This approach to psychology is inspired by the philosophical tradition developed by thinkers such as Buber, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Gadamer, de Beauvoir, Sartre, Marcel, Merleau-Ponty, and Levinas. Existential-phenomenology seeks to develop an in-depth, embodied understanding of human existence. It challenges approaches in psychology and psychiatry that view human beings in a reductionistic manner. The program distinguishes itself by using this philosophical tradition as a foundation for psychotherapy and growth, and as a source of insight into the richness and diversity of human psychological experience.
Existential-Phenomenological Psychology is humanistic in that it challenges the modern tendency to interpret the human condition through a set of narrow technological lenses. It engages with and appreciates the wisdom accumulated by the rich traditions of reflection on the human condition in the social sciences and humanities. It deepens our understanding of the experiences and perspectives of others through its focus upon the meanings that we make in our lives and the choices that are reflected in our understandings and actions. The phenomenological dimension nourishes an openness to understanding the lives and needs of others by helping us to identify and set aside our theoretical and ideological prejudgments as we approach our work as therapists. Finally, the existential-phenomenological approach is ethical in recognizing that the fundamental characteristic of being human is to be responsible to others.
To learn more about existential phenomenology, check out our Selected Introductory Readings.