Archived: Training Course Description
Though this course description is labelled archived the description will be updated each year as soon as the proposal has been accepted and approved by our cosponsor, DIV32, The Society of Humanistic Psychology. In between trainings this course description will reflect the last year’s proposal. Please note that the training curriculum is similar from year to year with variations each year in some activities and special sessions. The course is designed with the intention that it can be retaken to assist in deepening the skill set and as a refresher for the skills practiced. Each year we have returning students who bring their perspectives and their real world use of the skills taught here which deepens the experience for those new to the course and to E-H Therapy.
2023 Course Description and Overview:
The Principles of Existential-Humanistic (E-H) Therapy Practice training is intended to give participants an in-depth introduction to the foundational clinical skills practiced when utilizing an E-H model in psychotherapy. This residential training will provide hands-on opportunities for participants to gain a felt understanding of how to work with clients from an E-H perspective. Activities will be facilitated by EHI instructors and will emphasize effective relational and experiential methods with clients that enable therapeutic change.
This workshop is intended as a skills-development training on how to:
- Cultivate therapist and client presence, both as the ground of therapy and one of its primary objectives
- Focus on the “living moment” in working with the “here-and-now” phenomenological experience of clients
- Help clients differentiate between primary, direct experience and secondary, interpretive experience
- Understand the meaning-making process and the formation of “Self-and-World Constructs”
- Work with the client’s ways of being in the therapy session – and therefore, the world
- Identify how the therapist’s and client’s multicultural contexts overlap or hold different values
- Explore examples of the application of E-H principles of practice in dreamwork, Existential-Integrative approach, working with core protective patterns and a method of depolarizing social conflicts utilizing a method called Experiential Democracy Dialogue
- Utilize the therapist-client relationship to help the client adaptively shift unhelpful ways of being
- Identify and work through clients’ inner battles in order to support their longings to emerge and feel greater agency and authorship in their lives
- Integrate and embody theoretical beliefs and authentic sense of self with E-H principles in practicing psychotherapy
The workshop will emphasize the relational and experiential foundations of E-H therapy and delve into the four dimensions of the therapeutic encounter: the person of the client, the person of the therapist, the interpersonal and the cosmological. Within the first dimension, focus will be given to how the client shows up “in the room” and relates to the therapist, and on understanding the client’s personal context, meaning-making process and Self-and-World Construct. Within the second dimension, focus will be given to identifying ways into presence and ways the therapist’s own context and constructs show up in the work. The workshop itself will embody and model the relational foundation of E-H therapy, highlighting skills that aid the therapist in utilizing the therapeutic relationship to help clients work through inner battles. The cosmological will inform all we do in the training, with focus on existential givens, universality and helping participants support clients in noticing and addressing the existential predicaments and wonders of their lives.
The workshop involves a combination of relationship-building, teaching of theoretical foundations and first-hand experiences wherein theory comes to life. At times, this may involve faculty members demonstrating their way of working with clients and inviting discussion in large groups; at other times, participants work in dyads or with each other or a faculty member and receive direct feedback from faculty as they work
The Experiential Training
The Core of EHI Programs
This experiential training is the heart of EHI’s programs. It allows licensed professionals and graduate students in psychology or counseling 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. All EHI’s education programs feature this experiential training.
Thursday, May 26, 2022
Thursday Part I: The Experiential Foundations of E-H Therapy
Thursday Description and Overview:
E-H therapy is also founded upon an experiential- and phenomenologically-oriented focus in working with clients – with what is most alive in the moment. It prioritizes nurturing an expansion of the client’s primary, direct, phenomenological experiencing while also increasing awareness and understanding of the client’s secondary experiencing (meaning-making) – and differentiating between the two. E-H-oriented therapists pay close attention to the client’s unique personal and relational processes (ways of being) over and above the content presented, and work to help the client stay in contact with what is unfolding in those processes in the here-and-now.
We will start the training exploring our similarities and differences in respective personal contexts and emphasizing presence in the here-and-now. In the first session on the introduction to the Experiential Foundations of E-H Therapy will work to cultivate primary experience personally and interpersonally. We will finish the day with a skills activity that will utilize story creation to discover aspects of an individual’s personal context.
Thursday Learning Objectives
Participants will be able to:
- Identify two (2) ways that E-H therapy is experientially-oriented.
- Explain the importance of therapeutic presence in E-H therapy.
- Describe what is meant by personal context in E-H therapy.
Friday Part II: The Personal and Interpersonal Dimensions: Working in the Here-and-now and Personal Context, the Meaning-Making Process and the Creation of Self and World ConstructsCE: 7.75 Friday Description and Overview There are Four Dimensions of the Therapeutic Encounter: a) Person of the client: A subjective focus on the client’s “self;” b) Person of the therapist: A subjective focus on the therapist’s “self;” c) Interpersonal: A relational, intersubjective focus between client and therapist; and d) Cosmological: An existential experience of “being alive in the world”. Being present to all four therapeutic dimensions is crucial since all four are “actual” in the present moment, manifesting in body language, attitudes, behaviors, dreams, etc. All four provide ways of participating in the feelings and world of the client. There will be a short introductory lecture and we will view a video of Jim Bugental in sessions that exemplify the four dimensions and then we will break into small groups for discussion with a focus on the four dimensions.
Personal and Interpersonal Dimensions: Working in the Here-and-NowA relational or interpersonal focus directs our attention to the relationship in the “here and now” and a relational focus directs our client to the relationship as it is unfolding in the “here and now.” A relational or interpersonal focus is based on several key assumptions: (1) a safe and intimate therapeutic relationship cultivates healing and change, (2) many people who come to therapy have difficulty relating to others, and (3) people in therapy relate with us in the same manner that they relate outside of the therapy room with others. There are numerous benefits to working with a relational or interpersonal focus: it brings the therapy immediately into the here and now, it engenders a sense of greater transparency, intimacy, and provides us with the ability to give feedback about therapeutic enactments in real time. We will go over how the client tells us his or her story, how to pay attention to the client’s unique “music and movement” underlying the words and how to identify what meanings about self, others and world are manifesting in the here-and-now. This experiential focus helps vivify the client’s core protective patterns that are concretely manifesting in the here-and-now as part of the interpersonal process. We will have an introduction to working in the here-and-now and engage in an exercise where we will practice micro-skills to experientially focus on the here-and-now.
The Personal Dimension: Personal Context, the Meaning-Making Process and the Creation of “Self and World Constructs”The meanings made from lived experiences create a set of “self and world constructs” that allow individuals to understand their nature and their experiential world. Rollo May called this shaping of reality or consciousness passion for form, which results in, as May put it, an “I am” experience. We introduce the term “self and world constructs” which relates to how the client implicitly understands and manifests through behaviors and attitudes his or her own nature and relationship to the world. “Self and world constructs” are the foundation of our personal context that varies, influenced by the cultural, historical, and cosmological experiences of each individual. Herein lie two key concepts of “Personal context” and “Meaning making.” There will be didactic lecture with discussion, a hands-on activity with a debrief and Q&A. Through the activity, participants will identify and examine their own patterns of behavior and histories to understand better what they bring to the therapeutic encounter. This will aid them in identifying the countertransference that can arise when working with a client. To wrap up the day’s sessions we will delve into the use of poetry in therapy. Poetry provides an impetus and framework for deepening empathy and understanding of self and others. Poetry offers an avenue to access emotions, memories and impressions from the unconscious and conscious self in connection with the world. Through the use of poetry, both meaning and vulnerability may be discovered and we will explore this with a guided activity. Friday Learning Objectives
- Identify the four (4) dimensions of the therapeutic encounter.
- Define how the use of broadens clients’ awareness of themselves
- Describe how working in the “here-and-now” can be used to cultivate presence.
- Identify two (2) ways that E-H therapy is relational.
- Demonstrate use of three (3) micro-skills of “working in the here-and-now.”
- Describe two (2) skills for bringing awareness to the client’s core protective patterns.
Saturday Part III: The Personal and Interpersonal DimensionsCE: 7.5
Saturday Description and Overview
The Personal and Interpersonal Dimensions Multicultural ContextPresenters will speak about the history of Existentialism, with an emphasis on the recognized need for the integration of voices other than those of E-H’s historically emphasized white male forefathers of European descent. We will look at ongoing efforts to acknowledge and integrate the contributions of both women and persons of color to the field. Students will learn to identify their own cultural contexts, to recognize their own assumptions about their fellow students, and to identify how their own patterns of making assumptions will inevitably affect their work with clients. Group discussion will focus on ways of working with clients whose cultural background differs from the therapist.
Working with “Self and World Constructs” and/or with Clients’ “Inner Battles”Experientially-oriented therapists know they don’t have to go on a treasure hunt to understand the client’s past—it’s right in front of them! If therapists bring a full and genuine presence to the encounter, they can empathically enter their clients’ experiential worlds and know them as they are and the meanings they have made about themselves and their lives. The meanings made from lived experiences create the foundation which individuals use to understand their nature and their experiential world. Rollo May called this shaping of reality or consciousness passion for form, which results in, as May put it, a “I am” experience. We introduce the term “self and world constructs” which relates to how the client implicitly understands and manifests through behaviors and attitudes his or her own nature and relationship to the world. How we construct ourselves is the foundation of our personal context that varies, influenced by the cultural, historical, and cosmological experiences of each individual. Herein lie two key concepts of “Personal context” and “Meaning making.” There will be didactic lecture and demo with discussion, a small groups practice activity with a debrief and Q&A. The process of illuminating the life stance (or core protective pattern) that both echoes and transcends the client’s painful event(s) and then helping him or her to re-claim the disowned feelings hidden behind the stance is the life-changing work of E-H therapy. The deepest roots of trauma cannot be talked about or explained away; they must be discovered, felt, and lived through. Change is evidenced when new meanings about self are made (e.g., “I no longer feel damaged—I feel loveable.”). These new meanings about self typically result in a construction of more functional patterns of living and relating to others. In this segment, we will look at how a clients social and personal constructs can change over time, and how working with layers of protection is often integral in the process of “working through.” There will be didactic lecture and demonstration with an activity of triad work and discussion.
Examining the Limits to Full PresenceWe will examine our own limits to full presence when working with our clients. As we discovered in our sessions today, the meanings that we make throughout life become our personal context. Our personal context, when unexamined, can become limiting to our ability to be fully present with certain clients, particularly those who trigger aspects of our context. Through lecture, discussion and activity we will look at possible limits to our own full presence in working with clients.
Saturday Learning ObjectivesParticipants will be able to:
- Describe one E-H strategy for working with a patient from a culture that is different from the therapist’s.
- Discuss how recognizing and supporting the contributions made to E-H psychotherapies by women and people of color can result in more relational and inclusive approaches.
- Describe two (2) of the benefits of focusing on the Interpersonal Dimension in psychotherapy.
- Apply two (2) skills for helping the client see themselves more clearly in the context of the therapeutic relationship.
- Identify when a client has made a change in personal meaning making.
- Define two (2) factors that might limit the therapists’ full presence in work with a client.
Sunday Part IV: E-H Therapy as an Adaptable Approach: Dreams, Existential-Integrative Therapy, and Experiential DemocracyCE: 6.5
Sunday Description and Overview:Today will take a look at a few different ways in which E-H therapy practices have been adapted and applied in therapeutic work.
Dream Work: A Method to Deepen Connection to the Cosmological DimensionDreams represent a restatement of the client’s deeper problems, only in a different language—a language of visual imagery. The agency of the mind turns feelings, attitudes, and experiences into visual form (e.g., a journey, a dilapidated house, descending into a basement, etc.). From an E-H perspective, the point is not to fully and accurately interpret the dream—it can’t be done, and misses the point. Just as we will learn to work with clients’ processes in the here-and-now, E-H dream work involves bringing the dream into the here-and-now in order to find what is most alive, most curious, most baffling or disturbing to the client, and to facilitate an in vivo exploration, often leading to deeper contact with a less conscious part of oneself. Working with dreams from the Humanistic perspective, in this case from the Gestalt Therapy perspective, the dreamer is helped to play out parts of his or her dream as aspects of their own existence, i.e. a working through of the dream as a present event rather than past history and as action rather than a basis for interpretation. Attendees will get an introduction to dream work through a Gestalt/E-H lens, a demonstration and have an opportunity to discuss.
Ways We Apply E-H Therapy: Existential-Integrative ApproachesThe ongoing and implicit questions of Existential-Integrative (E-I) therapy, at every point of the work, are 1) “How is the client presently living?” and 2) “How is the client willing to live,” in this remarkable moment, with this highly attuned witness? Put another way, the general idea of EI therapy is to assist clients to optimize choice (freedom) within the natural and self-imposed limitations of living. These limits may emphasize one’s physiology, environmental conditioning, cognitive capacity, range of affect, and so on. Generally, the greater clients’ desires and capacities for change, the more they can become present to themselves and the more they can “occupy,” that is, be present to the denied sides of their (self–world) existence. This lecture will introduce E-I approaches through lecture, demonstration and a dyad activity and discussion.
Experiential Exercise: Embodiment of the development of the “Spacesuit”: Examining self-protections and core-protective patterns in clients.Using an approach akin to the use of “family sculpting” in family therapy, the facilitator will have participants engage in an activity where they create and play the key components/processes in the development of an individual’s self-protective ways of being and core-protective patterns– the protective “spacesuit” one “wears” in order to feel safe out in the world. The exercise will also have participants consider the therapist’s experience in encountering this “spacesuit”of core protective patterns and how the therapist might support the client in seeing and addressing ways of being that are overly limiting or self-defeating as well as life-preserving.
Applying E-H Principles and Approaches to Real World Issues: An Experiential Democracy Dialogue to Support Social Healing and Address Global Issues That are PolarizedThe Experiential Democracy Dialogue was developed by Kirk Schneider as a way to apply E-H principles of practice to the depolarization of social conflicts both in one’s everyday life and with clients through a guided dyad exercise. Its chief aims are to deepen therapists’ capacities to be present to the (social/cultural) “otherness” in themselves and others (that is in everyday life and with clients); and to learn about and understand this otherness–which is key to the phenomenological dimension of E-H practice. This exercise can mediate conflict by fostering presence and working in the here-and-now in a structured dialogue format designed to allow to individuals with conflicting viewpoints to work through phases that give each person an equal forum to express their view; the intended goal is creating an avenue for further depolarized discussion.
Sunday Learning ObjectivesParticipants will be able to:
- Explain the difference between interpretive and experiential methods of dream work.
- Describe two of the principles of the Existential-Integrative (E-I) model.
- Identify how a person’s core-protective patterns can be both protective and limiting.
- Describe how the therapist’s awareness of their own core-protective patterns can influence their relationship to their client.
- Apply the principles of the Experiential Democracy Dialogue.
Monday Part V: The Cosmological Dimension and Bringing the Dimensions Together with Case ConceptualizationsCE: 5.25
Monday Description and OverviewThere are Four Dimensions of the Therapeutic Encounter: a) Person of the client: A subjective focus on the client’s “self;” b) Person of the therapist: A subjective focus on the therapist’s “self;” c) Interpersonal: A relational, intersubjective focus between client and therapist; and d) Cosmological: An existential experience of “being alive in the world”. Being present to all four therapeutic dimensions is crucial since all four are “actual” in the present moment, manifesting in body language, attitudes, behaviors, dreams, etc. All four provide ways of participating in the feelings and world of the client. Regarding the Cosmological Dimension, E-H therapists prioritize supporting clients in exploring existential issues – especially death, identity, meaningfulness, freedom, responsibility, limitation, separateness, expansion and contraction. All human beings must cope with the givens of existence in one way or another – and the shared experiences of being human mean that therapist and client alike are “fellow travelers” trying to find the best ways to cope: the extent to which we as therapists are able to accept and constructively cope with the existential givens is the extent to which we will be able to help our clients accept and cope. Many givens come with inherent conflicts and an E-H perspective focuses on helping clients more clearly and adaptively work with those conflicts:
- The wish to live but the inevitability of death;
- The wish for safety and control but the reality of life’s contingencies,
- The wish for freedom but the burden of responsibility and choice,
- The wish to be close but the fear of loss, rejection or abandonment,
- The desire for meaning and purpose but the awareness of life’s potential meaninglessness (and groundlessness).
Bringing the Four Dimensions of the Therapeutic Encounter TogetherWe will bring together through demonstration, feedback, and group discussion the E-H principals we have been engaging with this week: cultivating a relational space, attending to the four dimensions of the therapeutic encounter (including one’s own personal context), and providing a relational mirror for our client about what is unfolding in the here-and-now. Integrating the preceding sessions, we will approach hypothetical cases working from an E-H perspective. An Instructor and advanced student will first demonstrate a case conceptualization using a here-and-now approach working with a student volunteering to role-play a client. A group discussion of the demo will follow; we will give specific attention to observing and linking back to aspects of the four dimensions, working with the process over content, and self and world constructs in the discussion. Then students will have a chance to practice in dyads the case conceptualization working in the here-and-now with a volunteer role-playing a client and then switch roles. Again, each practice will be followed by discussion and input from instructor, with a specific focus on tying the work back to E-H theory, as well as offering students feedback about their growing edge as a burgeoning E-H therapist. We will take time to discuss the integration of the E-H perspective, reviewing techniques for integrating the principles and discussing aspects of the work that still challenge us. Monday Learning Objectives:
- List at least four (4) existential givens.
- Describe two (2) of the paradoxes with the givens of existence.
- Conceptualize clients utilizing the 4 dimensions of the E-H perspective.
- Identify the importance of the awareness of the Cosmological Dimension in E-H therapy.
Tuesday Part VI: Attendee Final E-H Demos w/ Feedback and EvaluationsCE: 3
Tuesday Description and OverviewIn this final session of the workshop we will first meet as a large group with the faculty for an opportunity to review and/or clarify any principles and then we will break into dyads where the partners can do role plays with a faculty observer who can provide feedback. We will finish the session with a final large group debrief for feedback. We will close the workshop with a sound circle and share a final meal.
Tuesday Learning ObjectivesParticipants will be able to:
- Incorporate working in the here-and-now in clinical work.
- Demonstrate the use of therapeutic presence.
The Instruction Team
Kirk J. Schneider, PhD, President
Nader R. Shabahangi, PhD, LMFT, Clinical Co Director, VP
Nance Reynolds, PhD, LCSW, Clinical Co Director
Sonja Saltman, LMFT, Communications Director
Doug Silberstein, LMFT, Treasurer
Stephanie Weissman, PsyD, Clinical Coordinator
It is the policy of EHI to make every reasonable effort to provide qualified students with disabilities with the opportunity to take full advantage of its programs.
If you have a disability, please contact us ahead of time so we can work with you arrange the programming to needs. Please contact either our Admin, Michelle or our Clinical Director, Nader, through our Contact page to make arrangements.
The Foundations of Existential-Humanistic Therapy Practice course is designed for psychologists and clinical therapists, and provides existential-humanistic therapy practice to social workers, nurses, doctors, and counselors. The residential retreat is mandatory for all students enrolled in an EHI educational program. EHI’s educational programs are open to licensed professionals who seek to enhance their clinical skills and to Masters and Doctoral students in the therapeutic disciplines.
If you have questions about whether you might qualify please contact Michelle, Program Admin or Stephanie, Clinical Training Coordinator via our Contact page here.
Enrollment Fees and Registration
For descriptions of each enrollment track including cost and how to apply please visit each enrollment track’s program page:
2022 Course Provides Continuing Education Credit for Psychologists
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.