Existential-Humanistic Therapy: Contemporary Issues
Online Course Materials: Articles Audios Articles
Developed by Kirk J. Schneider, Ph.D.
Course includes a unique and classic 1981 audio recording of a presentation by Rollo May
General Course Description
This intermediate level course provides an overview of the history, background, and basic principles of three recent trends within existential therapeutic practice — existential-humanistic therapy, existential-integrative therapy, and awe-based humanistic and existential psychology. The reader will learn the history and background of these aforementioned perspectives, some basic principles and research relevant to their application, and some critiques, case conceptualizations, and implications that follow from their application. It is important to note that this course is meant only to provide an overview; for those wanting to know more, I highly recommend the readings listed in the references.
Existential humanism embraces the following three values: (1) freedom (e.g., the capacity to choose), (2) experiential reflection (e.g., the capacity for embodied, here-now awareness), and (3) responsibility (e.g., the capacity to respond to and act on that for which one becomes aware). Freedom to do is generally associated with external, physical decisions, whereas freedom to be is associated with internal, cognitive, and emotional stances. Within these values we have a great capacity to create meaning in our lives – to conceptualize, imagine, invent, communicate, and physically and psychologically enlarge our worlds. We also have the capacity to separate from others, to transcend our past, and to become distinct, unique, and heroic. Conversely, we can choose to restrain ourselves, to become passive, and to conform to others.
This course is composed of four articles and a unique and rare audio recording of Rollo May’s lecture (albeit an old scratchy recording). The first set of articles provides the basic tenets of an existential-humanistic approach to therapy — the history, background, principles, theorists, trends, and practice of existential-humanistic therapy. It also provides an overview of the experiential liberation strategy of the existential-integrative (EI) model of therapy developed by Kirk Schneider, with the inspiration of Rollo May and James Bugental. The second set of articles furnishes an introduction to the awe-based principles of well being and provides proposals to incorporate awe-based humanistic and existential principles into the settings of education, work, and governance. It also discusses the ways that positive psychology and awe-based humanistic and existential psychology can mutually benefit from each other. The third part presents an audio recording, which is a presentation by the founder of American existential psychology — Rollo May — on The Nature and Power of Myth. This rare recording eloquently and dynamically outlines Rollo’s chief concerns regarding culturally inspired belief systems, i.e., myths, as they impact both societies and individuals. In particular, he focuses on the ancient Greek myth of Orestes as well as the American myth of Horatio Alger as elucidated by F. Scott Fitzgerald in “The Great Gatsby,” to illustrate their significance for our lives. Additional resources and references are provided for further study, but they are not part of the course.
- This course will teach the participant to
- Summarize the history and background of existential-humanistic therapy.
- Summarize aspects of existential-integrative therapy.
- Relate the conceptualization of a case from an existential-humanistic and existential-integrative therapeutic standpoint.
- Summarize the principles of awe-based humanistic and existential psychology.
- Relate the conceptualization of myth to awe-based principles of psychological health and well being.
- Existential-humanistic psychotherapies
- Historical Background
- The Concept of Psychological Health and Pathology
- The Process of Clinical Assessment
- The Practice of Therapy
- Existential Stances or Conditions
- Curative Factors or Mechanisms of Change
- Treatment Applicability and Ethical Considerations
- Research Support & Case Illustration
- Current and Future Trends
- Existential processes
- The Traditional Existential Position
- Foundational Processes
- An Existential-Integrative Model and Experiential Liberation
- The Constrictive-Expansive Continuum of Consciousness
- Emma: Hyperconstriction and Complexity
- Rediscovering Awe
- Awe is our Fundamental Relationship to Mystery
- The Quick fix vs. the Slow Simmer
- The Happiness Craze/Hoax
- From Gimmickry to Awe
- Awe-based Education, Work & Democracy
- Toward a Humanistic Positive Psychology
- Broad Band vs. Narrow Band
- Problems with Narrow Band Positive Psychology
- Contradictions in the Positive Findings
- Summary and Conclusion
- Rollo May on The Nature and Power of Myth (Audio Recording)
- Definition and Overview of Myth and its Implications
- The Myth of Orestes
- The Myth of Horatio Alger
- Implications for Individuals and Society