EHI-Saybrook Certificate in the Foundations
of Existential-Humanistic Practice

EHI Director of Clinical Training for Residential: Troy Piwowarski, PsyD
Co-author of a chapter in Handbook of Humanistic Psychology.

The Existential-Humanistic Institute and Saybrook University are pleased to offer an unprecedented partnership for Saybrook's Existential Therapy program leading to a Saybrook Certificate in the Foundations of Existential-Humanistic Practice. EHI provides only the residential retreat course for this Saybrook certificate program. The rest of the courses are taken through Saybrook.

Please Note: This is for Saybrook University students only. Saybrook students must register for the appropriate Saybrook courses before joining the EHI training residential. EHI fills the spring residential retreat training the Fall prior. Please reach out to us for more info if you have questions.


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 this certificate program is to provide students with such a foundational core that focuses on both theory and skill development.

The theoretical part focuses on existential-humanistic therapy in general and a study of two of its founders, Rollo May and James Bugental 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 part 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.

"The program showed me a doorway within myself into territory that I was aware of but had yet to fully conceptualize."
~ Jenelle

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.

Saybrook Program Description and Certificate Requirements

Approximate Length: One to Two Years
Three Credits each for Academic and Experiential Courses; One Credit for Final Integrative Paper—Total: 16 credits

  1. Three Academic Courses from Saybrook:
    (a)* EHTP 2040 Existential Psychotherapies
    (b)EHTP 6150 Existential Psychotherapies II: Rollo May and the Existential Tradition
    (c)* EHTP 2047 Existential Psychotherapies III: James Bugental and the Existential-Humanistic Tradition

    Academic courses are distance learning; instructors will be assigned after acceptance into the program.

  2. One Experiential Course:
  3. (d) EHTP 2045 Existential-Humanistic Therapy: Experiential I

    This is the heart of EHI's program, a mandatory six-day/five-night residential course that offers appx 35 hours of experiential skill development training* (with additional programming) held in Sonoma each spring. This year the training will take place from May 26, 2020 to May 31, 2020.

    2020 Experiential Retreat is Rescheduled: October 18-24, 2020

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

    The 2020 Experiential is Moving Online: Details of New Intensive to be Announced!

    For the course description with objectives please visit the Course Description page.

  4. Final Integrative Paper that synthesizes and analyzes the academic and experiential learning.

  5. A year of personal therapy taken either before or during the yearlong program is strongly recommended.

Saybrook student? Would you like to know more about the retreat? Email us at on how to be a part of this dynamic program!

Experiential Retreat Details

The six day experiential residential retreat is the core of EHI's training. This residential allows participants who are graduate students in psychology or counseling and licensed professionals to come together in a safe environment, get to know one another intimately, and experience how E-H therapy is practiced up close and personally. The training 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. Through these various ways of learning, participants begin to drop into a deeper, more embodied sense of what E-H therapy has to offer. The experiential training also provides participants a way of deeply understanding how work on themselves mirrors their ability to work with clients.

2020 - Experiential Training Cohort is Full

The 2020 training retreat residential cohort is full but we ask that if you are interested please reach out to us!

Each year there is the possibility an attendee will defer participation in the year's training, opening space for another to attend the residential. We have a waitlist and will contact each person on the waitlist in the order they went onto the list if an opening occurs. The person who is able to enroll will get the space. Contact the admin assistant, Michelle, for details and info about space in the program and current waitlist, program[at]

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

New Updated Programming Format: Combined Experiential Training I & II
• May 16th, 2021 - May 21, 2021


The certificate program is open to Saybrook students in good standing. Coursework may satisfy both certificate and concentration requirements, check with your department head to see if it does. Students without previous clinical training or involved in such a degree program could be eligible if they have a strong EH background.

*A new or current Saybrook student needs to apply to and be accepted by EHI before the start of the program after consultation with Saybrook. Spaces are limited.

Program Costs1

  1. Experiential Module*: $2,150 tuition
  2. Optional Group Consult Module: $350 tuition when paid with experiential tuition ($400 if added later). Includes five, 2-hour video group consultations, meeting once a month).

The only additional expenses are those for food and lodging at the Bay Area retreat center where the experiential trainings are held. The anticipated cost is approximately $1051.00* for Spring 2019. We can offer no discount on this cost and due to our contractual obligation this fee is both non-refundable and non-transferable.

*Fees may be subject to change without notice.

View the upcoming retreat location details here.


How do I apply to the program?

  • 1. Get the EHI-Saybrook Foundations Program Application Form [pdf]

    Download the Application Here!

  • 2. EMAIL application as an attachment to:


Registration for the courses in the program is through Saybrook University Registrars. Upon submission of application to EHI for consideration into the program you will be approved to register for the courses in the program. Payment of the Retreat Tuition and Lodging fees are to EHI. EHI's admin assistant, Michelle, will be in contact with you regarding payment agreement, invoicing for the Retreat Tuition and Lodging Fees.

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!

Troy Piwowarski, PsyD
EHI Director of Clinical Training

Roby Shamas, LMFT
EHI Clinical Training Coordinator