Presence, Being, Initiation: Understanding and Teaching Presence, the Lineage and Legacy of James Bugental

By Juanita Ratner, LPC, PhD Candidate Saybrook University, EHI Advanced Certificate Student


Presence is a foundational construct in humanistic, existential, and existential-humanistic psychotherapy. One of the prominent theorists and practitioners of existential-humanistic psychotherapy, James Bugental, articulated the place and meaning of presence and its relation to being or beingness. He trained and truly formed outstanding psychotherapists who continue to teach, practice, and live according to the principles they learned from him. The practice of presence must be learned experientially; those defensive fears, habitual ways of thinking, and self-limiting behaviors that stand in the way of presence must be directly seen and understood. Gradually doing this, clients can enjoy the freedom of living authentically in presence. Bugental's "Arts" courses were the medium he used to give therapists intensive exposure to conditions that supported developing presence and authenticity. The Existential-Humanistic Institute's training program, developed and offered in connection with Saybrook University, continues this formative legacy and lineage in Bugental's format, offering a similar immersive experience and training in the art of presence and connection with being.

Download and read Juanita's essay, Presence, Being, Initiation which vividly describes her experiences as a student in the E-H training program. [PDF]

Juanita Ratner is a LPC practicing in Denver, Colorado, a PhD candidate at Saybrook University, and a student in EHI's Advanced Certificate Program cohort with a first-hand knowledge of the experiential e-h therapy training first taught by Jim Bugental, PhD (EHI co-founder) and continued in EHI's current Certificate program offerings and the experiential-focused Experiential Retreat Training program.