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Depolarizing Therapeutic Presence w/ Kirk Schneider, PhD

January 22, 2022 @ 10:00 am 1:00 pm

image with title of Depolarizing Therapeutic Presence

Depolarizing Therapeutic Presence: Utilizing Concepts of the “Experiential Democracy Dialogue” to Help Therapists Reduce Polarization With Clients

Developed and Facilitated by EHI Core Instructor: Kirk Schneider, PhD, EHI President

Date: Saturday, January 22, 2021

Time: 10:00 am – 1:00 pm Pacific Time Zone /Sign in to waiting room at 9:45am 

Online: via Zoom and Zoom Breakout Rooms 

3 CE hours available(live presentation participation)*. Fee: $18.50. Please contact us for more info regarding the course.

Registration Fee: Cost: $35 General/Professional; $20 Student/Elder: $10 Economic Hardship/Equity;No one will be turned away due to lack of funds—please reach out to Michelle via contact form at the bottom of page for assistance.

This is the final webinar in our Depolarization Series.

This workshop will provide skills for therapists who are challenged by the cultural and political stances of their clients and want to more effectively work through their own charged internal reactions that could adversely affect the therapeutic relationship.

Dr. Schneider will introduce the concept of the “polarized mind” (the fixation on a single point of view to the utter exclusion of competing points of view), which he developed based on extensive existential-depth and social-psychological research on the roots of human destructiveness. Emerging from concern about the destructive effects of intra-psychic and societal polarization, along with a deep interest in helping individuals and communities depolarize, Dr. Schneider spent over fifteen years developing a one-on-one depolarization dialogue format called the “Experiential Democracy Dialogue” (detailed in his book, The Depolarizing of America: A Guidebook for Social Healing). This approach is a hybrid of his experience as a leading figure in the existential-humanistic psychological and psychotherapeutic movements with his experience as a trained moderator for the nation-wide organization called “Braver Angels.” Braver Angels is a grass-roots citizens’ movement that uses a highly structured group (and individual) format to bring self-identified liberals and conservatives together for “living room” style dialogues.

As a conflict mediation approach that is informed by components of existential-humanistic psychotherapy, the Experiential Democracy Dialogue is a unique resource for clinicians struggling with the ways that socio-cultural and political differences affect them in the therapeutic encounter. These struggles might even be more intense today than previously, given the context of intense socio-political polarization, potentially making it even harder for therapists to sit with difference with their clients. Though the actual format of the Experiential Democracy Dialogue is not in and of itself suitable to be used between therapist and client, techniques and concepts from this approach can be utilized by therapists to more adaptively work with their own challenging and charged feelings as they arise in therapy, mainly by helping them develop skills to be more present to clients from highly contrasting backgrounds, develop greater capacities to empathize with and find common ground with such clients, and develop greater capacities to experience curiosity and enhance exploration with such clients who formerly elicited anguish or even revulsion. The concept and practice of “presence” plays a central role in this process and will be emphasized by Dr. Schneider.

In this workshop, Dr. Schneider will outline five phases of the Experiential Democracy Dialogue – Guided Visualization, Providing Background, Taking a Stance, Identifying Stereotypes and Results/Discovery – and then demonstrate how going through these phases can help therapists feel a greater openness toward and gain a greater understanding of their clients. Participants will then be placed into dyads to go through this process together. Participants will then be able to reflect on and begin to integrate how utilizing Experiential Democracy Dialogue techniques and core concepts can help strengthen their therapeutic relationships with clients who hold strong cultural and political differences from them.


Participants will be able to:

  • Define the use of “presence” in the Experiential Democracy Dialogue
  • Identify two (2) concepts of the Experiential Democracy Dialogue that they can use to depolarize in relationship to clients’ beliefs
  • List two (2) ways that utilizing the Experiential Democracy Dialogue techniques can strengthen the therapeutic relationship

*Continuing Education Info

3 CEs Approved. Please contact us for more info regarding the course. or to request disability accommodations. 

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.

Download the Workshop Flyer!


January 22, 2022
10:00 am – 1:00 pm
$10 – $35
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Existential-Humanistic Institute
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