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
Hosted by: Existential-Humanistic Institute
Date/Time: Saturday, January 22, 10am-1pm Pacific Standard Time
Cost: $35* General/Professional; $20 Student/Elder: $10 Economic Hardship/Equity
The Final Workshop in EHI’s Series on Depolarization!
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.
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.”
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.
Kirk Schneider, PhD
EHI President, Core Instructor
Kirk Schneider, PhD, is a licensed psychologist and leading spokesperson for contemporary existential-humanistic/integrative psychology. Dr. Schneider is a cofounder and current president of the Existential-Humanistic Institute (an award-winning psychotherapy training center), Council Member of the American Psychological Association (APA), past president (2015-2016) of the Society for Humanistic Psychology (Division 32) of the APA, and current candidate for president of the APA. He is also a moderator for Braver Angels and an adjunct faculty member at Saybrook University and Teachers College, Columbia University. A Fellow of five Divisions of the APA, Dr. Schneider has published over 200 articles, interviews and chapters and has authored or edited 13 books including The Spirituality of Awe, The Polarized Mind, Awakening to Awe, The Handbook of Humanistic Psychology, Existential-Humanistic Therapy, Existential-Integrative Psychotherapy, The Wiley World Handbook of Existential Therapy, and The Depolarizing of America: A Guidebook for Social Healing. Dr. Schneider’s work has been featured in Scientific American, the New York Times, Psychology Today and many other health and psychology outlets.
Continuing Education: TBA