Online Course on Existential Therapy

This intermediate level course provides an overview of the history, background, and basic principles of two recent trends within existential therapeutic practice — existential-humanistic therapy and aspects of existential-integrative therapy. The reader will learn the history and background of these aforementioned approaches, the basic principles and research relevant to their application, and the case conceptualization that follows from their application.

Developed by Kirk J. Schneider, PhD

2 CEU’s for Psychologists, MFT’s & LCSW’s, Social Workers and Counselors, available for purchase at $19 through the Zur Institute.

Existential humanism embraces the following three values:

  1. freedom (e.g., the capacity to choose) 

  2. experiential reflection (e.g., the capacity for embodied, here-now awareness), and 

  3. responsibility (e.g., the capacity to respond to and act on that for which one becomes aware).

Freedom to do is generally associated with external, physical decisions, whereas freedom to be is associated with internal, cognitive, and emotional stances. Within these values we have a great capacity to create meaning in our lives—to conceptualize, imagine, invent, communicate, and physically and psychologically enlarge our worlds. We also have the capacity to separate from others, to transcend our past, and to become distinct, unique, and heroic. Conversely, we can choose to restrain ourselves, to become passive, and to conform to others.

Existential-integrative therapy is one way to understand and coordinate a variety of intervention modes—such as the pharmacological, the behavioral, the cognitive, and the analytic—within an overarching ontological or experiential context. Experiential, in this context, puts an emphasis on four dimensions—the immediate, the affective, the kinesthetic, and the profound or cosmic.

This course is composed of two articles. The first, “Existential-Humanistic Psychotherapies,” provides the basic tenets of an existential-humanistic approach to therapy—the history and background of existential-humanistic therapy; the basic principles of an existential-humanistic approach to therapy; discussions of leading theorists in existential-humanistic therapy; recent and future trends in the theory, research, and practice of existential-humanistic therapy; and a case that illustrates an existential-humanistic and existential-integrative approach to practice. The second article, “Existential Processes,” provides an overview of the experiential liberation strategy of the existential-integrative (EI) model of therapy developed by Kirk Schneider, with the inspiration of Rollo May and James Bugental.