Thank you.

Announcer: You’re listening to Inside Mental Health: A Psych Central Podcast where experts share experiences and the latest thinking on mental health and psychology. Here’s your host, Gabe Howard.

Gabe Howard: Welcome, everyone. I’m your host, Gabe Howard, and calling in to the show today we have Christopher S. Taylor, Ph.D., LPC-S. Dr. Taylor is the author of My Digital Practice and host of the For Self-examination podcast and is an adjunct professor of counseling of ethics at Dallas Theological Seminary Cemetery. That’s wow.

Christopher S. Taylor, Ph.D. LPC-S: Well, seminary, although

Gabe Howard: See.

Christopher S. Taylor, Ph.D. LPC-S: I would definitely take the job as a counselor of ethics at a cemetery, 100%. I would do that for sure, especially as an existentialist. Because. Because now we’re already going into like death. Let’s talk about it. Let’s get into it.

Gabe Howard: Oh, that’s awesome. That’s awesome. I wish we’d had outtakes on this show. I’m. I’m

Christopher S. Taylor, Ph.D. LPC-S: I say leave it in, man.

Gabe Howard: Super jealous that I can’t like put.

Christopher S. Taylor, Ph.D. LPC-S: Just leave that in. That sounds great. I say we go with it.

Gabe Howard: Well, just in case, Let me try it again. All right, here we go.

Christopher S. Taylor, Ph.D. LPC-S: Go for it.

Gabe Howard: Hello, everyone. I’m your host, Gabe Howard and calling into the show today we have Christopher S. Taylor, Ph.D., LPC-S. Dr. Taylor is the author of My Digital Practice and host of the For Self-Examination podcast. He’s also an adjunct professor of counseling and ethics at Dallas Theological Seminary and Amberton University. Dr. Taylor, welcome to the show.

Christopher S. Taylor, Ph.D. LPC-S: Thanks, Gabe. I’m super excited to be here.

Gabe Howard: Dr. Taylor, I want to make a quick, quick confession. When this topic was brought up at the Inside Mental Health podcast pitch meeting, I immediately said, Look, we can’t cover that. And it prompted the other folks in the room to say, Wow, that was fast. Why not? To which I replied, because look, I really suck at pronouncing existential and I will look so foolish on my own

Christopher S. Taylor, Ph.D. LPC-S: Yeah.

Gabe Howard: Show. Now, obviously I got over it and we’re here ready to discuss existential therapy. Am I pronouncing the word correctly?

Christopher S. Taylor, Ph.D. LPC-S: Yeah, sure. Why not? Whatever. You know, existentialism is

Gabe Howard: That doesn’t sound like a yes.

Christopher S. Taylor, Ph.D. LPC-S: Existentialism is, you know, pretty close to nihilism in a lot of people’s viewpoints. So we can just go with whatever. That’s fine.

Gabe Howard: Whatever I say is going to be good enough. All right.

Christopher S. Taylor, Ph.D. LPC-S: Yeah. I mean, look, the existential crew, we’re a very non-judgy bunch, so that’s fine. You know, you try. That’s okay.

Gabe Howard: I did my. I did my best. All right. That’s. That’s because we all know how life works, right? If you do your best, you get the points, you win the Super Bowl, it’s it’s

Christopher S. Taylor, Ph.D. LPC-S: You win the game.

Gabe Howard: All about how hard you try.

Christopher S. Taylor, Ph.D. LPC-S: Absolutely. Yeah.

Gabe Howard: So just to make sure I get this right. It’s existential.

Christopher S. Taylor, Ph.D. LPC-S: Existential like an egg.

Gabe Howard: Existential.

Christopher S. Taylor, Ph.D. LPC-S: Ex. Existential. Egg.

Gabe Howard: All right. I’m going to brutalize this for the rest of the show.

Christopher S. Taylor, Ph.D. LPC-S: Yeah.

Gabe Howard: You know, many folks have heard the quip they’re having an existential crisis.

Christopher S. Taylor, Ph.D. LPC-S: Mm-hmm.

Gabe Howard: But what does that actually mean?

Christopher S. Taylor, Ph.D. LPC-S: Oh, man. Well, you know, today it means you probably just forgot your TikTok password. But what it actually means is that your current identity is in conflict with your past or future identity, and your value structure is being aggressively challenged.

Gabe Howard: I like that you brought up that it’s sort of become, I’m going to say like a fad statement because, for example, I like Diet Coke. I drink a lot of

Christopher S. Taylor, Ph.D. LPC-S: Yeah.

Gabe Howard: Diet Coke. And whenever I go to a restaurant and they don’t have Diet Coke, somebody invariably is like, well, don’t have an existential crisis. And I’m just like, look, it’s a soda. I really I don’t think that’s the kind of thing that’s going to trigger me to lose my entire identity. But because people know that I really like Diet Coke, they they just assume that it’s going to. And I think that’s really devalued the actual research and philosophy behind this. It’s a big, big deal to lose who you are. And

Christopher S. Taylor, Ph.D. LPC-S: Yeah.

Gabe Howard: We’ve sort of watered that down to mean minor inconvenience.

Christopher S. Taylor, Ph.D. LPC-S: Yes, absolutely. I really enjoyed the phrase literally. Now it has you know, the dictionary is actually amended it to mean figuratively as well, because we’ve been using it wrong. So I think we’re kind of in the same boat, which is okay.

Gabe Howard: Dr. Taylor. All kidding aside, we’ve talked about how society is definitely using the meaning largely incorrectly and for frivolous things. But what would be an example of something that could happen to a person that would make them need this therapy, that would that would trigger

Christopher S. Taylor, Ph.D. LPC-S: Yeah.

Gabe Howard: I don’t want to say a real existential crisis because I don’t want to be demeaning to anybody who feels that they’re having one. But what level are you looking at that rises to the level that you as a doctor would say, hey, you really need some therapy for that.

Christopher S. Taylor, Ph.D. LPC-S: Well, a great example right now, if we want to be a little edgy, is our current political climate. So we have two major parties in the US that have a lot of identity issues right now. Both the Republicans and the Democrats are struggling with what defines them as a party. And so if I choose to identify as a Republican or a Democrat, I’m making a statement that I’ve both subscribed and I subscribe to this set of values. Right. And same thing in a religious structure. I subscribe to these set of values. Now, what happens if those values change? If the party or that organization changes the value structure? And I’m not ready to change my values, right? What happens if I start making choices and 1 or 2 small choices? Not that big of a deal, but when I start making larger choices, when I start making choices consistently that are in conflict with my values, I start to develop an existential crisis. I start to wonder like, who am I really? What defines me? And when we lose our values, which is our values are building blocks of identity. They are the foundation that we stand on as far as when I talk about who I am. And so when something changes, say, you know, abortion is a hot topic right now. Let’s say you were you decide to have an abortion, But that’s against your religious ideology. That’s against your political affiliations. You know, that can create a very, very difficult identity rupture for you.

Gabe Howard: Now to the outside observer, they would say, well, what you’re actually describing is hypocrisy. They don’t really look at it as any sort of existential crisis or any issue or certainly not something that would require medical intervention like therapy. They’d say you just need to reexamine your political or religious affiliations. But we do understand it’s not so simple, because you can’t just turn these things on and off on a dime.

Christopher S. Taylor, Ph.D. LPC-S: Yeah, and that’s exactly what we would do in psychotherapy as well from an existential standpoint is we would evaluate those value structures, but we would do it in an open way that says, okay, let’s walk through this experience you had in your life. How does that how does that map with your current choice structure, how does that map with what you’re thinking, what you’re doing, what you’re wanting to do, what your new goals are? And we look at your past self, we look at your current self and we look at the hope for the future self. As we work through those values and existentialism, we believe that that you have the freedom to choose. So the one over here saying, Hey, you’re now a hypocrite. From their point of view, they see values as fixed. They say never change from the existentialist viewpoint. We can say, well, you know, we’re all dynamic creatures. We’re all growing and changing. We’re interacting with the world around us. We’re making new choices over and over again. Maybe what we were taught as a child, maybe the value structures that were imprinted on us as a child are not the ones we want to carry forward in our adult lives. So we work through that process.

Gabe Howard: And it sounds like you embrace that that change is part of the growth process and is normal. And you help people evaluate that to make decisions for their own lives in a and I know this is sort of a buzzword today, but in a nonjudgmental way, people really judge when they change their minds and they believe that changing their mind leads to them being a flip-flopper or wishy-washy or unstable when in actuality it’s anything but. Is that correct?

Christopher S. Taylor, Ph.D. LPC-S: Yeah, absolutely. So we, as existential psychotherapists and individuals are in search for the authentic self. So we want to find that most authentic version of you that’s out there. We want to help you drill into this glue, the gooey substance of you as we try to unearth what that authentic thing is.

Gabe Howard: The most common and I would argue popular therapy in America at least, is CBT, cognitive behavioral therapy. How does existential therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy differ?

Christopher S. Taylor, Ph.D. LPC-S: So, you know, I’m a member of the Society of Existential Analysis, and we wrote a there was an article that our editor wrote wwwthat was really funny. I’m sure nobody else will get it. But, you know, he was he was talking about how CBT became so popular because they just did a good job with branding. You know, CBT is just like really easy to say. It sounds good. It sounds nice. The email therapist, you call them say, Hey, I’d like to do CBT. Everyone’s like, Sure, yeah, that works, let’s do it. So the joke was that we should change existentialism to B-B-B, which stands for Being by Becoming. And then we could not only will we still a B, but we’ll make it even easier for people to say so. I thought that was pretty funny. Um, but the big difference is that CBT works on techniques. It works with the individual to solve problems. Right? We work on thought, right? Cognitive behavioral therapy, sort of thought action, right? So we work on the thoughts, we work on the behavior. And existential psychotherapy, we are working from more philosophical standpoints. We don’t use techniques a whole lot. We will bring in some techniques like empty chair and other stuff. But but most existential therapy is reflective. It’s challenging. It’s waiting and listening. It’s connecting the dots, asking challenging questions in a non-judgmental way to help the individual work through conflict schemas. And so what we looked at are four givens. And this all comes from Kierkegaard and and Yalom and all of our all of our forefathers for existentialism. But the four givens are basically just four simple things that we believe.

Gabe Howard: You mentioned the four givens. Are these the main principles behind existential therapy? And wq what are those four givens?

Christopher S. Taylor, Ph.D. LPC-S: Right, Exactly. So this is kind of the foundation for how we do therapy. So we’re looking for conflict in one of these four areas, which is freedom versus responsibility. Love versus isolation. Meaning versus meaninglessness and death. Now, death, you know, we joke it’s not in conflict with anything because death always wins. If death wants to occur, it will occur. So it’s not really so much in conflict with life, but it adds meaning to life. So these are the four complex themes that we’re looking at. Now, I would challenge you to think of a problem in your life or anybody else’s life that you might know and see how they how they might how they don’t fit in one of these areas. Pretty much anything we deal with is going to fit into the issue between freedom and responsibility. If I have too much freedom, I’m not living the life that I want to live. I have too much responsibility. I’m overburdened. If I have too much love, maybe I’m codependent. If I’m not being social, I’m isolated. If I don’t have a job or purpose that fulfills me, that has meaning, then, you know, then my life is meaninglessness. And why do I want to live a meaningless life?

Gabe Howard: I’m thinking of myself for a moment, Dr. Taylor, And this is my way of trying to get free therapy. So I just. I want to admit that’s the whole reason I started the podcast, free therapy in the comfort of my own home. I invented telehealth before it was cool. I just let other people listen in. But I’m thinking of all the times that I thought that something that I did was pointless, worthless, meaningless. And the people around me were like, No, Gabe, it wasn’t. It had this value or that value. Is that what this therapy is like? Because we’ve talked a lot about loss of identity, and it just occurred to me that maybe it’s perceived loss of identity. Is this all wrapped up into existentialism or am I just way off base?

Christopher S. Taylor, Ph.D. LPC-S: No, you’re right on it. That’s exactly what what we’re talking about is either that perceived loss or actual loss. It doesn’t matter because it’s your reality. So an existential psychotherapy. Our goal is to enter into your reality, your your lived experience of the world, your phenomenological experience of how you see things and how you feel things, how you do things. We call this empathy, right? And we want to experience the way that you see the world and what what gives your life meaning, because only you have the power to choose. And that’s it.

Gabe Howard: How does existential therapy help you choose? I mean, I imagine that you’re not just telling people what to do. You’re you’re literally giving them the tools. And I used literally correctly, you’re literally giving them the tools to choose on their own after therapy is over. But that can’t be a simple process to take somebody who feels that they have lost their identity and then give them the tools that they need to choose their own adventure, choose their path forward. That strikes me as something that’s just not going to happen in 3 to 6 sessions.

Christopher S. Taylor, Ph.D. LPC-S: Oh, it’s definitely not going to happen in 3 to 6 sessions. It’ll probably happen over three years. It’s a very long process. And not that I’m saying, you need to be in therapy for three years. But it is a it is a longer process because what we’re drilling into is how you make choices, why you make choices, what are the motivators for those choices? What are your values? Where do each of those values come from? I mean, a lot of us, if I were to give you a sheet of paper and I said, Write down your ten highest values, you know, you might struggle to do that, right? You might struggle to do that because you probably have never sat down somewhere and said, What are my values? You know, and really write them out. You know, we have an idea of what they are, but have we really written them down and given a lot of thought into them? So we’re going to do we’re going to we’re going to examine those. We’re going to examine where they come from. We’re going to examine the conflicts that have arisen out of them. You know, we’re going to look at what you did as a child to survive and how those coping mechanisms are preventing you from thriving as an adult. And then we’re going to look at each of these value structures as they impact our choices today. And then we’re going to talk through what other options we could do. What if instead of choosing Diet Coke, you decided that you were a Diet Pepsi man all of a sudden, and it’s been that way the whole time, you know.

Gabe Howard: I’m shook. I got to tell you, I’m shook. You said that

Christopher S. Taylor, Ph.D. LPC-S: I know.

Gabe Howard: And I started to quake a little bit. I was like, no, no, no, you can’t. You can’t. You can’t take this away from me.

Christopher S. Taylor, Ph.D. LPC-S: But what if. What if? Let’s just examine. What if we went into that world? What would it be like? And maybe. And maybe we’re firm. Maybe. Hey, no, we don’t want to do that. But let’s examine it. Let’s look at all of it. Let’s let’s examine the whole scope of your choice process. And then as we work through making new choices that you like, making new choices that you that that feel right for you, redefining your values or and I’m not saying that we change them. Maybe we just firm up the definition of them a little bit, right? Maybe we clarify them a little bit and then use them to make healthier choices moving forward. And then you walk through that process having done it so many times and we use this process. Kierkegaard called it Diastema. It’s a Greek word that just means self examined letter, right? So you’re writing this letter to yourself. The therapist acts as a mirror and just kind of, you know, gives a little bit of a push every once in a while, you know? And through that process, you gain this confidence, this empowerment to choose. And then you just, you know, very boldly go through life making choices that that you feel good about.

Sponsor Break

Gabe Howard: We’re back discussing existential therapy with Dr. Christopher S. Taylor. When you brought up Diet Coke, one of the things that I thought about is my grandfather constantly saying, Gabe, you’re a Diet Coke addict. And that actually got me thinking about addiction treatment. And

Christopher S. Taylor, Ph.D. LPC-S: Yeah.

Gabe Howard: One of the things that we talk about in addiction treatment is it’s not enough to just tell somebody, you stop abusing drugs, stop abusing alcohol, you know, stop smoking. Right. You have to one. Help them understand that this behavior is hurting them. But two, and this is a really important part, you have to help them replace the behaviors. So much of their identity is tied up in going to the bar to drink the alcohol. They go every Friday after work and they have, you know, wine, beer, whatever. And they would have to give that up in order to be sober. And I was thinking, as you were talking, wow, so much of our identities are wrapped up in the things that we do. For example, all of the restaurants that are my favorite just happen to pick Diet Coke. So, let’s say that my grandfather is right. I am addicted to Diet Coke and here I am. I want to become unaddicted. I want to start drinking water. So, the first thing that I would do is stop going to places that had Diet Coke to remove the temptation. So now I’ve wiped out literally all of my favorite restaurants. They’re all gone. And my friends, they still like those restaurants and they’re not on board with the new Gabe. They’re like, no, we’re still going to these restaurants. They’re still our favorites. So, all of a sudden, I’ve literally lost my identity, right? I’ve lost the Diet Coke, I’ve lost my friends, I’ve lost my favorite restaurants. So, I end up in this fourth space where my only choice is to start making that that that devil’s pact, right? I’m going to go to the restaurant, but not order the Diet Coke. And that in addiction treatment is where we see the most relapses. People have put themselves back in the position where they are most likely to relapse, which we try to get them to avoid. So, my very specific question, Dr. Taylor, is does this work for addiction treatment because of how much of our identities are tied up in our addictions?

Christopher S. Taylor, Ph.D. LPC-S: The answer to that is yes and no. I would not recommend it for somebody coming out of an IOP or like an inpatient program for heroin addiction or something like that. At least in the beginning. It’s definitely something that we can work on later on down the road once you’ve gone through more formal addiction treatment. But let’s examine for a moment the thing that you brought up was your only choice. And so that’s what we’re going to look at progressively, is this is your only choice, because that’s not accurate. You know, we live in a world that is basically calculus. You know, there are a ton of different ways to get to the answer, right? We have a lot of choices in front of us, but what we tend to do is put these blinders on and say, this is my only choice. And so, I’m forced to make this choice, and we call that passive choice. You’re not actively taking a role in your life. You’re just allowing the individuals and the situations around you to navigate for you where you’re going. Right? So, I want to talk to you about in this session is, is let’s focus on where this perceived choice comes from, you know, because we do have other choices.

Christopher S. Taylor, Ph.D. LPC-S: One, we can get new friend groups. That sounds painful and it probably will be. But it is a choice, too. We can choose not to go out, you know, and as unfortunate as that is. But that’s a choice, right? It’s a choice that we can examine. You know, we have a lot of other options out there. So, what we want to do is lay them all out and say, why is this the one that you’re making? Why is this the choice? What’s the motivator? What was underneath all that? And for you, it probably in that moment was driven from love versus isolation. You know, I don’t want to be isolated. All my friends are going out. I don’t want to be alone. So, I’m going to choose to go with them. Or more accurately, I’m going to let them choose for me. And they’re choosing that we’re going to this restaurant, so I’m just going to go along with it. You don’t have to do that. There’s no obligation in that.

Gabe Howard: It sounds like a lot of this is centered around self-awareness, or is it more around someone trying to figure out the meaning of the world around them? Where is the genesis? Where does the person fit in all of this?

Christopher S. Taylor, Ph.D. LPC-S: Both. It’s both/and. And existentialism is filled with all kinds of both and either or. So, there is no there is no straight and narrow path that we all follow down. It’s the same for everybody. It’s very different for everybody. Right? So, yes, it is self-awareness. Self-awareness is the first of a three-part process that we’re going to walk through together. The first part is self-awareness. And I, I’m not surprised anymore. But, you know, clients are always surprised at when we work through this self-awareness process, how little actual self-awareness they really have because they don’t spend time. We typically do not spend a whole lot of time thinking about where this choice comes from or where this value comes from, because it’s always worked. It’s always been the way we do it. We don’t think a lot about how you’re going to get to work today. You just you just know how to get to work. You’ve been doing it for, you know, five years. Right? We just don’t think about it. You know, It’s just there. It’s just a part of me. It’s a thing. I don’t think a whole lot about my left leg. You know, I don’t sit around examining my left leg versus my right leg. It’s just it’s just been there, you know, I’m just used to it.

Christopher S. Taylor, Ph.D. LPC-S: Right. And to put it in even more perspective for you, I’d like to call it use the grandparent lens. Look at your life as if you were going to your grandparents’ house as a child. What’s the first thing your grandma always said to you? Oh, my, oh my. How big have you gotten? Look at how big you are. And you’re all like, I mean, at least I was. It’s like, what are you talking about? Like, I look the exact same, you know, but for you, you see yourself in the mirror every day. Your grandmother doesn’t see you every day. You know, at least most grandmothers don’t. So, she sees you every three months, every six months, every year, whatever it is. And in that span of time, you’ve changed radically from her point of view. So, when we’re looking at those things, we’re looking at self-awareness, building that self-awareness, right? Once we have actually achieved that, then we move into the process of self-realization. This is where I realize who I want to become, right? Who I want to be. And then from that process, which is more of a death process, we move into self-actualization. Where I become this is where that being by becoming comes back in, where I become the thing I’ve always wanted to be.

Gabe Howard: So, for somebody who is listening wondering if this is for them, they’re sitting on the fence, they don’t know if this type of therapy is going to benefit them or not. Who is the perfect client?

Christopher S. Taylor, Ph.D. LPC-S: Oh, yeah, That’s a that’s a loaded gun right there, man. Um, you know who’s the perfect client? The client that shows up and does the work, you know? But the guy that shows up does the work. Pays me on time, you know? Um, no, but really, the client, that existentialism. This is a client who is. Who is looking at their life, struggling to find meaning, is ready to do deep introspection, wants to look inside, you know, wants to do the hard work. And this is hard work. I mean, we are not we are not here talking about, you know, do these ten breathing exercises. We are excavating your soul like we are pulling stuff out of you that has been down there for a long, long time. Things that you have forgotten about. Okay. So, when that stuff comes out, it is painful, it is painful, and it can be unnerving and it can be scary. But when we stay the course, when we invest, when we when we develop faith and hope, then we can push through and find that deeper part of ourselves.

Gabe Howard: For many people, existentialism and religion do not go hand in hand. They seem to be on complete opposite sides. And people who define as, for example, Christians, they don’t want anything to do with existentialism. Are they compatible or are they on complete opposite sides of the spectrum and never the two shall meet?

Christopher S. Taylor, Ph.D. LPC-S: And so, a great question. And I get this a lot at conferences and from other individuals, other professionals that want to learn more about existentialism, how to use it. And my degree comes from a seminary as well. So, this is something that I had to struggle with as a student when I was learning existentialism and moving forward in that process. So, the answer is they absolutely are 100% compatible. You know, existentialism gets a bit of a bad rap because some of the founders were atheists or nihilists. You know, some of the individuals that added to the core tenets of the philosophical underpinnings of the of the of the philosophy. Right. That that is the bedrock for the theory. For the therapy. Right. But this is not true. Existentialism is not a one size fits all. Instead, it’s more if we’re talking computer language, it’s more open source. Right? It’s more like anybody can come in and enjoy it and experience it and it can work with anybody to improve their life. Existentialism puts you in the driver’s seat, right? You are the one that’s making the choice. You are the one that’s deciding. So, it’s not incompatible with anything. And it’s also agnostic in the sense that it does not it does not tell you which faith you have to be in.

Christopher S. Taylor, Ph.D. LPC-S: You know, it doesn’t say you must be a Christian to do this or you must be a Muslim to do this. It doesn’t have any component. It doesn’t have a dog in the fight. Right. There’s nothing that it gains from that. Now, there are there is some criticism about the you know, the fact that existentialism has no compass. Right. That you decide for yourself what the compass is. And there is some truth to that. But I think really, when we’re talking about what’s in the best interest for the individual, we’re allowing the individual to choose what that is. And when we allow them to make those choices is, you know, Kierkegaard said, When I went into the void, I found Christ at the center, right? And he is the grandfather of existentialism. So even the grandfather has a deep relationship with religion. So, I think it definitely fits into it. It’s a huge part of meaning. It’s a huge part of purpose. So, there’s a big chunk of religion in it and it’s not there and it’s not there to tell you, hey, you shouldn’t be this religion, you shouldn’t be that faith. It’s just there to help you examine more deeply.

Gabe Howard: I’ve learned a lot, Dr. Taylor. Real quick, let’s talk about your mental health group, Taylor Counseling Group. I’m assuming they use existential therapy. Tell us more about it and how folks can find them online?

Christopher S. Taylor, Ph.D. LPC-S: Um, you know, we have a few existentialists on staff. There’s not a whole lot of existential psychotherapists that really do this type of therapy specifically and directly, but you can definitely find us on the Internet. You know, the Googles at TaylorCounselingGroup.com. We have 70 therapists throughout the state DFW, Houston, San Antonio, Waco and Austin. Email us info@TaylorCounselingGroup.com and you can find us on pretty much any social media other than TikTok, because I don’t know what it is or how to use it.

Gabe Howard: And you forgot your password anyway.

Christopher S. Taylor, Ph.D. LPC-S: We forgot that password anyway, so we’re not even going to try. You know, we’ve just given up.

Gabe Howard: Dr. Taylor, thank you so much for being here. I really appreciate it.

Christopher S. Taylor, Ph.D. LPC-S: Absolutely, Gabe. It was such a pleasure. Love, love waxing existential philosophy. Anytime.

Gabe Howard: I also want to give a big thank you to all of our listeners. My name is Gabe Howard and I’m an award-winning public speaker and I could be available for your next event. I’m also the author of “Mental Illness Is an Asshole and Other Observations,” which you can get on Amazon. However, you can grab a signed copy with free show swag or learn more about me by heading over to my website gabehoward.com. Wherever you downloaded this episode, please follow or subscribe to the show. It is 100% free and you don’t want to miss a thing. And hey, can you do me a favor? Listen, recommend the show, post it on social media. Tell somebody in a support group, send somebody a text. Because sharing the show is how we grow. I will see everybody next Thursday on Inside Mental Health.

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