EHI Certificate in the Foundations of Existential-Humanistic Practice

EHI Director of Clinical Training: Nader Shabahangi, PhD

The Existential-Humanistic Institute is pleased to continue to offer this unprecedented certificate program leading to a Certificate in the Foundations of Existential-Humanistic Practice.


Leading therapy researcher Bruce Wampold suggests that "an understanding of the principles of existential therapy is needed by all therapists, as it adds a perspective that might ... form the basis for all effective treatments" (Wampold cited in PsycCritiques, February 6, 2008, p.6).

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Wampold’s findings along with others place E-H therapy not on the fringe but squarely at the center of psychological theory and practice as the field formulates new assumptions about what constitutes the core of practice. The intention of the certificate program coursework is to provide students with such a foundational core by integrating both theory and practice into each course.

The theoretical portion of the program focuses on existential-humanistic therapy in general and on three of its founders, Rollo May, James Bugental, and Irvin Yalom, in particular. An overarching assumption of existential-humanistic therapy is that it is the client’s in-the-moment experiencing that forms both the underlying and actual process in therapy. This assumption anchors the existential therapist in the principles of practice that focus on experience over explanation and process over content.

Thus the skill-development portion focuses on learning to: (a) identify meaning-making processes unfolding in the present moment, (b) illuminate these “actual but often unrecognized” processes by cultivating intrapsychic and interpersonal presence, (c) develop a safe and intimate therapeutic relationship, (d) recognize and work with existential life issues which may be present but disguised, and (e) recognize and work with transference and counter transference issues within an existential framework.

"I was inspired to attend the retreat after reading an article in the Atlantic about Existential Therapy. I realised it was a branch of therapy that expertly cultivates awareness, presence and connection. These are the mainstays of effective coaching and the areas of my life I wanted to improve the most. I was not disappointed I came away from training with a renewed sense of the value and healing power of deep human connection.
~ Tom

By gaining competency in these fundamental principles, the student will have a solid core of practice and have a foundation from which additional modalities such as a cognitive-behavioral approach can be employed. The program is intended as a mentoring experience that emphasizes the development of the trainee as a whole person, appreciating that psychotherapy is an art as much as a science.

Program Description and Certificate Requirements

Approximate Length: One Year*, Appx Forty-five Hours of Training & Consultation
Two Courses, a Practicum, an Experiential Evaluation and a Year of Personal Therapy

  1. Residential Course: "Existential-Humanistic Therapy: Principles of Practice" - Experiential Training Retreat
  2. This is the heart of the program, a mandatory six-day/five-night residential course that offers appx 35 hours of foundational and skill development training* held in Sonoma each spring. The next retreat training will take place from October 10th to October 15th, 2021.

    2021-2022 Cohort Residential Scheduled for October

    Due to participant safety and long-distance travel concerns the annual training retreat has been rescheduled and will take place in October.

    To view the 2019 training retreat course outline with learning objectives please visit the Course Description page.

  3. The Theory and Practice of Existential-Humanistic Therapy Course
  4. This online survey course offers an overview of E-H Therapy, its theory and practice as understood by prominent practitioners like Rollo May, James Bugental and Irvin Yalom. There will be two 15-page papers due.

    Schneider and Krug’s APA textbook, Existential-Humanistic Therapy, will be a core resource. Additional readings of Rollo May, James Bugental and Irvin Yalom will be included.

  5. A Practicum and An Experiential Evaluation
  6. Forty-hours of experiential therapy practice, designed by the student, and 10 hours of skill development consultation with EHI faculty is also required.

    The Practicum is done through your own client work. The Faculty Consult is done by video sessions with faculty and a few other students in cohort.

  7. A year of personal therapy is strongly recommended (at student expense), taken either before or during the yearlong program.
  • International & Out-of-State program participants please note: Students are only required to attend in-person the Experiential Retreat, that is the only mandatory travel required for this program. The other requirements are completed by you remotely at your own pace and is facilitated by faculty.
  • *This course is set to take appx 1 year to complete requirements. This is a flexible timeframe and participants may take more time to fit the requirements within their schedule. Please inquire if you have questions.

The Experiential Residential Retreat - The Core of EHI Programs

The mandatory 6-day, 5-night experiential residential is the core of EHI's training. It allows licensed professionals and graduate students in psychology or counseling programs to come together in a safe environment, get to know one another, and experience how E-H therapy is practiced up close and personally.

EHI Faculty, noted leaders in the field, emphasize the key ingredients of the E-H approach, including empathy, acceptance, and genuineness, to model how trainees can create safe, collaborative and life-changing therapeutic encounters. They demonstrate how the therapeutic relationship, in and of itself is a vehicle for healing and change and how therapeutic "presence" cultivates sensitivity and appropriate responsiveness to clients emotions, relational patterns and inner worlds.These two essential principles: building the therapeutic relationship and working in the "here and now" are the foundational blocks of E-H therapy and EHI training.

The residential involves a combination of relationship-building, learning of theoretical foundations, and first-hand experiences wherein theory comes to life. At times, this may involve faculty members demonstrating their way of working with clients and inviting commentary; at other times, participants work in dyads with each other, and receive direct feedback from a faculty member as they work.

These various ways of experiential learning give participants a deeper, more embodied sense of what E-H therapy has to offer. The experiential training also provides participants a way of personally understanding how work on themselves mirrors their ability to work with clients.

"Having the opportunity to attend the EHI experience was such a gift!! Not only do I feel like I learned skills that have helped me in working more effectively with my clients- I feel it has changed me in the way I look at and appreciate more fully myself. Thanks again for the opportunity to be a part of EHI!!"
~ Dalana

2021 Experiential Training Dates

EHI has scheduled the single training retreat in October, 2021 for all our programs. Students will receive the complete training in one intensive retreat. Approximately forty hours of programming are scheduled in this experiential.

2020-2021 Experiential Retreat is Rescheduled: October 10-15, 2021

Due to participant safety and long-distance travel concerns the annual training retreat has been rescheduled to October.

Please Note: If in October, 2021 we are unable to meet in person at Westerbeke due to coronavirus concerns the Experiential Training will move online and be held by Zoom.

Staying at Westerbeke, Travel Notes & Suggestions

Planning Your Airline Travel: Because we are not able to predict the state of the pandemic and travel in October we suggest all attendees purchase a refundable ticket. We will not cancel or postpone we will move to an online format. If this is not acceptable to you we suggest holding off until 2022.

Food and Lodging at Westerbeke Ranch Conference Center: Westerbeke lodging is shared cabins: three persons (same sex) to a room in a 5 room "cabin" each with an ensuite bathroom. Please see photos here on Westerbeke website examples of rooms in cabins. There are no single rooms at Westerbeke Ranch. Meals are described by attendees as "amazing," and they are served family style. The team at Westerbeke can accomodate vegans, vegatarians, gluten or lactose-free diets with delicious meals! Contact us if you have any questions about the residential lodging.

Getting to Sonoma: When planning travel to Westerbeke Ranch please note that EHI does not provide transportation up to Westerbeke Ranch, though we do encourage carpooling and initiate it with an email to all attendees prior to the retreat.

Planning Your Arrival in the Bay Area: We ask that everyone is on time to check-in prevent interruption to the training. If you are driving up from places south of Sonoma, like the city of San Francisco, you will want to leave time to negotiate the traffic. Staying North of San Francisco the night before has worked well for attendees. If you will be staying in the area the night before make your reservations early as possible.

Interested in joining us for 2021? Applications are being accepted now.


The certificate program is open to licensed/pre-licensed professionals who seek to enhance their clinical skills, and to full/half-time students in a Master's or Doctoral psychology, counseling, social work, or therapeutic arts program. It is also open to persons who currently hold at least a Master's degree in thereapeutic arts, human services or medical professions.

If you have questions about whether this program might be a good fit for you please write us at info[@]

Program Fees and Registration

Cost of Program1:

  • 2020's Program Tuition Cost: $3,150* [2021/2022 Program Cost to be Announced in January 2021]
  • Appx 35 hours of programming and experiential hands-on training at the residential Experiential Training Retreat.
  • 10 hours of Video Consult with EHI Faculty [5 two-hour sessions; 1 session per month after Training Retreat].
  • Online Survey Course: Theory and Practice of E-H Therapy [Set your own pace based on your schedule].

  • Separate Experiential Retreat Food and Lodging Costs: Appx $1,300.00 for the 6 days food and 5 nights lodging, billed separately from tuition.
  • Due to contractual obligations many months in advance this fee is both non-refundable and non-transferable.
  • We hold our experientials at a beautiful retreat center, Westerbeke Ranch, in the heart of Sonoma County. The cost includes modern, cabin-style shared lodging, superb family style meals and the use of all the facilities at Westerbeke such as the pool, hot tub and walking trails.

Westerbeke Ranch as a retreat center has historic significance for our community, as it was the meeting place for many of the seminal writers in E-H theory and practice such as Rollo May and James Bugental.

*Please note: coursework and tuition may be subject to change when necessary. Text books, Travel to Sonoma, Retreat Lodging Coss, and Continuing Education Fees (when available) are not included in the Tuition Costs.



It is the policy of EHI to make every reasonable effort to provide qualified students with disabilities with the opportunity to take full advantage of its programs.

If you have a disability, please contact us ahead of time so we can work with you arrange the programming to needs. Please contact either our Admin, Michelle at program[@] or our Clinical Director, Nader, at info[@] to make arrangements.


Application Process

We hope the following information will guide you through the application process. If you have further questions or need additional assistance, please email us: program[at]

How do I apply to an EHI program?

  • 1. Get the EHI Program Application [WORD]

    Download the Application Here!

  • 2. Fill out the application -select the Program you are applying to. This is a Word doc but LibraOffice will work too. Please Save the application to your computer to send as an attachment. Please do not send scanned images. Contact Michelle if you need any assistance regarding the application.
  • 3. Email application as an attachment to our admin, Michelle: program[@]
  • 4. Submit the non-refundable $100.00 application fee via PayPal.

What is the deadline for applying?

The cohort is filled on a first-come basis and when all spaces at the residential retreat are filled (max 19 cohort attendees) then that year will close out. Applications will be accepted year-round. Formal acceptance into the program and payment of deposit will hold your space in the cohort prior to tuition fee deadlines. Apply as soon as possible to secure a position in the program and to have the most payment plan options. Please email the admin, Michelle, if you have any questions regarding the application process. Email her at

What happens after I apply?

Once received, your application will be reviewed by faculty members and we aim to respond to it within a 2-week period. Once accepted into your program of choice, a letter of formal acceptance and your enrollment documents will be sent to you and both Stephanie, the Clinical Training Coordinator, and Michelle, the Admin Assistant, will work with you to complete your enrollment.

Registration process:

Once accepted you will be enrolled in the program as soon as we receive your completed payment agreement form outlining the payment schedule and your deposit and/or tuition is submitted. Tuition fees and Lodging costs are invoiced and you can pay this online securely. Michelle, the Admin Assistant, will assist in enrollment and can answer enrollment questions, at Program[@]

Contact Us

If you have any questions or need further assistance, please feel free to contact us. We look forward to talking with you more about the program!

Nader Shabahangi, PhD
EHI Director of Clinical Training

Stephanie Weissman, PsyD
EHI Clinical Training Coordinator