Training in the Practice of Existential Therapy
2020 Residential Retreat Course Description

EHI Clinical Director: Troy Piwowarski, PsyD
Co-author of a chapter in Handbook of Humanistic Psychology.

The Experiential Training Residential is for Therapeutic Professionals Looking to add Existential-Humanistic Therapy to Their Practice

The 2019 Retreat was held in Sonoma, California - May, 2019
2020's training will be held in same location: May 26-31, 2020

The 6-day, 5-night experiential residential course is the core of EHI's training. It allows licensed professionals and graduate students in psychology or counseling to come together in a safe environment, get to know one another and experience how Existential-Humanistic therapy is practiced up close and personally.

YES! I would like EHI News!




westerbeke-retreat-experiential-therapy-practice-march-2016 2

EHI Faculty emphasize the key ingredients of the Existential-Humanistic (E-H) approach, including presence, empathy, acceptance, and genuineness, to model how trainees can create safe, collaborative and life-changing therapeutic encounters. They demonstrate how the therapeutic relationship, in and of itself is a vehicle for healing and change and how therapeutic "presence" cultivates sensitivity and appropriate responsiveness to clients emotions, relational patterns and inner worlds.These two essential principles: building the therapeutic relationship and working in the "here and now" are the foundational blocks of E-H therapy and EHI training.

2019's Course Description - 2020 to be similar

The Foundations of Existential-Humanistic Therapy Practice

The experiential training course in the Foundations of Existential-Humanistic Therapy Practice is intended to give participants hands-on experiential opportunities to gain a deeper understanding of how to work with clients from an E-H perspective. Experiential activities will be facilitated by an EHI faculty member and will emphasize effective relational and experiential techniques that enable therapeutic change.

This course is intended as an E-H Therapy Practices skill-development training course and includes learning to: (a) cultivate presence and the I-Thou relationship, (b) identify meaning-making processes unfolding in the present moment, (c) illuminate these "actual but unregarded" processes by cultivating interpersonal presence, (d) develop a safe and intimate therapeutic relationship, (e) recognize and work with existential life issues which may be present but disguised, and (f) recognize and work with transference and counter transference issues within an existential framework.

Participants will learn and explore first-hand the relational and experiential foundations of E-H Therapy. The course will delve into four dimensions of the therapeutic encounter: personal, interpersonal, and the cosmological. Participants will learn about personal contexts and the meaning-making process. Included in the course is a segment on Dream Work from an E-H perspective and a segment on diversity in which participants will learn of the growing impact of multiculturalism in current E-H Therapy theory and the work being done to address incipit bias in practice. Participants will learn the basics of Existential-Integrative(E-I) therapy and will be given a demonstration of the E-I approach dealing with a hypothetical client's self-protections. Participants will learn how contextual factors research supports the validity of the E-H orientation as an evidence-based therapy. Various challenges, limitations, and innovations in both the relational and experiential approaches will be discussed. To conclude the course the participants will bring the four dimensions of the therapeutic encounter from an E-H perspective together and demonstrate case conceptualization from an E-H perspective.

The residential involves a combination of relationship-building, learning of theoretical foundations, and first-hand experiences wherein theory comes to life. At times, this may involve faculty members demonstrating their way of working with clients and inviting discussion; at other times, participants work in dyads with each other, and receive direct feedback from faculty as they work.

Course Learning Objectives:

At the end of Day1/Part I participants will be able to:

  1. Define what is meant by the term “primary experience.”
  2. Define what is meant by the term “secondary experience.”
  3. Identify, in a case presentation, a primary experience.
  4. Identify, in a case presentation, a secondary experience.
  5. Describe at least two ways that E-H therapy is relational.
  6. Give an example of a relational moment in a psychotherapy session.
  7.  Explain the concept of “relational space.”
  8.  List the factors that help establish a safe container for the therapeutic encounter.
  9.  Identify two therapeutic modalities that contain experiential components.
  10. Define the term “experiential approach” as it applies to psychotherapy.
  11.  Describe what is meant by "working in the here-and-now."

At the End of Part II participants will be able to:

  1. Define and differentiate between the four dimensions of the therapeutic encounter.
  2. Summarize two of the benefits of working with a relational focus in psychotherapy.
  3. Demonstrate, through role-play, the ability to call attention to the “here and now.”
  4. Define the term “self and world constructs.”
  5. Define the term “tagging.”
  6. Define the term “expanding on content.”
  7. Define the term “expanding on meanings.”
  8. Explain what is meant by “slowing down/tuning in.”
  9. Explain what is meant by “reflecting protective ways of being.”
  10. Describe/define the concept of “personal meaning making.”
  11. Identify examples of personal meaning making as demonstrated in a role play.
  12. Identify 2-3 examples of personal meaning making in their own lives.
  13. Explain the significance of different functions of attention in various levels or types of presence.
  14. Identify factors that interfere with presence.
  15. Describe at least two ways that presence and being are theoretically connected.
  16. 17. Explain how mythology provides a subjective view into deeper meanings about self and others.

At the end of Part Day 3/III participants will be able to:

  1. Identify what is meant by “existence” within the E-H model.
  2. Identify what is meant by “the existential givens” within the E-H model.
  3. Identify what is meant by “fellow travelers” within the E-H model.
  4. Identify what is meant by "inner battles" within the E-H model.
  5. Describe 2 of the basic paradoxes within the givens of existence.
  6. Identify a “core protective pattern” as it appears in a client.
  7. Assess their own reactions to the concept of “presence.”
  8. Assess their own difficulties in being present.
  9. Discriminate between the different levels of presence.
  10. Delineate ways that the EHI approach is appropriate to working with different cultural groups.
  11. Identify their own multicultural context through significant memories and messages throughout life.
  12. Identify specific challenges they experience in working with people from different cultural value systems.

At the end of Day4/Part IV participants will be able to:

  1. Describe the value of working with dreams.
  2. Explain the difference between interpretive and experiential methods of dream work.
  3. Explain what is meant by "every part of the dream represents the dreamer."
  4. Demonstrate the application of the basic principles of the Existential-Integrative (EI) approach to therapy.
  5. Incorporate presence, invoking the actual, and working with self-protections in working with clients. 
  6. Describe how two of the principles of the EI model can be integrated into mainstream clinical settings.
  7. Define what is meant by “vivifying resistance.”
  8. Define what is meant by “confronting resistance.”
  9. Outline the concept of “freedom” as it applies to a specific client.
  10. Identify self-protective ways that clients can block themselves from exercising their freedom.
  11. Describe how to “invoke the actual” (guide the client’s attention toward a deeper exploration of feelings in the here-and-now) within the E-H model.
  12. Describe ways of understanding the client that go beyond what the client says.
  13. Describe the difference between the EH concept of “life limiting protections” and the concept of “defensiveness” found in other therapeutic modalities.
  14. Demonstrate the ability to effectively work with a client from a different worldview.
  15. Define the term “polarization” from an E-H perspective.
  16. 16. Identify one personal worldview that is difficult to sit with in the presence of a client holding an opposing view.

At the end of Day 4/Part V participants will be able to:

  1. Define what is meant by the “cosmological dimension” as used within the E-H model.
  2. Describe the meaning of “the therapeutic encounter” within the E-H model.
  3. Define what is meant by “the personal dimension of the therapist.”
  4. Define what is meant by “the personal dimension of the client.”
  5. Explain how the two concepts of “the personal dimension of the client” and the personal dimension of the therapist interact with each other in the E-H model.
  6. Explain the concept of the “interpersonal dimension” within the E-H therapeutic encounter.
  7. Identify ways that the E-H model can be integrated into other models of psychotherapy.
  8. Integrate the myriad concepts that they have been learning into an overall understanding of their work with one hypothetical client in a E-H case conceptualization.
  9. Define the concept of the “growing edge” as it applies to the therapist.
  10. Identify one’s own growing edge.
  11. Explain at least one way that they now think differently about their own work with clients.
  12. Demonstrate the ability to formulate a case conceptualization for one of their clients.

Course Outline:

                      Day 1/Part 1 -4.75 Continuing Education Hours

  1. Introduction to the 6-days of Curriculum & the Faculty (no hours awarded)
    Instructors: Troy Piwowarski, Kirk Schneider, Nader Shabahangi
  2. Curriculum Overview
  3. The Relational Foundation of Existential-Humanistic (E-H) Therapy (1.25 hours)
    Instructors: Troy Piwowarski, Kirk Schneider, Nader Shabahang
  4. The Experiential Foundation of E-H Therapy (2 hours)
    Instructors: Troy Piwowarski with Faculty
  5. I-Thou Relationship Activity (1.5 hours)
    Instructors: Troy Piwowarski with Faculty
  6. Day 2/Part II - 8 Hours Continuing Education Hours

  7. Intro to the Four Dimensions of the Therapeutic Encounter (1.5hours)
    Instructors: Troy Piwowarski
  8. Intro to the Personal and Interpersonal Dimensions: Working in the “Here-and-Now” (1.5 hours)
    Instructors: Troy Piwowarski with Faculty
  9. The Personal Dimension: Personal Context, the Meaning-Making Process and the Creation of Self and World Constructs (1.75 hours)
    Instructors: Troy Piwowarski with Faculty
  10. The Context Bag (2 hours)
    Instructors: Troy Piwowarski with Faculty
  11. Locating Ourselves in Myth: Storytelling by the Fireplace (1.25 hours)
    Instructors: Nader Shabahangi, Kirk Schneider, Troy Piwowarski
  12.                   Day 3/Part III - 7 Continuing Education Hours

  13. Large Group Check-in (no hours awarded)
    Entering the third full day of the training, check in about how it’s going.
  14. XII. The Personal and Interpersonal Dimension: Multicultural Context (2 hrs)
    Instructors: Nader Shabahangi, Troy Piwowarski, Kirk Schneider
  15. The Personal and Interpersonal Dimensions: Working with Self and World Constructs and/or with Clients’ “Inner Battles” (1.75 hours)
    Instructors: Troy Piwowarski, Kirk Schneider, Nader Shabahangi
  16. Personal and Interpersonal Dimensions: Examining Limits to Full Presence (2.25hours)
    Instructors: Kirk Schneider, Troy Piwowarski, Nader Shabahangi
  17. Activity: Relational Challenges (1.00hr)
    Instructors: Troy Piwowarski, Nader Shabahangi, Kirk Schneider
  18.                   Day 4/Part IV - 5.25 Continuing Education Hours

  19. Dream Work:  A Method to Deepen Personal Process (1.25hrs)
    Instructors: Troy Piwowarski, Kirk Schneider, Nader Shabahangi
  20. Existential-Integrative Approaches (1.5 hours)
    Instructors: Kirk Schneider, Troy Piwowarski, Nader Shabahangi
  21. Personal and Interpersonal Dimensions: Understanding the Relationship Between Client’s Concrete “Way of Being” and Personal Context (1.75hrs)
    Instructors: Nader Shabahangi, Troy Piwowarski, Kirk Schneider
  22. The Experiential Democracy Dialogue: An E-H Approach to Social Healing (2 hrs)
    Instructors: Kirk Schneider, Nader Shabahangi, Troy Piwowarski
  23.                   Day 5/Part V-5.25 Continuing Education Hours

  24. Group Check-in (no hours awarded)
    Instructors: Troy Piwowarski, Nader Shabahangi, Kirk Schneider
  25. The Cosmological Dimension: Working with Existential Issues Such as Existential Identity, Death, Freedom and Responsibility, and Separateness (1.5 hours)
    Instructors: Kirk Schneider, Troy Piwowarski, Nader Shabahangi
  26. Bringing the Dimensions Together: Case Conceptualization from an E-H Perspective (3.75hrs)
    Instructors: Troy Piwowarski, Kirk Schneider, Nader Shabahangi
  27.                  Final Day

  28. Review and Evaluations (no hours awarded)
    Instructors:Troy Piwowarski, Nader Shabahangi, Kirk Schneider

Instructional Methods:

The presentation will include both didactic and experiential components with some demonstration and discussion. The experiential components will be in the form of group activities and dyads where participants can put the theories into practice.


Existential-Humanistic Therapy, in general, is well established in the literature with good research support including both quantitative and qualitative research. However, not all the new innovations which will be discussed have been adequately researched. In the presentation, the faculty will clearly identify which innovations have not been adequately researched yet.


The faculty of EHI and instructors of this course have authored and contributed to the publication of many books in the field of existential-humanistic therapy. The statements below list out the instructors’ publications that will be referenced in the course and the instructors’ relationship regarding financial benefit from the sale of the individual publications.

Kirk Schneider is co-author of Existential-Humanistic Therapy, published by the APA, and will benefit financially from royalty payments from the sale of this book.

Kirk Schneider is the author of Existential-Integrative Psychotherapy: Guideposts to the Core of Practice, published by Routledge, and will benefit financially from royalty payments from the sale of this book.

Kirk Schneider is a co-editor of The Handbook of Humanistic Psychology, published by SAGE, and will benefit financially from royalty payments from the sale of this book.


Bachelor, A. (1988). How clients perceive therapist empathy: A content analysis of “received” empathy.  Psychotherapy, 25, 227-240.

Bohart, A.C. (2000a). Paradigm clash: Empirically supported treatments versus empirically supported psychotherapy practice.  Psychotherapy Research, 10, 488-493. 

Bohart, A.C. (2000b). The client is the most important common factor.  In A.C. Bohart (Ed.). The client as active self-healer in psychotherapy: implications for integration.  Journal of Psychotherapy integration (Special Issue). 10, 127-149.

Bozarth, J.D. (2001).  The art of “being” in psychotherapy.  The Humanistic Psychologist, 29, 167-203.

Bugental J. (1999). Psychotherapy Isn’t What You Think. Phoenix, AZ: Zeig, Tucker.

Bugental, J. (1992). The Art of the Psychotherapist.  New York: W.W. Norton & Company.

Carter, R.T. (1995). The Influence of race and racial identity in psychotherapy: Toward a racially inclusive model. New York: Wiley.

Comas-Diaz, L. (2012). Humanism and multiculturalism: An evolutionary alliance. Psychotherapy, 49, 437-441.
Hurtado, A. (2010). Multiple Lenses: multicultural feminist theory. In H. Landrine & N.F. Russo (Eds.). Handbook of diversity of feminist psychology. New York: Springer.

Downing, Jack. (1973). Dreams and Nightmares: A Book of Gestalt Therapy Sessions. Gouldsboro ME: The Gestalt Journal Press.

Geller, S.M. and Greenberg, I.S. (2002). Therapeutic presence: Therapist’s experience of presence in the psychotherapy encounter. Person-centered and Experiential Psychotherapies I (1-2), 71-76.

Grawe, K. (1977). Research-informed psychotherapy. Psychotherapy Research, 7, 1-20.

Hall, James A. (1983) Jungian Dream Interpretation: A Handbook of Theory and Practice. Toronto: Inner City Books.

Hillman, James. (1979). The Dream and The Underworld. New York: Harper and Row.

Lam, A.G., & Zane, N.W.S. (2004). Ethnic differences in coping with interpersonal stressors: A test of self-constructs as cultural mediators. Journal of Cross Cultural Psychology, 35, 446-459.

May, Rollo. (1969) Love and Will. New York: Norton and Company.

Myers, S. (2000). Empathic listening: Reports on the experience of being heard. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 40(2), 148.

Norcross, J.D. (Ed.) (2002). Psychotherapy relationships that work: Therapist contributions and responsiveness to patients. New York: Oxford University Press.

Schneider, K.J.(Ed.) (2007) Existential-Integrative Psychotherapy: Guideposts to the Core of Practice. Abingdon: Routledge.

Schneider, K., and Krug, O. (2017). Existential-Humanistic Therapy (2nd ed.). Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association.

Schneider, K.J., Pierson, J.F., Bugental, J.F.T. (Eds.) (2015) The Handbook of Humanistic Psychology. Los Angeles: Sage.

Wampold, B.E. (2001). The great psychotherapy debate: Models, methods, and findings. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Yalom, I. (1980). Existential Psychotherapy. New York: Basic Books.

Brief Biographies:

Troy Piwowarski, PsyD, is licensed psychologist with a private practice in San Francisco and Berkeley, CA. He is the Clinical Director, EHI Faculty and an active Board member. He played an instrumental role in the launch of the certificate training program at EHI in 2012. He earned his doctorate in clinical psychology at the Michigan School of Professional Psychology in Detroit, MI, a school rooted in the work of Clark Moustakas. Troy is also an avid writer and has investigated how phenomenologically-minded therapists attune to their clients as persons-in-context in his dissertation. He has published one article on Terror Management Theory entitled "The Effects of Mortality Salience and Belief in Afterlife on the Manifestation of Homonegativity," is a co-author of a chapter in the second edition of The Handbook of Humanistic Psychology entitled "Cultivating Psychotherapist Artistry: Model Existential-Humanistic Training Programs," and has edited two books by Nader Shabahangi on revaluing eldership in our culture. He is currently co-authoring a chapter on ethical considerations in practicing E-H psychotherapy with Orah Krug and Kirk Schneider for The Oxford Handbook of Psychotherapy Ethics.

Kirk J. Schneider, PhD, is a leading spokesperson for contemporary existential-humanistic psychology. Dr. Schneider was honored to serve as the 2015-2016 president Society for Humanistic Psychology of the American Psychological Association. He is a recent past editor of the Journal of Humanistic Psychology (2005-2012), cofounder and current president of the Existential-Humanistic Institute (EHI), and adjunct faculty at Saybrook University and Teachers College, Columbia University. A Fellow of the American Psychological Association (APA), Dr. Schneider has published over 100 articles and chapters and has authored or edited 10 books (several of which have been translated into Chinese, Korean, German, Portuguese, Greek, Turkish, Russian, and Slovakian). These books include The Paradoxical Self, Horror and the HolyThe Psychology of Existence (with Rollo May), The Handbook of Humanistic Psychology (with James Bugental and Fraser Pierson—recently updated for a second edition), Rediscovery of AweExistential-Integrative PsychotherapyExistential-Humanistic Therapy (with Orah Krug), Humanity’s Dark Side: Evil, Destructive Experience, and Psychotherapy(with Art Bohart, Barbara Held, and Ed Mendelowitz), Awakening to Awe, and most recently, The Polarized Mind and The Handbook of Humanistic Psychology(with James Bugental and Fraser Pierson—just updated for a second edition).

Nader R. Shabahangi, Ph.D., received his doctorate from Stanford University and is a licensed psychotherapist. In 1992 he founded the non-profit organization Pacific Institute with the purpose of training psychotherapists in a multicultural, humanistic approach to counseling and to provide affordable therapy services to the many diverse groups living in San Francisco. In 1994 he developed an innovative Gerontological Wellness Program to provide emotional support and mental health care services for the elderly. In 1997, together with his two brothers, Nader opened a residential care home for the elderly in San Francisco called Hayes Valley Care, where he could along with the Pacific Institute Internship team implement the Gerontological Wellness Program. Nader continues to create programs with the purpose of caring more comprehensively for the elderly. In 2002 he helped found Pacific Institute Europe in Warsaw, Poland, to bring gerontological and comprehensive care services to the European continent. He continues his work by training interns and supervisors in a humanistic-existential approach to psychotherapy and living. His is a note author, philosopher and presenter on existential-humanistic therapy for the aging and for those diagnosed with dementia. His books include, Ambiguity of Suffering, Deeper into the Soul, Faces of Aging, Conversations with Ed, and is the editor of the recently published Springs of Action.


The Foundations of Existential-Humanistic Therapy Practice course is designed for psychologists and clinical therapists, and provides existential-humanistic therapy practice to social workers, nurses, doctors, and counselors. The residential retreat is mandatory for all students enrolled in an EHI educational program. EHI's educational programs are open to licensed professionals who seek to enhance their clinical skills and to Masters and Doctoral students in the therapeutic disciplines.

If you have questions about whether you might qualify please write Roby at Info[@]

Program Fees and Registration

For descriptions of each program including cost please visit the program page:

2019 Course Provided Continuing Education Credit for Psychologists

APA Division 32, Society for Humanistic Psychology is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. APA Division 32, Society for Humanistic Psychology maintains responsibility for this program and its content.

The 2019 experiential training course, The Foundations of Existential-Humanistic Therapy Practice, was approved for 32.5 hours for Psychologists.

  • The Society for Humanistic Psychology (SHP) is accredited to offer Continuing Education (CE) credit through the American Psychological Association. As a registered attendee, you are welcome to sign up for CE’s even if you are not a psychologist; however, it is your responsibility to know whether your state board will accept these or not.
  • If you have questions or concerns about the CE process, please contact the SHP CE Chair, Brian Hanna, at (224) 585-3325 or brian[@] 

Grievance Procedure for CE Program

  • Please download the Grievance Procedure here [.docx] or Contact our Clinical Director, Troy Piwowarski at info[at] for a copy of the Grievance Procedure. You may also call us at (415) 689-1475 to arrange for a copy of the Grievance Procedure.