138. Exploring Existence and Purpose: Existentialism with Robyn Walser

Many therapists have had clients who question the purpose of existence, or who are waiting until things change to start living life fully. As Dr. Robyn Walser gently reminds us in her latest book, The Heart of ACT: Developing a Flexible, Process-Based, and Client-Centered Practice Using Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, each moment spent waiting is another moment of life gone by. In this episode, Dr. Robyn Walser, a frequent guest of the podcast, and Debbie explore the power of connecting with our own mortality and existence, in order to cultivate a greater sense of aliveness and remind us to do what’s most important today.  

“Since you’re here anyway, you’re here and you’re conscious… What will you do? You can close down, and shut down, and hide and be afraid. Or you can take risks, and open up, and taste life as much as possible.”

Dr. Robyn Walser

Listen and Learn:

  • Why getting in touch with our own death can enrich life by giving purpose to our existence.
  • How ideas from existentialism can deepen therapy sessions 
  • How we can cultivate greater meaning and purpose during times of adversity (like COVID-19)
  • Wise words for those who are reluctant to consider their own mortality
  • About the concept of “Compassionate Immediacy”
  • Some tips to infuse more meaning into day-to-day life
  • How to build perspective-taking skills to increase freedom and choice

About Robyn Walser

Headshot of Dr. Robyn Walser
Dr. Robyn Walser

Robyn D. Walser, Ph.D. is staff at the National Center for PTSD, co-director of the Bay Area Trauma Recovery Center and is an Assistant Clinical Professor at the University of California, Berkeley. As a licensed clinical psychologist, she maintains an international training, consulting and therapy practice. Dr. Walser is an expert in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) and has co-authored 5 books on ACT including Learning ACT, 2nd EditionThe Mindful CoupleACT for Clergy and Pastoral Counselors: Using Acceptance and Commitment Therapy to Bridge Psychological and Spiritual Care, and The Heart of ACT: Developing a Flexible, Process-Based, and Client-Centered Practice Using Acceptance and Commitment Therapy.


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Episode 138