Existential-humanistic psychology recognizes that an essential part of becoming a good therapist is developing a way of being that is healing. This makes the journey to becoming an existential-humanistic therapist a personal and transforming journey. In Becoming an Existential-Humanistic Therapist, editors Julia Falk and Louis Hoffman have collected the stories of 11 influential existential-humanistic therapists, including Kirk Schneider, Lisa Xochitl Vallejos, Ed Mendelowitz, Katerina Zymnis, Mark Yang, Myrtle Heery, Nathaniel Granger, Orah Krug, Xuefu Wang, Kathleen Galvin, and Shawn Rubin. As these prominent leaders share their stories of becoming, they also consider what it means to be an existential-humanistic therapist and their vision for the future of this school of psychotherapy.

Alongside these stories, HeeSun Park reviews two important research studies on becoming an existential-humanistic therapist while Falk and Hoffman highlight the central themes emerging from the narratives. Park, Falk, and Hoffman also share their own stories of becoming. The book concludes with reflective exercises for individuals considering pursuing a career as an existential-humanistic counselor or therapist, as well as exercises for current therapists to reflect upon their own journey. Whether already an existential-humanistic therapist wanting to reflect upon your journey or a student considering pursuing becoming an existential-humanistic therapist, this volume is essential reading to clarify and deepen one’s journey.

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Becoming an Existential-Humanistic Therapist: Narratives from the Journey is a fascinating and unique book. It presents a vision one rarely encounters, a collective autobiography of the many paths taken as these therapists sought a calling centered within the Existential-Humanistic tradition. The editors chose a stunning array of individuals to tell their stories and the ways in which their mentors and patients helped shape their practices and lives: Men and women, young and old, various religions and ethnicities, varieties of sexuality, all benefiting from a method that at its best fosters an expansive and creative attitude toward self and life.

Robert H. Abzug
author of Psyche and Soul in America: The Spiritual Odyssey of Rollo May

One can study the “how-to’s” of becoming an existential-humanistic therapist for years, but our paths are ultimately lit by encounters with others—and with ourselves—along our journeys. The stories in this book are more than professional narratives. They are stories of experiencing pain and learning to overcome—of reaching for light, touching it, and learning to wield it for others. They are stories that touch the depths of the soul. Becoming an Existential-Humanistic Therapist is a must-read for both aspiring and seasoned existential-humanistic therapists.

Sarah Kamens, PhD
Editor, Journal of Humanistic Psychology
Assistant Professor of Psychology, State University of New York College at Old Westbury

Becoming an Existential-Humanistic Therapist  presents a diverse group of travelers on the journey to becoming psychotherapists. They find disappointment in the limitations of mainstream psychotherapies that promise quick fixes for human suffering. They seek to understand human experience without pathologizing it. The professional is personal along these roads less traveled as we see personal and professional lives unfolding along parallel paths.

Kevin Keenan, PhD
Core Faculty, Michigan School of Psychology
Co-Editor, Humanistic Psychotherapies: Handbook of Research and Practice

Becoming an Existential-Humanistic Therapist is a collection of narratives containing vulnerable discomfort, honest reflections, and ways of being, which stands to demystify the term existential into its more authentic form of seeing humanity and how choices from within one’s struggle form these stories of existence–both personally and professionally. These varied voices and perspectives stand to strengthen the understanding of existential therapy through the breadth and depth of their sharing.

Michael Moats, PsyD
Author, Sunrise Through the Darkness (with Will Jimeno)
Psychologist in Private Practice

Table of Contents


Louis Hoffman & Julia Falk

Chapter 1: Existential-Humanistic Psychology: Connecting to Values
HeeSun Park

Chapter 2: Kirk Schneider’s Path to Existential-Humanistic Psychology
Kirk J. Schneider & Andrew M. Bland

Chapter 3: My Existential Journey
Lisa Xochitl Vallejos

Chapter 4: Middle Europe: Journey and Madrash
Ed Mendelowitz

Chapter 5: Becoming an Existential-Humanistic Therapist
Katerina Zymnis

Chapter 6: An Existentialist for Eternity
Mark Yang

Chapter 7: Looking Over My Shoulder
Myrtle Heery

Chapter 8: Fifty Years of Evolution: Becoming an Existential Therapist on the Journey to Becoming My Authentic Self
Nathaniel Granger, Jr.

Chapter 9: Standing on the Shoulders of Giants: Becoming an Existential-Humanistic
Orah T. Krug

Chapter 10: My Journey to Existential Psychology: A Dialogue with Colleagues at the Zhi Mian Institute
Xuefu Wang

Chapter 11: It Began in My Father’s Library: On Becoming an Existential Therapist
Kathleen Galvin

Chapter 12 : The Making of a Counterculture Therapist
Shawn Rubin

Chapter 13: Concluding Thoughts
Julia Falk & Louis Hoffman

Appendix A: Activities for Students Considering Becoming an Existential-Humanistic Therapist
Louis Hoffman & Julia Falk

Appendix B: Guides for Reflection on One’s Journey to Becoming an Existential-Humanistic Therapist
Louis Hoffman & Julia Falk

About the Editors