A message from Kevin Keenan, PhD and Donna Rockwell, PsyD

Contents of this issue include discussion about DSM-5 reform, a preview of the division conference, and new newsletter feature, SHP Member Spotlight

By Kevin Keenan, PhD, and Donna Rockwell, PsyD

Welcome to the Winter update of the Society for Humanistic Psychology Newsletter. We are very excited to be co-editors of the SHP Newsletter, highlighting the events of Division 32 members, as we mark a renaissance of the Humanistic-Existential movement. Looking at life in humanistic and existential ways, and helping clients do the same, is an appropriate and timely approach to dealing with the problems-in-living that so many people face today.

In this issue, we look at the growing chorus of discontent over the proposed DSM-5, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, being written by the American Psychiatric Association and the DSM-5 Task Force. The manual is scheduled to be published in May 2013, but is in review until early 2012. Loosened diagnostic criteria opens the manual to complaints of far easier prescription power for physicians, many of whom are non-psychiatrics, who may over-prescribe antipsychotic medications and other dangerous drugs to vulnerable populations, like children and the elderly. Over 9,000 mental health professionals, including psychologists, psychiatrists, nurses, doctors, social workers, counselors, and others have added their signatures to an Open Letter Petition started by SHP members in October, 2011, asking the Task Force to open up the DSM-5 review process. In his Message from the President, David Elkins, PhD updates this issue, as well as other exciting new developments planned for the Society in the coming years.

Conference Co-chair, Brent Robbins, PhD gives a preview of the 5th Annual Conference of the Society for Humanistic Psychology, hosted by Point Park University and the Society for Humanistic Psychology, in Pittsburgh, PA, March 29 - April 1, 2012. The theme: “Person, Consciousness and Community,” will headline keynote speakers:  Isaac Prilleltensky, PhD, Constance Fishcer, PhD, and Robert Stolorow, PhD. This conference has come to be the yearly meeting place of like-minded Humanistic-Existential psychologists and students exploring what Abraham Maslow famously called “the father reaches of human nature.” We encourage everyone to attend!

Humanistic and Existential Psychology continues to experience a boost in popularity thanks to SHP members and movement leaders, including Kirk Schneider, PhD, Orah Klug, PhD and Louise Sundararajan, PhD, who are highlighted in the November, 2011 APA Monitor article, “Searching for Meaning.” A link is provided to this enriching look at existential presence in the therapy room.

As economic and geo-political events color the zeitgeist, the ability to face our lives directly becomes an important psychotherapeutic tool. Conference Co-chair, Louis Hoffman, PhD, previews the "Second International Conference of Existential Psychology: The Meaning and Inspirations of Zhi Mian", to be held at Fudan University in Shanghai, China, May 24-27, 2012. The conference theme looks at the ability to “face directly” as is emphasized in Zhi Mian Psychotherapy practiced in China. A companion piece on The New Existentialists website by Donna Rockwell, PsyD, takes a personal look at her “Journey to East” to present original mindfulness research at the conference.

Ed Mendelowitz’s column "Humanitas: Reflections on Psyche and the Arts" describes an American icon’s existential journey in: “Sun Ship: The Late Recordings of John Coltrane.” “It goes without saying,” Dr. Mendelowitz writes, “that the deity Coltrane worshipped was that Nietzschean god who had transcended the theologian’s obsession with ‘words, words, words,’ a god who knew how to dance and simply be.” Emphasizing the value of “The Arts” in the lived-world experience of human beings, this column looks at the man behind the music.

We are also happy to post our new feature, "SHP Member Spotlight", looking at contributions of Division 32 members to the Humanistic-Existential movement. We are proud to highlight our first worthy recipient: Sarah Kamens, MA, Doctoral candidate at Fordham University, and a co-author of the Open Letter to the DSM-5 Task Force and the American Psychiatric Association.

Finally, we would like to thank the ever-able Shawn Rubin, PsyD for his excellent past work on the SHP Newsletter. We hope we are able to bring half the enthusiasm and heart to the editing of the Newsletter, that Shawn has. Thank you, Shawn, for your commitment and dedication to this Newsletter and all you do for the growth of Humanistic-Existential psychology.

Members, Colleagues & Students

If you would like to share news regarding publications, presentations, achievements, personal reflections on being and becoming a humanistic psychologist, or submit a professional paper for inclusion in future updates, please email us.

We look forward to any feedback you may have, and wish everyone a healthy and happy 2012.