Existential Psychology East-Westis a collection of chapters exploring existential psychology in a cross-cultural context. The original version was published in preparation for the First International Conference on Existential Psychology held in Nanjing, China in 2010. This revised and expanded edition includes several updated chapters as well as five new chapters. The book consists of three sections. The first section provides an introduction to existential-humanistic psychotherapy along with a case illustration. Section 2 contains 13 chapters from Eastern and Western scholars exploring the theory of existential psychology. The third section contains 10 chapters building from Rollo May’s work on myth. Each chapter explores the existential themes of a myth embedded within a particular cultural context. The book concludes with an Annotated Bibliography of important works in existential psychology. Existential Psychology East-West is an important contribution to the field with many influential Eastern and Western scholars including Kirk Schneider, Xuefu Wang, Ilene Serlin, Mark Yang, Ed Mendelowitz, Heyong Shen, Erik Craig, Myrtle Heery, Alan G. Vaughan, Louis Hoffman, and Nathaniel Granger, Jr.


Existential psychology is more relevant to the contemporary world than ever before. This dynamic and provocative anthology not only presents an authoritative history and descriptions of the topic, but includes chapters by Chinese psychologists who have found ways in which existentialism both resonates and contrasts with Asian wisdom traditions. This is a cutting edge book that needs not only to be read, but to be applied to the human condition, both East and West.

Stanley Krippner, PhD Professor of Psychology, Saybrook Graduate School
Co-Editor, The Psychological Impact of War Trauma on Civilians

Face-to-face interaction in China led to virtual collaboration in writing this book. With the perspectives of scholars in both the USA and China represented, a true dialogic relationship is evident in this collection. Differences and difficulties in cultural understandings of existentialism are addressed forthrightly which deepens the reflection process that is a hallmark of existential psychology. Existential Psychology East-West also serves as a bridge to Chinese/Asian traditions as they are articulated from an existential perspective. What a terrific model for cross-cultural collaboration and dialogue!

David Lukoff, PhD

In this collection of 20 chapters entitled Existential Psychology East-West, the authors have brightly limned the commonalities and differences in Eastern and Western mentalities and their respective approaches into the “vasty deep” of human joy and anxiety, pleasure and suffering, enduring human values and personal ephemerality, and the emic and personological peculiarities of individuals in the various cultures that are clustered in these two hemispheres. The indigenous existentialism they each, separately, have in common provides a bridge for readers to understand each other in both universes of discourse.  The Human in its sociality and individuality is treated without sentimentality and with scholarship. This book is not an ideational blender. Free of bromides and clichés, Existential Psychology East-West respects the distinctness and beauty of stand-alone paradigms for, and cultural visions of, the Human. This book makes a significant contribution to its domain of interest.

Frank Dumont, EdD
Full Professor (retired), McGill University, Montreal, Quebec

Existential Psychology East-West will appeal to anyone with an interest in understanding themselves and the nature and nurture of the human condition. Reading EPEW is like encountering a great river. It courses through the existential terrain and draws from many tributaries. It is both mysterious and inviting, beckoning the reader: ride the currents, plumb the depths, drink from the water.

Kevin Keenan, PhD
Faculty, Michigan School of Professional Psychology

Table of Contents


Poetic Preface
Tom Greening

Donadrian L. Rice

Introduction to the First Edition
Louis Hoffman, Mark Yang, Albert Chan, & Francis J. Kaklauskas

Introduction to the Second Edition
Louis Hoffman, Mark Yang, Francis J. Kaklauskas, Albert Chan,& Monica Mansilla

Part 1: Overview of Existential-Humanistic Theory & Practice

Chapter 1: Introduction to Existential-Humanistic Psychology in a Cross-Cultural Context
Louis Hoffman

Chapter 2: An Existential-Humanistic Psychotherapy Case Illustration
Louis Hoffman & Nathaniel Granger

Part 2: East and West Perspectives on Existential Psychology

Chapter 3: Existential-Humanistic Psychology Dialogues in China: Beginning the Conversation
Christy Thrash, Francis J. Kaklauskas, Michael Dow, Elizabeth Saxon, Albert Chan, Mark Yang, & Louis Hoffman

Chapter 4: Further Development of Existential-Humanistic Dialogues in Southeast Asia
Anne Hsu, Rodger Broomé, Monica Mansilla, Evone Phoo, Jason Dias, Michael Moats, Louis Hoffman, & Mark Yang

Chapter 5: Tao, Daesin, and Psyche: Shared Grounds for Depth Psychotherapy
Erik Craig 

Chapter 6: Spiritual Warrior in Search of Meaning: An Existential View of Lu Xun through His Life Incidences and Analogies
Xuefu Wang

Chapter 7: Existentialism, Taoism, and Buddhism: Two Views
Kirk J. Schneider & Benjamin Tong

Chapter 8: Existential Themes in the Parables of Jesus
Mark Yang

Chapter 9:  The Heart of Jungian Analysis and Existential Psychotherapy
Heyong Shen

Chapter 10: Global Authenticity
Myrtle Heery

Chapter 11: Zhuangzi’s View of Freedom
Zhaohui Bao

Chapter 12: A Contemplative Approach to Existential Psychotherapy: Mindfulness as Existential Praxis
Michael M. Dow

Chapter 13: In and Out of the Distress: A Survival Philosophy of Shi Tie-Sheng
Wensheng Wang

Chapter 14: Dream Idioms: Using Chengyu, Idioms, and Proverbs to Interpret Dreams
Richard Bargdill

Chapter 15: The African Usage of Existential Psychotherapy
Anthony K. Nkyi

Part 3: Existential-Humanistic Perspectives on Culture and Myths

Chapter 16: Gordo’s Ghost: An Introduction to Existential-Humanistic Perspectives on Myth
Louis Hoffman

Chapter 17: The Kemet-Egyptian Myth of Osiris and Isis: The Eternal Drama of Creation, Generativity, Destruction, Death, Rebirth, and Resurrection of the Human Spirit
Alan G. Vaughan

Chapter 18: On Existential Aloneness: The Earthly Pilgrimage
Emory G. Cowan, Jr.

Chapter 19: In Harmony with the Sky: Implications for Existential Psychology
Albert Chan 

Chapter 20: The Myth of Obedience: An Existential Analysis ofAmerican Beauty
Cathy Calvert, Kate Calhoon, Steve Fehl, & Christine Gregory

Chapter 21: Funerary Rituals in China, Confucianism, and the Existential Issues of Death and Meaning
Bohan Zhang

Chapter 22: Brokeback Mountain: A Gay and Universal Love Story
Ilene Serlin

Chapter 23: Building the Great Wall of China: Postmodern Reverie and the Breakdown of Meanings
Ed Mendelowitz

Chapter 24: Kisagotami, Buddha, and Mustard Seeds: An Existential Psychological Perspective
Francis J. Kaklauskas & Elizabeth A. Olson

Chapter 25: Junkanoo: A Bahamian Cultural Myth
Heatherlyn Cleare-Hoffman                           

Appendix: Annotated Bibliography of Works Related to Existential-Humanistic Psychology
Christopher S. M. Grimes, Ashley Whitaker, Matthew Thelen, Erica Palmer, Michael Moats, M. Chavis, Ellen Marsalis, Barbara Dobson, Geneva Shewmaker, Kirk J. Schneider, Tori Bowers, & Louis Hoffman 

Editor Biographies

Contributors Information


About the Editors 

Louis Hoffman, PhD, is a licensed psychologist in private practice in Colorado Springs and teaches at Saybrook University. He is also a co-founder of the International Institute of Existential-Humanistic Psychology (www.iiehp.org), and regularly travels to China to offer teaching and training relevant to existential and humanistic psychology. Dr. Hoffman has been recognized as fellow of the American Psychological Association (APA) and five of its divisions (Divisions 1, 10, 32, 36, & 52) for his contributions to the field of psychology. With 15 books and over 100 articles/book chapters to his credit, he is an avid writer, including poetry, journal articles, book chapters, and books. He serves on the editorial boards of the Journal of Humanistic Psychology,The Humanistic Psychologist, and Janus Head. Also committed to service, Dr. Hoffman is the current president of the Rocky Mountain Humanistic Counseling and Psychological Association (www.rmhcpa.org), is a past president of the Society of Humanistic Psychology (APA Division 32), and serves of the board of the Humanitarian Alliance. Most importantly, Dr. Hoffman is a husband and father. He enjoys living in beautiful Colorado Springs with his wife, children, and two dogs.

Mark Yang, PsyD, is a United States licensed clinical psychologist and co-founder and director of the International Institute of Existential-Humanistic Psychology (www.iiehp.org), whose mission is to promote Existential-Humanistic Psychology and provide counseling skills training to mental health professionals in Asia.  He is actively involved in the training and supervision of psychology students from the Existential-Humanistic Perspectives throughout Asia. His professional interests include existential psychology, individual and group psychotherapy, grief and bereavement counseling, legal and ethical issues in clinical practice, and cross-cultural psychology.  Dr. Yang is the editor of the book Existential Psychology and the Way of the Tao:  Meditations on the Writings of Zhuangzi.  He is also the co-editor of the books Existential Psychology: East-West Volumes 1 & 2.  Dr. Yang was born in Taiwan and immigrated with his family to the United States when he was nine years old.  He is also a dog and cat lover.

Francis J. Kaklauskas, PsyD, is a licensed clinical and organizational consulting psychologist. He has worked in a variety of clinical setting including community mental health, dual diagnosis residential treatment, forensic psychology, and private practice.  He is core faculty at Naropa University’s Graduate School of Counseling and Psychology and directs the Group Psychotherapy Training Program at the University of Colorado. His publications cover a wide range of topics including the goals and techniques of process groups, spirituality and psychology, and the practical integration of clinical theory and empirical informed approaches. He has served as lead editor and author on several books Brilliant Sanity: Buddhist Approaches to Psychotherapy, Shadows and Light: Theory, Research, and Practice in Transpersonal Psychology (Vol. 1 & 2)and Core Principles of Group Psychotherapy: A Theory-, Practice- and Research-Based Training Manual.

Albert Tsun-Hung Chan, PsyD, is the Head and Professor of the School of Psychology, Gratia Christian College and a Senior Clinical Psychologist of Maggie’s Cancer Caring Centre at Tuen Mun Hospital in Hong Kong.  In the summer 2018, he was invited as a Visiting Professor for the Department of Counselling Psychology, Faculty of Education, McGill University in Montreal.  In addition, he is the founder of the Institute for Family and Psychology.  He practices across the fields of social work, clinical psychology, and marriage and family therapy.  Since 2012, he has been giving trainings and consultation on clinical psychology and marriage and family therapy to various mental health hospitals and community agencies in the major cities of China including Beijing, Shanghai, Nanjing, Guangzhou, Kunming, and Hong Kong.

Monica Lily Mansilla, PhD, is the founder and clinical director of the Relational Path Institute (www.relationalpath.com),whose mission is to promote the Existential-Humanistic approach to couple therapy and mindfulness in the Middle East, Australia, and Spain. Dr. Mansilla holds a doctorate in Psychology and two doctoral level certifications including International Psychology and Existential Humanistic Psychology. She developed the Humanistic-Existential Approach to Relationship Therapy HEART, which she teaches to psychotherapists and psychologists around the world. She also developed the Mindfulness Based Approach to Existential Therapy MBExist, which she utilizes in mindfulness groups, and she teaches to mindfulness group leaders.  Dr. Mansilla has been recognized with the Rollo May Scholarship Award for the Advancement of Existential Humanistic Theory. She is currently developing the first HEART Centre in the Middle East, with the mission of exclusively providing Existential-Humanistic counseling and psychotherapy to individuals, families, and groups.  Having recently relocated to Canada, she considers herself a citizen of the world, being born and raised in Guatemala, developing her adult years in Canada, having lived, worked, and develop her theories in Qatar, and having traveled over 40 countries while developing her interest in International Psychotherapy.

Contributor Information

Zhaohui Bao, Nanjing University, Nanjing, China.

Richard Bargdill, PhD, Teaching Associate Professor, Virginia Commonwealth University.

Victoria Bowers, MA, Saybrook University, Oakland, CA.

Rodger Broomé, PhD, Assistant Professor, Utah Valley University.

Kate Calhoon, PsyD, Private Practice, Denver, CO.

Cathy Calvert, PsyD, Gallogly Recreation and Wellness Center, University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.

Albert Chan, PsyD, Head and Professor of the School of Psychology, Gratia Christian College; Senior Clinical Psychologist of Maggie’s Cancer Caring Centre at Tuen Mun Hospital in Hong Kong.

M. Chavis, MA, Independent Researcher.

Heatherlyn Cleare-Hoffman, PsyD, Gallogly Recreation and Wellness Center, University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.

Emory G. Cowan, Jr., PhD, Retired, Colorado Springs, CO.

Erik Craig, PhD, Private Practice.

Jason Dias, PsyD, Assistant Professor of Psychology, Pikes Peak Community College, Colorado Springs, CO.

Barbara Dobson, MSc, Saybrook University, Oakland, CA.

Michael M. Dow, PsyD, Program Manager with Mental Health Partners, and private practice in Boulder, CO.

Christy Thrash, PsyD, Gallogly Recreation and Wellness Center, University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.

Steve Fehl, PsyD, Bereavement Care and Grief Counseling, Colorado Springs, CO.

Nathaniel Granger, Jr., PsyD, Saybrook University, Oakland, CA.

Christine Gregory, PsyD, Colorado Mental Health Institute-Pueblo, Violence Risk Assessment Specialist, Pueblo, CO.

Tom Greening, PhD, Professor Emeritus, Saybrook University, Oakland, CA.

Christopher S. M. Grimes, PsyD, Director, Program for Psychology & Religion, St. Louis Behavioral Medicine Institute; Assistant Clinical Professor, Department of Family & Community Medicine, St. Louis University School of Medicine.

Louis Hoffman, PhD, Faculty, Saybrook University; International Institute for Existential-Humanistic Psychology, Colorado Springs, CO.

Anne Hsu, PhD, Founder and Clinical Psychologist, True Colorado Psychological Clinic (Taiwan); Faculty and Chairperson, Grand Canyon University.

Francis J. Kaklauskas, PsyD, Core Faculty, Naropa University.

Monica Mansilla, PhD, Founder and Clinical Director, Relational Path Institute.

Ellen Marsalis, MA, Retired.

Ed Mendelowitz, PhD, Saybrook University, Oakland CA; lecturer, Tuff Medical Center, Boston, MA.

Michael Moats, PsyD, Private Practice, Colorado Springs, CO

Anthony K. Nkyi, PsyD, Senior Lecturer, University of Cape Coast, Ghana.

Elizabeth A. Olson, PsyD, Collective for Psychological Wellness, Boulder, CO.

Erica Palmer, PsyD, Psychologist, AspenPointe, Colorado Springs, CO.

Evone Phoo, M. Clinical Psychology, HELP University; PhD Candidate, University of Malaya.

Donadrian L. Rice, PhD, Professor Emeritus, University of West Georgia.

Elizabeth Saxon, PsyD, Independent Researcher, Houston, TX.

Kirk J. Schneider, PhD, Saybrook University, Oakland, CA, and the Existential-Humanistic Institute, San Francisco, CA.

Ilene Serlin, PhD, Union Street Health Associates.

Heyong Shen, PhD, Professor of Psychology (South China Normal University, City University of Macau), Jungian Analyst (International Association of Analytic Psychology), Sandplay Therapist (International Society for Sandplay Therapy).

Geneva Shewmaker, MEd, PhD Candidate, Saybrook University, Oakland, CA; Psychology Instructor, Hocking College, Nelsonville, OH.

Matthew Thelen, PsyD, Private Practice, Colorado Springs, CO.

Benjamin Tong, PhD, Professor Emeritus, Clinical Psychology PsyD Program, California Institute of Integral Studies, San Francisco, CA.

Alan G. Vaughan, PhD, Faculty, Saybrook University.

Wensheng Wang, PhD, Professor, School of Chinese Language and Culture, Nanjing Normal University, China.

Xuefu Wang, PhD, Zhi Mian Institute for Psychotherapy, Nanjing, China.

Ashley Whitaker, PhD, University of Alaska Fairbanks.

Mark Yang, PsyD, Director, International Institute for Existential-Humanistic Psychology, Beijing, China.

Bohan Zhang, MA, Private Practice.