College of Arts and Sciences


We believe that learning takes place in the context of dialogue with peers and with faculty. To facilitate genuine dialogue, we limit the number of students admitted to approximately 20 students per year. The program includes the study of texts, personal reflection, experiential exercises, and a 9-month practicum. Our students are prepared as therapists to work with children and adults, individually and in groups, and families.

Existential Phenomenological Psychology

Existential phenomenology is a philosophical tradition that speaks to contemporary psychology and psychotherapy by offering a fundamentally different model of training than most other programs. Our approach builds on a broad foundation in psychology, philosophy, and psychopathology and engages the humanities as well.

Our program, which is one of only two in the United States with this approach, has the largest faculty trained in this specific therapeutic model.
Our program distinguishes itself both by using this philosophical tradition as a foundation for psychology and psychotherapy and as a source of insight about specific human experiences.

  • The existential dimension deepens our understanding of persons living in their everyday circumstances through in-depth reflection on the psychological meanings expressed in both experience and action.
  • The phenomenological dimension encourages openness toward psychological reality by identifying and putting aside theoretical and ideological prejudgments.
  • Based in a humanistic approach and inspired by the philosophical tradition developed by thinkers such as Buber, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Husserl, Heidegger, Gadamer, Sartre, Marcel, Merleau-Ponty, and Emmanuel Levinas, our program challenges not only the traditions that study the person in a reductionistic manner or promote dualistic modes of thinking (e.g., mind vs. body or freedom vs. determinism) but also the modern tendency to interpret the human condition through narrow technological lenses.
  • We focus on the psychosocial conditions that help people deal with the difficulties of life.

Our students develop an in-depth understanding of human existence.

  • We build on the fundamental characteristic of being human to be responsible to others.
  • The essential qualities of the therapist include humility and compassion. Therapists from our program are not detached technicians; they are responsibly committed to their clients.
  • The contemporary emphasis on competitive and isolating individualism has undermined this call to be ethically bonded to our neighbor.

Through exploring these in relation to psychotherapy and counseling, students come to appreciate the significance of therapeutic attitude and presence. Most fundamentally, we place a strong emphasis on the relational and ethical dimensions of psychotherapy.


Professor Steen Halling, one of the program's founders, provides an overview of the Master of Arts in Psychology program.
Seattle University Arts & Sciences.


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