Next In-Person Training Retreat: May 26th -31st, 2022!

2021’s Training Retreat Course was Approved for 33 CEs*

Track 1. The Certificate Program

EHI Certificate in the Foundations
of Existential-Humanistic Practice

Director of Clinical Training: Nader Shabahangi, PhD, MFT

The Existential-Humanistic Institute is pleased to continue to offer this unprecedented existential-humanistic program for therapeutic practitioners leading to a Certificate in the Foundations of Existential-Humanistic Practice.


Why Do Therapists Attend This Training Retreat?

“The retreat is an opportunity to be part of a community where we can think together using the themes of E-H. We can apply theories to cases, watch the work of our mentors and each other. By living together we experience an intimacy that creates an environment that reduces barriers and the ensuing connections foster a greater capacity for learning."



Leading therapy researcher Bruce Wampold suggests that “an understanding of the principles of existential therapy is needed by all therapists, as it adds a perspective that might … form the basis for all effective treatments” (Wampold cited in PsycCritiques, February 6, 2008, p.6).

Wampold’s findings along with others place E-H therapy not on the fringe but squarely at the center of psychological theory and practice as the field formulates new assumptions about what constitutes the core of practice. The intention of the certificate program coursework is to provide students with such a foundational core by integrating both theory and practice into each course.

Program Description

The theoretical portion of the program focuses on existential-humanistic therapy in general and on three of its founders, Rollo May, James Bugental, and Irvin Yalom, in particular. An overarching assumption of existential-humanistic therapy is that it is the client’s in-the-moment experiencing that forms both the underlying and actual process in therapy. This assumption anchors the existential therapist in the principles of practice that focus on experience over explanation and process over content.

The skill-development portion focuses on learning to: 

(a) identify meaning-making processes unfolding in the present moment, 

(b) illuminate these “actual but often unrecognized” processes by cultivating intrapsychic and interpersonal presence, 

(c) develop a safe and intimate therapeutic relationship, 

(d) recognize and work with existential life issues which may be present but disguised, and 

(e) recognize and work with transference and counter transference issues within an existential framework

By gaining competency in these fundamental principles, the student will have a solid core of E-H therapy practice and have a foundation from which additional modalities such as a cognitive-behavioral approach can be employed. The program is intended as a mentoring experience that emphasizes the development of the therapist trainee as a whole person, appreciating that psychotherapy is an art as much as a science.

"I was inspired to attend the retreat after reading an article in the Atlantic about Existential Therapy. I realised it was a branch of therapy that expertly cultivates awareness, presence and connection. These are the mainstays of effective coaching and the areas of my life I wanted to improve the most. I was not disappointed I came away from training with a renewed sense of the value and healing power of deep human connection.


Certificate Requirements

Approximate Length: One Year, Appx Forty-Five Hours of Experiential Training & Consultation

Three Modules and a Practicum (click for details)

This is the annual experiential training historically held as a residential retreat at Westerbeke Ranch in Sonoma, CA. In-person participation in an experiential retreat is a requirement of this Certificate program. There is an experiential evaluation on the final day of the training. This module is the only module with in-person requirements all other portions are completed remotely. 

*2021 Continuing Education: 33 CEs were approved. CE Fee: $100. For more information about the course or to discuss disability arrangements please contact Michelle through the form below.

The Existential-Humanistic Institute (EHI) collaborates with the Society for Humanistic Psychology (Division 32 of the American Psychological Association) to provide APA Continuing Education credit at approved EHI events.

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.

This is a self-directed theory course with readings and 2 papers due to meet the requirement. Students will be paired with an instructor as facilitator after the experiential training. This is 100% remote.

This module is held remote. The video consultation groups for the Foundations Certificate program meet for 1 two-hour session for 5 months via Zoom. 10-hours of consultation total. Two EHI instructors will be group co-leaders. Participants should be seeing clients (in a therapeutic setting)to join a group.

This is a remote module also. Use your learned E-H skills in your own work with clients.  

The certificate program is open to licensed therapeutic professionals (psychology, counseling, social work or therapeutic arts) who seek to enhance their clinical skills, and to full/half time students in a master’s or doctoral psychology, counseling, social work or therapeutic arts program where you are seeing clients, through work or internship.

It is also open to medical professionals and persons who currently hold at least a master’s degree in therapeutic arts and/or human services. International clinical practitioners and master’s and doctoral students in therapeutic programs listed above are also very welcome!

Past attendees have been domestic and international clinicians including: psychologists, LMFTs, LCSWs, LPCs, ministers and chaplains, medical counselors, psychiatric nurse practitioners, psychiatrists, doctors, nurse practitioners, music, art and movement therapists, and higher education faculty! 

If you have questions about whether this program might be a good fit for you please reach out prior to applying. This program is not designed for laypersons who are interested in existential theory. If you are not a therapist but would like to take the Online Theory Course described above please reach out to us about tuition and availability.

*International & out-of-state program participants: Students are only required to attend in-person the Experiential Training, that is the only mandatory travel required for this program. The other requirements are completed by you remotely and are facilitated by EHI’s instructors.

Experiential Training Course:
“Existential-Humanistic Therapy: Principles of Practice”

The mandatory 6-day, 5-night training course, historically held as a residential retreat, is the heart of EHI’s programs. It allows licensed therapeutic professionals and graduate students in psychology, counseling and therapy programs to come together in a safe environment, get to know one another, and experience how E-H therapy is practiced up close and personally. 

Kirk Schneider Introduces the Experiential Course

EHI instructors, noted leaders in the field, emphasize the key ingredients of the E-H approach, including 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.

Having the opportunity to attend the EHI experiential was such a gift!! Not only do I feel like I learned skills that have helped me in working more effectively with my clients- I feel it has changed me in the way I look at and appreciate more fully myself. Thanks again for the opportunity to be a part of EHI!!


2022 Experiential Training Course Dates

Approximately forty-five hours of programming are scheduled for this experiential. 

Dates: May 26th - 31st, 2022

The residential starts at 4:00pm on the first day and ends 2:30 pm(after lunch) on the final day. 

Westerbeke Ranch is a beautiful retreat center on acres of land in the heart of Sonoma. Built in the 30’s, the Ranch is a contemplative environment, nourishing to both body and soul. 

Westerbeke as a retreat center has historic significance for our community, as it was the meeting place for many of the seminal writers in Existential Humanistic theory and practice such as Rollo May and James Bugental.

See this short video of Westerbeke Ranch from YouTube

poolside at Westerbeke Ranch the retreat center for EHI's Existential therapy training

Contact Us

If you have any questions or need further assistance, please reach out to us. We look forward to talking with you more about the program!

Director of Clinical Training

Nader Shabahangi, PhD, LMFT


Clinical Training Coordinator

Stephanie Weissman, PsyD

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2022 Experiential
Training Flyer

Attendees Share Their Experiences