Living Institute
Existential-Integrative Psychotherapy Diploma

This three year plus program offers theoretical and clinical skills training, as well as a significant self development theme and a service component oriented toward cultural evolution.

The Living Institute is a teaching centre committed to exploring humanistic, psychodynamic, existential, archetypal, transpersonal and somatic themes in the evolutionary process. The basis for this work is the Holistic Experiential Process Method (HEP). HEP is a model for understanding systemic management and growth that is both social and personal, providing a method for facilitating the evolutionary emergence of self-organizing complexity from apparently chaotic disorder. It provides a container for transformational growth based on dialectic integration of arising dualities. The HEP view of evolution as existential self-organization is applicable to group, business and cultural life, as well as individual development.

The Living Institute Existential-Integrative Psychotherapy Diploma is a training in the HEP Method as applied to psychotherapy within the existential-integrative tradition, bringing us into connection with Kirk J. Schneider, PhD, psychologist, founder of the EI method, which derives from the existential-humanistic tradition, founded by Rollo May, James Bugental, Schneider and others. Dr Schneider’s Existential-Integrative Psychotherapy (2008) shows existential-integrative psychotherapy as a broadly eclectic model in its application, with chapters on multiculturalism, gender, short term therapy, addiction, intersubjectivity, child therapy, spirituality. While HEP remains a distinct tradition in its own right, locating HEP within the EI tradition also situates it in a growing, international, professional community.

HEP recognizes the importance of spiritual and human values in institutional and organizational functions that serve society and culture, based on the interdependence of humans with each other and the natural world.

Classroom Program Structure: Year 1 is focused through a theoretical overview model, drawing on humanistic, existential, transpersonal, psychodynamic, archetypal and somatic depth psychologies, as well as a number of other streams.  This will include the philosophical and cultural stream of the Romantic tradition, modernist art and literature, critical theory, culture studies, Continental Philosophy and post modernism as a way of understanding human relationship and the place of individuality in culture and cosmos. A multicultural perspective is integral to this program, as is a general orientation to culture as a contextualizing ground for the psychological and spiritual traditions in the model. The spiritual aspect of the transpersonal tradition will draw on mythology (particularly as understood by figures such as Joseph Campbell and Mircea Eliade), Vajrayana Buddhism, the shamanistic model and Western mystical traditions. The holistic and evolutionary paradigms, self organizing systems theory and dynamical systems theory will also be taught in this year. This includes a complex understanding of the ‘norm of nature’ and ‘healing power of nature’ as expressed in Naturphilosophie, homeopathy and naturopathy. It also includes a focus on Thomas Berry’s geocentric theology with its implicit ecopsychological and ecospiritual approach to the study of earth stewardship. We will highlight the value of humanistic, qualitative and phenomenological research. Students will begin personal psychotherapy as part of the Self Development Program.

In year 2 the clinical skills aspects of these traditions will be the focus, along with basic psychotherapy skills, psychological assessment, ethics and professional relations. This will include an expressive arts component and the theme of integrating the natural world into a psychotherapy model, as well as disciplines such as yoga, and the spiritual emergence tradition. The self development focus will continue. In this year, students will start clinical skills training in a video clinical skills class, where one will volunteer to be a client and another the therapist, the interaction being videotaped and then reviewed for discuss. There will also be opportunities to observe qualified HEP practitioners as they lead their groups, and to be involved in clinical debriefing sessions with them. Eligible students will also be encouraged to begin developing their own individual practice under supervision. There is a Living Institute Student Clinic, where clients are treated by eligible students under supervision.
In year 3 the focus will be on continuing integration of theoretical and clinical skills, and special topics such as trauma work, energy healing, sexuality, death and dying, grief, couples work, creativity, naturopathy, nutrition. Students will be expected to create, in conjunction with colleagues, a public workshop as part of their training. There will be a marketing skills course in this year. During this year there will be an ongoing clinical discussion group where students will be expected to make case presentations for discussion, with faculty and guest presenters supervising. The self development focus will continue, as will supervised clinical practice in the Student Clinic.

Supervised Psychotherapy Practice: Although most students will commence supervised clinical practice in year 3, some may be eligible in the spring semester of year 2. The timing of the commencement of supervised individual psychotherapy practice will depend on student progress through year 2 clinical curriculum, self development progress and prior clinical background in the field of psychotherapy or mental health. Eligible students may apply to the Clinical Director for a Clinic Intake Interview to review their readiness to commence an internship. There is a semi-annual Clinical Review Meeting with the Clinical Director to review progress. Students have up to three years to complete this part of the program.

Self Development: The main vehicle for facilitating the most deeply challenging parts of the self development of the student is in personal psychotherapy. Self development is, however, generally facilitated in depth psychotherapy training programs through many aspects of training, including experiential learning, personal growth in and outside the program, course content such as philosophy and the arts, group process, critical thinking, and in areas such as clinical supervision. Personal psychotherapy starts with individual sessions in year 1 and expands to include the possibility of group participation in years 2 and 3, including the Video Clinical Skills classes. There is a 3 day summer intensive at the end of each year with a significant personal growth element. Consciousness and self development is a theme in all classes.  There is a semi-annual Self Development Review Meeting to monitor progress.

Program Model: The Living Institute Psychotherapy Diploma is based in a number of psychological, spiritual and cultural traditions have been integrated into programs at places such as the California Institute of Integral Studies, Saybrook Graduate School, Institute of Transpersonal Psychology, Naropa University. This program also draws on the psychodynamic model of human nature, of psychotherapy and of training, particularly in its Jungian and archetypal forms as taught at Pacifica Graduate Institute. 

Teaching Format: The teaching format is 4 hours per week from September to May and two 6 hour one-days per month. There will be a 3 day intensive retreat in June, which will combine personal growth and other elements of the learning model.

Learning Model and Evaluation: The Living Institute supports a student centred learning model. Engaging the interest and motivation of the student in meeting the educational and personal challenges of this model is the central organizing principle of the program. Nevertheless, the goal of the program is to facilitate students in achieving a standard of knowledge, clinical skill and self development that will enable them to confidently and competently commence practice on graduation. An equally important goal is that of reaching a level of knowledge that will enable and encourage graduates to continue to evolve by contributing to the knowledge community from which this tradition has arisen.

Service and Cultural Activism: The themes of conscious development and informed understanding leading to effective action, in the larger context of think globally act locally according to your awareness, interest and capacity, are the key threads. Living Institute cultural activism work currently focuses through the creation of topical conferences and participation in the ongoing process of psychotherapy regulation in Ontario through our membership in the alliance of Psychotherapy Training Institutions and our creation of the Canadian Humanistic-Existential and Transpersonal Association.