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Skills in Existential Counselling & Psychotherapy

Skills in Existential Counselling & Psychotherapy

  • Emmy van Deurzen - New School of Psychotherapy and Counselling, London
  • Martin Adams - New School of Psychotherapy and Regent's College, London

176 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd

This book is the first practical introduction to a skills-based Existential approach. Accessible for those without a philosophical background, it describes Existential practice in terms of a number of concrete and tangible skills, tasks, and interactions. It shows how to enable the client to become more reflective about life and better capable of taking responsibility for it.

Key Features

  • Covers the theoretical background and history of Existential Therapy
  • Examines phenomenological practice - the center of Existential Therapy
  • Addresses the necessary characteristics of the therapist as a person
  • Discusses surviving as an existential psychotherapist
  • Explores qualities of good living
  • Looks at the process of therapy and the nature of change
  • Deals with misconceptions about the Existential approach

Always linking Existential principles with therapeutic practice, this book provides a much needed resource both for those at the beginning of their training and also for more experienced practitioners keen to expand their knowledge. Explaining the ideas of Existential philosophy concisely yet without oversimplification, the authors make the Existential approach accessible to all those who wish to find out what it has to offer.

The Framework of Existential Therapy
The Person of the Therapist
Working Phenomenologically: The Centre of Existential Therapy
Developing an Existential Attitude
From Theory into Practice
The Process of Existential Therapy
Putting It All Together: Summing up

'This is an introductory text for those unfamiliar with existential therapy. It is written in an accessible style, is attractively laid out and contains many synopses, reflective exercises and case examples to illustrate the theory. As someone whose training includes the existential therapeutic approach, and who has ongoing experience of supervising existential therapists, I found this a useful guide for students and teachers alike, as well as those seeking to integrate the approach into their practice...certainly deserves a place on the library shelf of every organisation' - Therapy Today

'The huge value of this book comes from the wonderfully practical approach that is taken throughout. Instead of simply parroting ideas that for many seem vague or even incomprehensible, the authors provide concrete suggestions for practice. In terms of meeting the needs of the likely key market (students studying on courses in existential counselling and psychotherapy) it is nigh-on perfect. If any students are reading this review then I would strongly recommend you buy this book. Indeed, I would recommend that anyone interested in existential counselling and psychotherapy, whether student or experienced practitioner/teacher, buy this book and relish the clear, accurate and superbly practical exposition contained therein that is all too rare in this field.'
Dr. Darren Langdridge
Journal of Existential Analysis

'At last - a lucid and accessible overview of the 'British model' of Existential therapy. With its clear language and well-judged examples of practice this is an essential resource for trainees and practitioners alike'
Professor Simon du Plock
Metanoia Institute and Middlesex University

'A standard criticism of the Existential approach is that while the ideas are relevant, the implications for practice are vague. In response, this rather unique book offers a handbook of practical approaches intrinsic to the challenge of working within the Existential paradigm. It is essential reading for anybody interested in Existential therapy and will be of significant value to any practitioner of therapy of whatever modality'
Ray Woolfe
Chartered Counselling Psychologist in private practice

This is an illuminating and practical introduction into the existential method of counselling & psychotherapy. It highlights the key existential themes that writers such as Kierkegaard and Merleau Ponty have forwarded regarding human experience. The strength in Van Deurzen’s work is in the manner in which he has applied and enlivened these concepts into the lived experience of the client in the counselling frame. This publication should benefit both students and counsellors who are interested in practicing from an existential perspective

Mr Michael McGibbon
School of Communication, Ulster University
June 24, 2015

This is a good book which clearly explains the skills used by existential therapists when conducting therapy.

Miss Jade Cumming
Social Sciences, Reid Kerr College
October 1, 2014

This is more relevant for a second year module which includes existential counselling. I am, however, very interested in the subject myself and have made use of the book for my own research. I will recommend it to a colleague for use with second year students.

Ms Vicki Smith
Division of Psychology, Huddersfield University
November 9, 2012

This book fills a real gap in the existential psychotherapy literature. The authors rise to the challenge of building practical bridges between existential philosophy and the world of the psychotherapy room.

Mr Gerry Myers
Counselor Education , University of Limerick
September 21, 2012

This addition to the ‘Skills In’ series continues the theme of clear practical examination of practice. It will be a useful reference for Practitioners wishing to expand their knowledge, as well as Trainees.

Mr Mike Bancroft
Counselling, Alton College
December 2, 2011

An excellent, easily readable book for introducing concepts to students new to existential counselling.

Mrs Jackie Chivers
Adult Continuing Education, University of Wales, Swansea
September 30, 2011

Some useful activities to enable student reflection.

Ms Sue Chowdhry
Healthcare and Counselling, Adam Smith College
September 22, 2011

As with all of Emmy Van Deurzens' texts, this was a very approachable read, an introductory feast of Existential material. It fills a need in the discussion of actual skills that a therapist may adopt when using this perspective. All too often Existential ways of working seem too ephemeral for the new student in their first approach to the subject matter, and they are frequently discouraged by what seems to be something too hard to grasp and possibly too philosophical in nature. This book takes that rather philosophical approach but relates the thinking in a very practical and appealing way, placing it in its historical context, and then widening into the contemporary approach which offers a truly holistic consideration of personhood and presence in the World. I have reccomended the text to our students from the first year onwards, and I believ that they will find material relevant throughout their training period of three years. I myself found plenty to inform my practice as a counsellor and supervisor, even when not new to me the material offers a new perspective which is very refreshing.

Mr Andrew Thorne
Bristol Centre For Care, Health & Educ, City of Bristol College
July 8, 2011

Clearly written book which could be very useful to students on this course.

Mr Ian Townsend
Nursing, Central Lancashire University
June 26, 2011

Emmy van Deurzen

Principal, New School of Psychotherapy and Counselling, London More About Author

Martin Adams