In Existential–Humanistic Therapy, Kirk J. Schneider and Orah T. Krug discuss the history, theory, and practice of this distinctly American expression of existential therapy. Existential–humanistic therapy welds the European existential philosophical heritage of self-inquiry, struggle, and responsibility with the American tradition of spontaneity, optimism, and practicality.

Contrary to its common reputation as a purely intellectual form of therapy, this approach emphasizes not only the concepts of freedom and responsibility, but experiential reflection, in which clients experience their problems in session through a process of checking in with their affective and bodily sensations. The goal of this therapy is to help clients free themselves from self-imposed limitations and come to a deeper understanding of their authentic life goals, versus those imposed by others or by a rigid sense of self. This approach, which is becoming increasingly integrative, is applicable in a wide array of settings and diagnostic populations and, because of its emphasis on key contextual factors, is increasingly influential on the therapeutic profession as a whole.

In this book, Dr. Schneider and Dr. Krug present and explore this approach, its theory, history, the therapy process, primary change mechanisms, empirical basis, and future developments. This essential primer to existential–humanistic therapy, amply illustrated with case examples, is perfect for graduate students studying theories of therapy and counseling as well as for seasoned practitioners interested in understanding this approach.

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Table of Contents

Series Preface

  1. Introduction
  2. History
  3. Theory
  4. The Therapy Process
  5. Evaluation
  6. Future Developments
  7. Summary


  • Appendix A. Short-Term Case 2: Hamilton
  • Appendix B. Summary of Experiential Stances of the Existential–Integrative (EI) Model
  • Appendix C. Phases of Change in a "Typical" Long-Term Existential Therapy
  • Appendix D. Long-Term Case 2: Claudia

Glossary of Key Terms

Suggested Readings/Web Resources



About the Authors

Author Bios

Kirk J. Schneider, PhD, is a licensed psychologist and leading spokesperson for contemporary humanistic psychology. He is current editor of the Journal of Humanistic Psychology, vice-president of the Existential–Humanistic Institute, and an adjunct faculty member at Saybrook Graduate School and the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco. He is also a fellow of the American Psychological Association.

Dr. Schneider has published over 100 articles and chapters and has authored or edited eight books, The Paradoxical Self: Toward an Understanding of Our Contradictory Nature; Horror and the Holy: Wisdom-Teachings of the Monster Tale; The Psychology of Existence: An Integrative, Clinical Perspective (with Rollo May; currently being translated into Chinese); The Handbook of Humanistic Psychology: Leading Edges in Theory, Research and Practice (with J. Bugental and J. F. Pierson); Rediscovery of Awe: Splendor, Mystery, and the Fluid Center of Life; Existential–Integrative Psychotherapy: Guideposts to the Core of Practice (Chapter 5 currently being translated into Russian); and Awakening to Awe: Personal Stories of Profound Transformation. Most recently, Dr. Schneider coauthored with Ed Mendelowitz the chapter on Existential Psychotherapy for Corsini and Wedding's Current Psychotherapies (8th ed.).

Dr. Schneider is the 2004 recipient of the Rollo May award for "outstanding and independent pursuit of new frontiers in humanistic psychology" from Division 32 (Humanistic Psychology) of the American Psychological Association and the 2009 Cultural Innovator Award from the Living Institute of Toronto, Canada. In March 2010, Dr. Schneider is slated to deliver the keynote speech at the first East–West Existential Psychology Conference in Nanjing, China.

For further information about Dr. Schneider, visit his Web site at http://www.kirkjschneider.com/.

Orah T. Krug, PhD, is a licensed psychotherapist with a private practice in Oakland, CA. She is the clinical training director of the Existential–Humanistic Institute of San Francisco and teaches at Saybrook Graduate School.

Dr. Krug received her PhD from Saybrook Graduate School where she was awarded the Rollo May Scholarship for an essay comparing the theoretical approaches of her two mentors, James Bugental and Irvin Yalom. She has produced two videos, Conversations With Jim and "Joe": A Demonstration of the Consultation Process, with James Bugental and Orah Krug.

Her current research focuses on the relationship between the cultivation of intra- and interpersonal presence and the contextual factors of therapy associated with therapeutic change. Her article in the Journal of Humanistic Psychotherapy, "James Bugental and Irvin Yalom, Two Masters of Existential Psychotherapy Cultivate Presence," begins an exploration of this research.

Dr. Krug may be reached by e-mail.

Reviews & Awards

I wish I could have read this book 50 years ago when I began practicing existential–humanistic psychotherapy, building on valuable prior training in psychodynamic theory and practice. And I wish Rollo May, Jim Bugental, and others had lived to see their work so well explicated and extended to help people deepen their meaningful engagement in life. Schneider and Krug have gifted us with a book that enriches this profound movement to make psychotherapy good for the soul.
—Thomas Greening, PhD, International Editor, Journal of Humanistic Psychology, Los Angeles, CA

This is a very good book, presented as an introduction to existential–humanistic therapy. It is so good that, once read, it will create a hunger to discover more about this very important approach to psychotherapy.
—Daryl S. Paulson, PhD, AHP Perspective, August/September 2011

An admirable contribution...Schneider and Krug do a superb job of explaining basic existential theory for the reader unfamiliar with modern-day existential thought.

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