Existential Therapy

Existential therapy seeks to help a person, healthy or not, to understand his or her own life, its ways of being, inherent paradoxes and dilemmas, and to find ways how to create meaningful future.

For existential therapy, two concepts are crucial. Firstly, the idea of the person as the being-in-the-world or as the continuous life process. Significantly, the person is inseparably related to various contexts of his/her life (with his/her life world). Psychotherapy aims not at changing the personality, but rather at helping to achieve deeper and wider understanding of one’s life.

Secondly, the life of the person is viewed through exploration of his/her interaction with universal existential conditions (‘existential givens’), the most important of which are ‘thrownness’ in the world, being-together with other people, finitenesss of life, freedom, its limits and responsibility for it, anxiety and tension, time as the present encompassing the past and the future, meaning and meaninglessness.

Existential therapy bases itself on existential and phenomenological philosophy defining most essential attitudes of the existential therapist.

Existential Therapy programme was prepared by Prof. Rimantas Kočiūnas. It is intended for psychologists, medical doctors and social workers interested in psychological counselling and psychotherapy. The programme consists of the Basic Level (two years, 586 hours) and the Professional Level (2 years, 680 hours).

Applicants with educational background in other fields are offered the Introductory Course (about 12 months, 254 hours).

The contents and volume of the Existential Therapy Programme conforms to the requirements of the European Certificate of Psychotherapy. The Programme is approved by the Lithuanian Association of Psychotherapy and the Department of Clinical and Organizational Psychology of the Vilnius University.

The training staff includes over 30 teachers, therapists and supervisors, among them 3 professors, 12 holders of doctoral degrees in psychology, philosophy and medicine; 10 holders of the European Certificate of Psychotherapy. Most teachers and trainers are practising and highly experienced  therapists.

The Introductory Course aims at preparation for the studies at the Basic Level of the Existential Therapy Programme or just serves as an opportunity for a closer contact with psychological practice and its theoretical basis. After completing this course, students are accepted to the studies at the Basic Level without further selection.

The course includes lectures on the most important subjects, essential for further studies in psychotherapy; students participate in a therapeutic group, develop initial counselling skills by watching sessions by colleagues and trying to counsel themselves. During studies, students are also required to have not less than 20 hours of personal therapy with the therapists approved by the Institute.

The course consists of 3 seminars of 10 days each with 2-4 months periods in between them and of a short concluding seminar, which serves to review readiness of students for further studies. Completion of the course is marked by the Certificate.

Initial Requirements:

  1. University Degree (Master’s).

The Programme of the Introductory Course:

  1. Personality theories and paradigms of psychotherapy (40 h)
  2. Development psychology (32 h)
  3. Clinical psychology (32 h)
  4. Basics of psychological counselling (24 h)
  5. Introduction to philosophy (16 h)
  6. Counselling practice (60 h)
  7. Group therapy experience (24 h)
  8. Personal therapy (20 h)
  9. Review of readiness for further studies (6 h)

Total volume 254 hours

Seminars of the Introductory Course:

Seminar 1

  1. Therapeutic group (24 h)
  2. Personality theories and paradigms of psychotherapy  (12 h)
  3. Development psychology (32 h)
  4. Clinical psychology (8 h)

Total 76 h

Seminar 2

  1. Clinical psychology (24 h)
  2. Basics of psychological counselling (12 h)
  3. Personality theories and paradigms of psychotherapy  (16 h)
  4. Counselling practice (28 h)

Total 80 h.

Seminar 3

  1. Introduction to philosophy (16 h)
  2. Basics of psychological counselling (12 h)
  3. Personality theories and paradigms of psychotherapy (12 h)
  4. Counselling practice (32 h)
  5. Review of readiness for further studies (6 h)

Total 78 h.

The Basic Level course aims at familiarizing students with theoretical and practical foundations of existential therapy and develop skills of counselling and psychotherapy. The course includes theoretical lectures, group and individual practice of psychotherapy, case analysis. Students are required to study a lot off-classroom – reading, preparing for seminars, writing course papers.

At this stage of the studies it is required to accumulate not less than 40 hours of individual personal therapy with one of the therapists recommended by the Institute.

The Basic Level course comprises five seminars of 12-14 days each, with few months between them, and the concluding seminar, in which students present their course papers.

The program of the Basic Level course:

  1. Theories of existential psychology and therapy (Ludwig Binswanger, Medard Boss, Viktor Frankl, Alfried Längle, Rollo May, James Bugental, Ronald Laing, Emmy van Deurzen, Ernesto Spinelli) (60 h)
  2. Existential therapy: philosophical foundations, theory, process (46 h)
  3. Basics of psychiatry (32 h)
  4. Basics of psychotherapy (32 h)
  5. Existential philosophy (28 h)
  6. Coping with psychological crises (16 h)
  7. Phenomenological psychology: the method of therapeutic exploration and the position of the therapist (16 h)
  8. Specific cases in counselling and therapy (8 h)
  9. Existential dream analysis (16 h)
  10. Introduction to phenomenology (16 h)
  11. Dilemmas of professional ethics ( 8 h)
  12. Introduction to the theory of supervision (4 h)
  13. Therapeutic group experience (96 h)
  14. Group supervision of practical counselling/therapeutic work (80 h)
  15. Personal individual therapy (40 h)
  16. Review and discussion of concluding theoretical papers (40 h)
  17. Review and discussion of concluding practical papers (case analysis) (40 h)
  18. Discussion of individual supervision (6 h)
  19. Discussion of personal therapy (2 h)

At the concluding seminar, students have to present own theoretical paper “Existential philosophy/psychology and my life world”, the case analysis of own therapeutic practice and the analysis of individual personal therapy. Also, every student reviews and discusses individually his supervision experience.

Upon completion of the Basic Level course, students are awarded the certificate of the received training and skills. With this certificate, students are eligible to continue studies at the Professional Level.

Seminar 1

  1. Basics of psychotherapy (32 h)
  2. Theories of existential psychology and therapy: introduction (6 h)
  3. Psychotherapeutic group (32 h)

Total 70 h

Seminar 2

  1. Theories of existential psychology and therapy: Ludwig Binswanger (4 h), Medard Boss (6 h), modern Dasein-analysis (2 h), Viktor Frankl (8 h), Alfried Längle (4 h)
  2. Coping with psychological crises (16 h)
  3. Introduction to phenomenology (16 h)
  4. Introduction to supervision theory (4 h)
  5. Group supervision of practical counselling/therapeutic work (28 h)

Total 88 h

Seminar 3

  1. Theories of existential psychology and therapy: Rollo May (6 h), James Bugental (6 h)
  2. Basics of psychiatry (16 h)
  3. Phenomenological psychology: the method of therapeutic exploration and the position of the therapist (16 h)
  4. Existential analysis of dreams (16 h)
  5. Existential phenomenology (8 h)
  6. Group supervision of practical counselling/therapeutic work (28 h)

Total 96 h

Seminar 4

  1. Existential philosophy: Soren Kierkegaard, Friedrich Nietzsche, Martin Heidegger (20 h)
  2. Modern existential therapy: Ronald Laing (6 h), Emmy van Deurzen (6 h), Ernesto Spinelli (6 h)
  3. Basics of psychiatry (16 h)
  4. Psychotherapeutic group (32 h)

Total 86 h

Seminar 5

  1. Existential therapy: philosophical foundations, theory, process (40 h)
  2. Group supervision of practical counselling/therapeutic work: case analysis and supervision of ‘live‘ work (48 val.)

Total 88 h

Concluding seminar

  1. Review and discussion of concluding theoretical papers (40 h)
  2. Review and discussion of case studies (40 h)
  3. Discussion of individual supervision (6 h)
  4. Discussion of personal therapy (2 h)

                                                                                       Total 88 h

The course of the Professional Level aims at those who seek the Diploma in Psychotherapy. Along with theoretical subjects deepening understanding of existential psychology, therapy and philosophy, it  gives most attention to practical work under supervision and to case analyses. Within the course, students are required to accumulate 6o hours of individual personal therapy with highly qualified therapists recommended by the Institute (total volume of individual personal therapy must be not less than 110 hours).

The program of the Professional Level course:

  1. Group therapeutic experience (48 h)
  2. Existential therapy (90 h)
  3. Possibilities of therapy in cases of mental and personal disorders (48 h)
  4. Existential philosophy (40 h)
  5. Psychotherapy of children and adolescence (18 h)
  6. Philosophy and psychotherapy (16 h)
  7. Psychotherapy of couples and families (8 h)
  8. Therapeutic changes and effectiveness of therapy: essential factors, problems of assessment (6 h)
  9. Existential issues in spiritual traditions (8 h)
  10. Cultural aspects of psyhotherapy (6 h)
  11. Supervision of practical therapeutic work (individual 22 h, group 204 h)
  12. Personal individual therapy (70 h)
  13. Review and discussion of concluding theoretical papers (32 h)
  14. Review and discussion of concluding practical papers (32 h)
  15. Discussion of supervision (8 h)
  16. Discussion of personal therapy (2 h)

At the completion of studies, students have to write and present a theoretical paper on existential therapy, the analysis of a case from own therapeutic practice, the analysis of supervision experience and a paper on interaction between personal therapy and own therapeutic practice. Upon successful completion of the studies, students are awarded the Diploma in Psychotherapy (Existential Therapy).

HEPI is an accredited training institution of the European Association for Psychotherapy (EAP), and its graduates (after both the Basic and Professional courses) are eligible to apply for the European Psychotherapist Certificate.

The Introductory Course of Existential Therapy Programme

The 7th group of the Introductory Course will start in February 2021.

The Basic Level of Existential Therapy programme (in Russian)

Applications for the training group of 2021 are no longer accepted. Next group is planned to start early in 2022. Information will be available in January 2021.

The Basic Level of Existential Therapy programme (in English)

The total volume of the course is 566 hours. The studies lasting 2 years comprise 6 seminars of 12-14 days each taking place in Birštonas. They include lectures, seminars, intensive group therapeutic experience, personal therapy, practice of counselling and independent studies.

All teaching is done in English.

The introductory/selection session will be held on October 18 – 31, 2021 in Birštonas. The cost of tuition is €2630 (excluding personal therapy and individual supervision; payment for these is arranged directly with therapists/supervisors). The first installment of €900 is payable before the first seminar (the rest is paid in three installments before the seminars 2, 3 and 4).

The number of candidates in the group is limited. The deadline for applications is October 1, 2021. Applications are accepted only together with the registration fee €80 (which is 50% of the costs of the two-days introductory group), payable in cash or by wire transfer to the bank account LT167044060001412421 at SEB Bank.

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