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The Psychology of Existence: An Integrative, Clinical Perspective

Preface to the McGraw-Hill Create Edition

Kirk J. Schneider, Ph.D.
On behalf of my late friend and mentor, Rollo May, I am delighted that this timehonored text is once again available to the English-speaking world. In the 16 years since
this book was published, there have been important developments in the field of
psychotherapy practice and research, and I am very heartened to report that The
Psychology of Existence has been a key influence on those developments. There have
been new books on existential practice for example (see Bugental,1999; Barnett &
Madison, 2012; Cooper, 2003; Schneider, 2004, 2008, 2009; Schneider & Krug, 2010;
and Yalom, 2002), a new video series sponsored by the American Psychological
Association (APA)( see Existential-Humanistic Psychotherapy Over Time
[]), an updated video on Rollo Mays life and work (see Rollo May on
Existential Psychotherapy at, new developments in training (see, and new feature articles about the influence of existential therapy on
other therapeutic modalities (see Price, 2011, November and the New Existentialists
website- Indeed, the convergence of
these developments has moved leading psychotherapy researcher Bruce Wampold to
suggest that an understanding of the principles of existential therapy is needed by all
therapists, as it adds a perspective that mightform the basis of all effective treatments
(Wampold, 2008, p. 6).

In the world at large, we also see increasing interest in existential-integrative (EI)

and existential-humanistic (E-H) approaches to therapy. For example, the Existential
Humanistic Institute (EHI) and the International Institute for Humanistic Studies (IIHS),
both in the San Francisco Bay Area, are helping to facilitate EH/EI practices to a
growing regional and worldwide audience. Among the countries benefiting from trainings
by these institutes (or their instructors) are Russia, Lithuania, Poland, Japan, and China
(the first major U.S-China existential therapy conference took place in April, 2010, and
the second is to take place in May of 2012). Younger EH/EI theorists, such as Louis
Hoffman, Brent Dean Robbins, and Shawn Rubin, have been actively introducing
students to the new EH/EI practice philosophies, and women, such as Orah Krug, the
late Elizabeth Bugental, and Myrtle Heery, have been advancing a new feminist
sensibility in EH/EI theory and practice.
But the introduction of the EI approach to practice is not the only notable feature
of this text. Less publicized but equally important are the three theory chapters in this
text dealing with the existential movement as a whole. Many students and faculty have
conveyed their appreciation for these chapters, which are unfortunately missing from
subsequent existentially oriented volumes. These chapters include the literary, the
philosophical, and the psychological roots of existential psychology, and they comprise
some of the classic writings in the movement. No less important are the classic case
studies in this volume not included elsewhere, such as A Depressed Artist: The Case of
Amanda by Chris Armstrong and James Bugental, Dialogical (Buberian) Therapy: The
Case of Dawn, by Maurice Friedman, An Obsessive-Compulsive Male: The Case of
Ron by Ed Mendelowitz, An Existential-Spiritual Perspective: The Case of Sarah by

Paul Bowman, and Psychotic Clients, Laings Treatment Philosophyand The Case of
Jerome by Michael Guy Thompson.
In short, there is no end to which EH and EI practice philosophies are being
applied today, and the surge of energy around this perspective is contagious. (See
Hoffman, Yang, Kakluaskas, & Chan, 2009 and Hoffman, Stewart, Warren, & Meek,
2009 for comprehensive overviews of existential psychologys diverse and growing
influence). I know that Rollo would be extremely gratified by what has blossomed since
the inception of our 1995 text.


Barnett, L. & Madison, G. (2012). Existential therapy: Legacy, vibrancy, and dialogue.
New York: Routledge.
Bugental, J.F.T. (1999). Psychotherapy isnt what you think. Phoenix, AZ: Zeig, Tucker,
& Theisen.
Cooper, M. (2003). Existential therapies. London: Sage.
Hoffman, L., Yang, M., Kaklauskas, F., & Chan, A. (2009). Existential psychology EastWest. Colorado Springs, CO: University of the Rockies Press.
Hoffman, L., Stewart, S., Warren, W., & Meek, L. (2009). Toward a sustainable myth of
self: An existential response to the postmodern condition. Journal of Humanistic
Psychology,49, 135-173.
Schneider, K. J. (2004). Rediscovery of awe: Splendor, mystery, and the fluid center of
life. St. Paul, MN: Paragon House.

Schneider, K.J. (2008). Existential-integrative psychotherapy: Guideposts to the core of

practice. New York: Routledge.
Schneider, K.J. (2009). Awakening to awe: Personal stories of profound transformation.
Lanham, MD: Jason Aronson.
Schneider, K.J., & Krug (2010). Existential-humanistic therapy. Washington, DC:
American Psychological Association Press.
Wampold, B. (2008, February 6). Existential-integrative psychotherapy comes of age.
[Review of the book Existential-integrative psychotherapy: Guideposts to the
core of practice]. PsycCritiques 53, Release 6, Article 1.
Yalom, I. (2002). The gift of therapy. New York: HarperCollins.

--Kirk J. Schneider, Ph.D.

January 1, 2012