The Existential Unconscious and The Therapeutic Relationship: Otto Rank and the Birth of Existential-Humanistic Psychotherapy
Developed and Facilitated by Otto Rank Scholar: Robert Kramer, PhD
Hosted by: Existential-Humanistic Institute
Date/Time: Saturday, March 19th, 10am-1pm PST; Online Workshop
Tickets: General/Professional-$35; Student/Elder- $20; Economic Hardship/Equity-$10
CEs*: 3 CEs approved for live presentation; $18.50 CE fee. Please connect with us for CE course info or for disability accommodation.
We invite you to join us for this webinar about Otto Rank’s influence on Carl Rogers, Rollo May and the development of Existential-Humanistic Psychotherapy, presented by pre-eminent Otto Rank scholar, Dr. Robert Kramer!
This workshop is an introduction to the central and influential role Otto Rank’s perspectives on psychology and psychotherapy have played in the development of the existential and humanistic movements within the disciplines of psychology and psychotherapy. Though many students and professionals within these fields are likely to associate Rank with Sigmund Freud and psychodynamic theories and approaches – and though many know about the key role people like Rollo May, Ernest Becker, Carl Rogers, James Bugental, Irv Yalom and Abraham Maslow have played in the development of existential and humanistic approaches – fewer are aware of the Rankian concepts that sit at the foundations of existential and humanistic psychology. In a word, Rank discovered the “existential unconscious”—an unconscious far more anxiety-proving and liberating than either the Freudian unconscious or the Jungian unconscious. Both the Freudian personal unconscious and the Jungian collective unconscious can be known. The existential (or Rankian) unconscious can never be known. It is a mystery wrapped in an enigma shrouded in darkness.
The workshop presenter, Dr. Robert Kramer, will outline Rank’s role in the evolution from first-wave, psychoanalytically-oriented psychotherapy to the third way of existential-humanistic psychotherapy, and in particular focus on Rank’s influence on Carl Rogers and Rollo May.
Workshop participants will learn about Rank’s emphasis on the therapeutic relationship as the primary agent for change, how that emphasis influenced Roger’s client-centered approach, and, in fact, helped eventually move psychotherapy away from perspectives that were based on seeing the therapist as the agent of change whose goal was to “fix” the patient. Unlike Freud, Rank also believed there was a necessity for metaphysical problems to be addressed in therapy – a position that inspired Rollo May and laid groundwork for the exploration of existential givens and cosmological forces in psychotherapy.
Dr. Kramer will also highlight Rank’s focuses on the relevance of existential anxiety as opposed to drive anxiety, and working with “patients” in the here-and-now in therapy, rather than on mining their past. This orientation toward being with and examining the living, present moment and all its possibilities and limitations is core to the existential-humanistic psychotherapeutic approach. This workshop will highlight how Rankian concepts form an existential-humanistic framework for clinical practice.
CE Learning Objectives:
- Participants will be able to: Describe at least one (1) way in which Otto Rank saw the therapeutic relationship as the agent for change
- List at least two (2) Rankian concepts that inform contemporary existential-humanistic psychotherapeutic practice
- Identify the contours of the “existential unconscious” as it emerges, through a glass darkly, in psychotherapy
Preparing for the Workshop: Important Readings & Pre-Workshop Exercise
(This info will be also be included in your Registration Confirmation Email)
Robert would like to have the attendees read this article, When We Die, and write 2 – 3 sentences of what comes to them in reading it. He will have attendees read what they wrote during the intro section of the workshop.
Two Preparatory Readings Prior to Workshop
(We will provide registrants with PDFs of this book and journal article.)
- The Birth of Relationship Therapy, by Robert Kramer [PDF]
- Kramer, Robert (2021) Discovery of the Existential Unconscious: Rollo May Encounters Otto Rank, Journal of Humanistic Psychology [PDF]
Dr Kramer would like attendees to read both of the above PDFs prior to the workshop, if possible (or at least skim through them if you don’t have enough time) – links to download both the book and the journal article will be found in your registration confirmation email.
Interested in reading an introductory article on this very same topic? EHI President, Kirk Schneider, PhD, wrote a recent article entitled “The Existential Unconscious: A Re-Visioning of Our Hidden Selves” about Dr Kramer’s work on the “existential unconscious.” Read the article on Kirk Schneider’s Psychology Today blog.
Our Presenter: Dr. Robert Kramer
Robert Kramer, PhD, is Professor of Psychoanalysis at Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest and a practicing psychoanalyst. He editor of Otto Rank’s A Psychology of Difference: The American Lectures (Princeton University Press, 1996); co-editor, with E. James Lieberman, of The Letters of Sigmund Freud and Otto Rank: Inside Psychoanalysis (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2012); and author of The Birth of Relationship Therapy: Carl Rogers Meets Otto Rank (Psychosozial Press, second ed. 2022, in press). During academic year 2015-16, he was the inaugural International Chair of Public Leadership at the National University of Public Service in Budapest, Hungary. From 2016-present he has taught at Eötvös Loránd University and at Corvinus University, both in Budapest. From 2002-2005, he was director of executive education at American University’s School of Public Affairs. In 2002, he received the Outstanding Teacher Award at AU. In 2004, he won the Curriculum Innovation Award of the American Society for Public Administration. From 2002-2004, he was an elected member of the Board of Directors of the Organizational Behavior Teaching Society for Management Educators, a group of 650 professors in leadership and management education worldwide. From 1975-2001, he served in progressively senior positions in the US government, including as a member of Vice-President Al Gore’s task force to reinvent the Federal government.
*Continuing Education: 3 CEs; CE fee $18.50. Please connect with us for CE course info or for disability accommodation.
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.