Foundations in Existential-Humanistic Practice

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Certificate Program Director: Orah T. Krug, Ph.D.

Recent research places existential-humanistic therapy not on the fringe, but squarely at the center of psychological theory and practice. The Certificate program, offered by the College of Social Sciences, provides a foundational core that focuses on both theory and skill development. The theoretical part focuses on existential-humanistic therapy with an emphasis on two of its founders, Rollo May and James Bugental.

Identify and Explore Existential Life Issues

An overarching assumption of existential-humanistic therapy is that the client’s in-the-moment experience 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 part focuses on learning to:

  • Identify meaning-making processes unfolding in the present moment.
  • Illuminate these “actual but often unrecognized” processes by cultivating intra-psychic and interpersonal presence.
  • Develop a safe and intimate therapeutic relationship.
  • Recognize and work with existential life issues that may be present but disguised.
  • Recognize and work with transference and counter-transference issues within an existential framework.

By gaining competency in these fundamental principles, students will have a solid core of practice and a foundation from which additional modalities, such as a cognitive-behavioral approach, may be employed. The program is intended as a mentoring experience that emphasizes their development as a whole person, appreciating that psychotherapy is an art as much as a science.


The Certificate program, run by the Existential-Humanistic Institute and Saybrook University, is open to students in good standing. Students without previous clinical training or not involved in a clinical psychology degree program at Saybrook may be eligible if they have a strong background in existential or humanistic therapy. It will take one to two years to complete this Certificate program.


The Certificate requires five academic and experiential courses (3 credits each), plus a 1-credit final integrative paper, for a total of 16 credits.

1.  Three academic courses taken via distance learning. Instructors will be assigned after students have been accepted.

  • EHTP 2040: Existential Psychotherapies
  • EHTP 6150: Existential Psychotherapies II: Rollo May and the Existential Tradition
  • EHTP 2047: Existential Psychotherapies III: James Bugental and the Existential-Humanistic Tradition

2.  Two experiential courses:

  • EHTP 2045: Existential-Humanistic Therapy: Experiential I
  • EHTP 2046: Existential-Humanistic Therapy: Experiential II
  • These two four-day experiential courses offer a total of 48 hours of skill development training. They are held in San Francisco in October and March under the direction of instructors Orah Krug and Kirk Schneider.

3.  Final Integrative Paper (EHTP 8950: Certificate Integrative Seminar)

  • This paper synthesizes and analyzes students’ academic and experiential learning.
  • This culminating assignment also gives students an opportunity to assess their strengths, identify further learning needs, and develop a specific plan for continuing their personal and professional development in the area of existential-humanistic therapy.

4.  One year of personal therapy taken either before or during the
     year-long program is strongly recommended.

5.  As an added bonus, students enrolled in the Certificate program
     will be able to:

  • Attend the annual conference of the Existential-Humanistic Institute (EHI) in November 2013 at a reduced rate
  • Receive an additional 12 hours of skill development training, specifically intended for Certificate program students

Cost of Program

There is no additional cost for Saybrook students, except added expenses for food and lodging for the additional days needed for the experiential courses at the Residential Conference.


If students are a current Saybrook student in good-standing, students should apply and register for this Certificate program at: Complete and submit the application online. Once accepted to the program, students will receive the course registration information.