Across times and cultures, people have asked questions about the nature of human existence: for instance, ‘What is the meaning of my life?’ ‘How do I cope with my mortality?’ ‘How do I make decisions in life?’ ‘How can I lead a satisfying life?’ Such questions are often in the background of our daily lives, but in certain life situations they can push themselves forward and evoke so much anxiety and uncertainty that individuals stagnate in their development. Existential therapies are a broad family of psychological interventions that can address such questions about existence; and they assume that, by overcoming existential problems, distress and psychopathology may be decreased or prevented. Members of CREST have been leading the evaluation of existential therapies, via books, literature reviews and innovative trials. For instance, our meta-analyses of all published articles on existential therapies demonstrate the effectiveness of structured interventions that directly address questions about meaning in life in individuals with physical health problems. In line with these findings, we develop and evaluate psychological interventions that for instance focus on meaning in life for individuals with cancer or chronic pain. We investigate which existential themes are important to address in therapy with which clients, what are efficient ways to address these, and what this implies for the therapeutic-relationship. We conduct cutting-edge research on the development of psychometric instruments to measure existential themes in vulnerable populations, such as existential anxiety and uncertainty. The work of CREST members has a continued significant impact on the training of counsellors and therapists world-wide, the care for cancer patients, and the development of mental health care guidelines.
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