Track 1. 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 leading to a Certificate in the Foundations of Existential-Humanistic Practice.

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 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 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 Fifty Hours of Experiential Training & Consultation

Three Modules, A Practicum and an Experiential Evaluation

*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 at your own pace and is facilitated by faculty.

Experiential Training Course
Existential-Humanistic Therapy: Principles of Practice

The mandatory 6-day, 5-night residential training course is the heart of EHI’s programs. It allows licensed 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 experience 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!!


2021 Experiential Training Course

EHI has scheduled the 2021 training course for our programs; the training will take place in October, 2021 at Westerbeke Ranch.  Approximately forty-five hours of programming are scheduled for this experiential. 

Dates: October 10th - 15th, 20201

The residential starts at 4pm on the first day and ends at 1:00pm 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

What will be different about staying at Westerbeke Ranch in 2021?

A few notes about changes to the stay at Westerbeke:
  1. Exclusive use: We will be the only group there for the week.
  2. Rooming: At this time, given current conditions, we are assigning each attendee their own room with attached bathroom. (Historically shared rooms)
  3. Meals:  The family style buffet will have staff serving from behind shields. They are slightly limited in their ability to provide very specialized diets, though they will always be careful with regards to allergy safety

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

Attendees Share Their Experiences