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Time-Limited Existential Therapy - The Wheel of Existence


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Table of Contents

Foreword ix

Preface xi

Acknowledgements xvii

About the Author xviii

Part I 1

1 Existential and Phenomonological Philosophies and the Wheel of Existence 3

2 Core of the Wheel: Time and Self 14

3 Time in Therapy: The Principal Concepts of Existential Time-Limited Therapy 20

4 Approaches to Time-Limited Therapy 30

Part II 39

Layers and Leaves: Ontologicals and Ontics 41

The Ontological Layer: Universalising 43

5 The Ontological ‘Givens’ 44

Stepping Through the Ontic Leaves: Individualising 54

6 Working with The Phenomenological Process 56

7 Establishing Safety 73

8 Discovering Anxiety 81

9 Revealing the Relationship 93

10 Exploring the Four Worlds 104

11 Clarifying the Worldview 112

12 Working with Paradox and Polarities 123

13 Identifying Choices and Meaning 132

14 Integrating Mind and Body 141

15 Understanding Authenticity 147

Afterword: COVID-19 156

References 162

Index 168

About the Author

Alison Strasser is Director of the Centre for Existential Practice in Sydney, Australia. She is also a Therapist and Therapist Supervisor in private practice, as well as an educator with a passion for imparting existential themes and integrating them into other therapeutic approaches.


"Strasser's text is so much more than a second edition. It is beautifully written, with clarity and spaciousness, and will appeal equally to the interested lay public as well as the experienced professional. It offers wisdom for daily life as well as guidance for the therapy room, finding a middle ground between the rigidity of technique and the chaos of 'anything goes'. Each point in the book is movingly illustrated with stories that readers will easily relate to. It is a little shocking that it is so shocking to have time acknowledged as absolutley fundamental to therapy and so pivotal to our understanding of how to live. Strasser's new book is a creative innovation and a useful primer for anyone thinking of embarking on therapy as either a client or as a professional career. A welcome departure from the usual psychotherapy text: I recommend it highly." 

- Dr. Greg Madison 
Chartered Psychologist (BPS AFBPsS, HCPC, Europsy)
Reg. Psychotherapist (UKCP, ECP, WCPC)
Reg. Practice Supervisor (BPS, UKCP)
Focusing Coordinator 
UK Europe International Online 

"In this new, and substantially revised, second edition of Time-Limited Existential Therapy: The Wheel of Existence, Alison Strasser retains the adventurous, investigative spirit of the first edition (co-authored with her father, Freddie Strasser) while adding to it the substantial therapeutic depth and focus which she has acquired during the intervening years. Always accessible, and packed with relevant case vignettes, the text addresses insightful ways of addressing and exploring the core concerns presented by clients within a time-limited context. Although existentially-focused, all therapists working within short term, time-limited therapy guidelines will find this important text to be a stimulating challenge to their practice."

- Professor Ernesto Spinelli
Author of Practising Existential Therapy: The relational world (2nd ed).

"The book provides a robust treatise on the topic of time as it informs the process and structure of existential psychotherapy. The case vignettes dramatically demonstrate the many ways in which temporality is an essential concern for every human being, sometimes as a welcome component, sometimes as a problem. This is an accessible and profound text that will inspire practitioners, and appeal to those who are more generally appreciative of the pilosophical approach." 

- Karen Weixel-Dixon, author of Interpersonal Conflict, an existential, psychotherapeutic and practical model 

"This is such a rich and useful text. It reads almost like a novel, giving us a tour of western existential thought, a wallflower's view of the therapy room and practical guide to working as an existential therapist. Using time as a constraint and a challenging container, Strasser straddles the conundrum of technique by refusing to ignore its inevitability and instead offers philosophical guidance and case studies, giving us principles rather than tools of practice. For the beginning therapist, this is a text to return to and for more experienced practitioners of all persuasions, this offers a deepening of our understanding of the existential therapeutic encounter."

- Zoe Krupka, Senior Lecurer, Cairnmillar Institute 

"In this 2nd edition of "Time Limited Existential Therapy", Alison Strasser presents us not only a new version, but also a maturing, broadening and deepening of the reflections present in the first edition. "Time" is the central theme that runs throughout the pages of this book, a deeply existential theme that questions and impacts us all, either because of its paradoxes or because of the tensions it causes us. In this text, we can go hand in hand with her author to reflect on the vicissitudes that time throws on the therapeutic relationship, and on the possibilities of a "time-aware therapy". After all, not only all therapy is time limited, but existence itself confronts us with its finiteness. I have no doubt that this text will expand our reflections and enhance our work as therapists, regardless of the approach, but it also offers us a diagram (or the Wheel of Existence) that is very valuable for supervision and for personal exploration work." 

-Dr. Yaqui Andres Martinez

"This book is an important and useful contributin to the therapeutic literature. The author weaves together existential philosophy about ontological givens of life together with relevant vignettes from clinical practice, doing so skilfully and in a way which makes the philosophical concepts and ideas discussed accessible. Strasser's 'time aware' or time-conscious therapy places time at the centre of the therapeutic experience and endeavor, a positioning that challenges some contemporary reactions and resistance to addressing the limits- and limitations- of time both in therapy and in life. I highly recommend this book to students and practitioners alike."

-Dr. Keith Tudor, Professor of Psychology, Auckland University of Technology, and editor of Brief Person-centred Therapies (Sage, 2008) and Transactional Approaches to Brief Therapy (Sage, 2002). 

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