Human Dimension of Psychotherapy Conference


July 18 - 20, 2008
Hart House, University of Toronto, Canada

The traditions of humanistic, existential, psychodynamic, transpersonal and somatic psychology have a long history affirming the complex holism of the human experience. These 'alternatives' to manualized, outcome oriented therapies have a substantial academic and professional history, integrating the complex dimensions of being human. How do we bring each individual into full presence? How do we integrate this clinical knowledge into 21st century psychotherapy?

Join us as we rally to affirm the 'gems' of these traditions within the political 'setting' of the new legislation for psychotherapy regulation in Ontario.

Rae Johnson, PhD, RSW, RSMT; David Lukoff, PhD; Dan Merkur; PhD, Linda Page, PhD; Kirk J. Schneider, PhD.

The humanistic traditions have a philosophical and cultural perspective that stands in distinction from mainstream medicalized and manualized approaches to psychotherapy. They have a unique and valuable set of principles and practices, elucidated in Recommended Principles and Practice for the Provision of Humanistic Psychosocial Services: Alternatives to Mandated Practice and Treatment Guidelines (Go to, click on special interest groups box, scroll down to The Psychotherapy Interest Area and click on article title). The fact that they have been marginalized in Ontario is a cause of concern that we would like to address. They need to have a place within the professional discourse of 21st century psychotherapy.

The Living Institute, like many other free standing psychotherapy training schools, is teaching a multidimensional psychological approach that appreciates the intricacies of the whole person. We are aware that the mainstream, outcome oriented approaches have dominated university curricula and the general professional field. Join us as we rally to affirm the 'gems' of the humanistic traditions within the political 'setting' of the new legislation for psychotherapy regulation in Ontario.

The Clinical Gems
During the 1970's in Ontario, there was an explosion of humanistic style psychotherapies, which were all part of a general cultural revolution of that time. Perspectives of holism, individuation, self-actualization, experiential self development were valued over a more narrow focus on symptom, pathology and a limited view of 'cure'. However, in Ontario, these humanistic therapies only partially made it into the university system and have been preserved essentially in free standing training institutes. CBT and outcome oriented approaches are drowning out the voice and values of these traditions. The efficacy of the more mainstream traditions is not in question here. Yet there is more to the story.

The Human Dimension of Psychotherapy conference will explore current attempts to find new cross-disciplinary integration among existential-integrative therapy, the role of spirituality within therapy, the psychodynamics of eros and mystical experience, and how to integrate soma with psyche in this new era. The rich, multifaceted gems of this clinical dialogue situates Ontario within the field of international developments in the profession of psychotherapy

The Political Setting
Last year, The Psychotherapy Act was passed, regulating psychotherapy for the first time in Ontario. The act has not yet been enacted, and there is an ongoing professional dialogue with the government to try and sort out what the picture for this profession will look like for many years to come. Because of this, we feel now is the time to make sure these humanistic traditions will be properly represented in the newly regulated field of psychotherapy.

The Alliance of Psychotherapy Training Institutions (APTI) is an organization concerned with representing the voice of free standing psychotherapy training institutions in Ontario. This is vital for the future of the profession, since these institutions have been the main vehicle for training in many specific disciplines in Ontario, such as gestalt, psychodrama, relational psychoanalysis and bioenergetics, as well as Jungian, transpersonal, psychodynamic, existential and somatic psychotherapies that are not represented in university curricula in Ontario. As a responsible member of the psychotherapy community, the Living Institute is offering a place at this conference for APTI's founder to speak about Ontario psychotherapy within an international context.

Students and the Future
As part of our commitment to professional diversity and the fostering of collegial communication, we invite students from any psychotherapy training school to submit poster presentations on the conference's theme. We hope that this will stimulate cross-fertilization. It will also help students develop expertise as future professionals in how to create similar opportunities, thus contributing to the maintenance and evolution of their tradition.

Human Dimension of Psychotherapy Conference Format and Presentation Details

(The conference format is available as a PDF for printing here.)

7:00 - 7:15 pm, Introduction - Caroline Mardon: The Culture of Psychotherapy, Psychotherapy for our Culture.
Psychotherapy is situated within a cultural context, which has been a part of the humanistic, psychodynamic, existential, transpersonal and somatic traditions since their inception. What are the values that underlie this and what is their place with the cultural evolution that is taking place in Western culture?

7:15 - 9:30 pm, Keynote Address - Linda Page: How Psychotherapy Develops: Ontario in an International Context
Recent legislation in Ontario sets up a regulatory body for the profession of psychotherapy. The experience of international associations and practitioners from other countries, as well as the rest of Canada, suggests possible scenarios for the development of psychotherapy. These scenarios have implications for how and where psychotherapists will be educated and trained.

9:30 am - 12:00 pm, Kirk Schneider: Existential-Integrative Therapy: An Emerging Cross-disciplinary Paradigm
We live in a fervent time for existential-humanistic therapy. Increasingly, mainstream therapeutic approaches are recognizing the value of key existential themes-holism, presence, and the significance of the personal, both within the client and between client and therapist. At the same time, however, there is an equally intensive trend toward short-term, solution focused approaches. This talk will examine Existential-Integrative (EI) Psychotherapy in the light of these trends. EI therapy elucidates one way to understand and coordinate a variety of therapeutic approaches within an overarching existential context. After addressing the basics of this approach, I will touch upon the potential for EI therapy, not only to revitalize the profession, but the culture at large. I will pose urgent questions about the value of an EI oriented therapy and its accessibility to a diverse and growing clinical population.

12 - 1:15 pm Lunch

1:15 - 2:15 pm, Student Poster Presentations. Students from all the free standing psychotherapy training institutions in Ontario are invited to submit topics for presentation in a poster format during this hour. In a poster presentation, students create a poster of their topic which they display for conference attendees to read, so drawing them into conversation. This gives students the opportunity to put out their topics of interest and to get some experience in publically presenting their point of view. It also connects them to like minded professionals with whom they can conduct further conversations.

2:30 - 5:00 pm, Rae Johnson: The Embodied Psychotherapist: Somatic Psychology and the Therapeutic Relationship
The quality of relationship between therapist and client has become an increasing focus of research into the effectiveness of psychotherapy, and the person of the therapist understood as an important agent of change in the psychotherapeutic process. Somatic psychology further understands the body of the therapist as an extraordinary instrument in perceiving, processing, and transmitting psychological and relational data. This session will explore how drawing on our own embodied experience allows the therapist to inform and shape the therapeutic relationship with greater clarity, intention, and depth.

9:30 - 12:00 pm, David Lukoff: Transpersonal Psychotherapy and the Integration of Spirituality.
Transpersonal psychotherapy draws upon both psychology and spiritual traditions to create a bold new vision of a psychologically-informed spirituality and a spiritually-based psychology. Perhaps the core assumption of transpersonal psychology is that individuals are essentially spiritual beings rather than simply a self or a psychological ego. This perspective has profound implications for both diagnosis and therapy. This talk will present behavioral and phenomenological factors along with good prognostic signs that can be used to distinguish healthy from unhealthy spirituality without pathologizing clients' experiences or beliefs. This presentation will address how to provide spiritually-oriented psychotherapy and support for a client's spiritual journey in recovery from mental disorders and spiritual problems.

12:00 - 1:15 Lunch

2:30 - 5:00 pm, Dan Merkur: From Eros to Mystical Experience: The Scope of Psychic Integration in Psychoanalysis
Freud described Eros as a drive to make "one out of more than one" that "combines organic substances into ever larger unities." Active physiologically, Eros produces and maintains life. Psychically, Eros manifests in sexual drives, self-preservative drives, and the synthetic function of the ego. Through the "free intercourse" of the total psyche, the personality can achieve an integrity or wholeness that unites its sexuality and self-interests with its self-knowledge, conscience, and spirituality. Fromm, Bion, and others encouraged analysts to listen to their patients in meditative states. Grotstein, Eigen, and Symington interpret their patients' productions in ways that allow patients to share their analysts' meditations, so that patients may arrive at their own moments of meditative insight and experience. The meditative goal of making unconscious Eros self-conscious is mystical; it is also psychoanalytic.

Location: Hart House Debates Room, University of Toronto


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Registration Fees

Conference fee: $300
Early Bird: (payment before June 30, 08) $250
University and APTI faculty fee: $200
University and APTI student fee: $150
Friday night only: $25
AHP/ATP chapter meeting Sunday: no charge

Registration Form

Click here to download conference registration pdf



Rae Johnson, PhD, RSW, RSMT

Dr. Johnson, Chair of the Somatic Psychology Program at SBGI, is a somatic psychotherapist, somatic educator, and social worker who has taught and practiced in the fields of somatic psychology and somatic education for over twenty years. She is former Director of the Body Psychotherapy Program in the Somatic Counseling Psychology Department at Naropa University and the founding Coordinator of Student Crisis Response Programs at the University of Toronto. As the President of the Ontario Society of Psychotherapists, Dr. Johnson was instrumental in the early development of a coalition of mental health professionals who successfully lobbied for provincial government recognition and regulation of the practice of psychotherapy. Through her involvement with various professional associations, she has taken leadership roles in developing an alternate route training program for the Dance Movement Therapy Association of Ontario, organizing conferences through the International Somatic Movement Education and Therapy Association and developing bylaws for ethics and standards of practice for Somatic Psychotherapy for the Ontario Society of Psychotherapists. Her research interests include the somatic dimensions of oppression, embodied critical pedagogy, and feminist somatic research methods.
Licenses Earned: Registered Somatic Movement Therapist(r) (ISMETA); Registered Social Worker, Ontario, Canada (OCSWSSW)
Areas of Expertise: Somatic Psychotherapy; Somatic Movement Education; Gestalt Therapy; Somatic Research; Embodied Critical Pedagogy.

David Lukoff, Ph.D has been involved in transpersonal psychology for over 35 years, serving on the editorial boards of Journal of Humanistic, Humanistic Psychologist, and Journal of Transpersonal Psychology. He is currently co-president of the Association for Transpersonal Psychology, is a member of Division 32, Humanistic Psychology, and was elected a fellow of APA two years ago. He has published over 60 articles and chapters, including two in the Textbook of Transpersonal Psychiatry and Psychology, and one in Spiritually-Oriented Psychotherapies, published by the American Psychological Association Press. An article he co-authored on religious and spiritual problems published in Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease won the Exemplary Paper award from the Templeton Foundation. He has presented at dozens of conferences and lectured internationally. His work in co-authoring the DSM-IV diagnostic category Religious or Spiritual Problem has had national impact and contributed to the recent opening of the mental health field to serious consideration of spiritual issues in clinical practice. He is now working with a DSM-V Workgroup on Religious and Spiritual Issues. He has been a licensed psychologist for 23 years, on the faculty of Saybrook Graduate School for 18 years (where he was faculty chair for 3 years), and is now on faculty at the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology. He was a part-time psychologist at the San Francisco VA Medical Center for 14 years. He currently teaches graduate psychology courses on transpersonal psychology and psychotherapy, foundations of clinical thought, psychopathology, and case study methods, designing an advanced research methods course.

Caroline Mardon, BA (Hon), is Co-Founder and Clinical Director of the Living Institute, a member of the Alliance of Psychotherapy Training Institutions (APTI). She has been practising psychotherapy since 1991. She is a certified practitioner of the Holistic Experiential Process (HEP) Method. She is past president of the Canadian Association for Psychodynamic Therapists (CAPT). She is actively involved in the professional response to the regulation of psychotherapy in Ontario.

Dan Merkur PhD. earned his doctorate in comparative religion at Stockholm University and has since taught at five universities in the United States and Canada. When his research interests shifted from religious experiences to their long-term impact on personality, he trained as a psychoanalyst at the Toronto Institute for Contemporary Psychoanalysis. He is currently in private practice in Toronto, Canada. He is also a research reader in the study of religion at the University of Toronto. His many books include a trilogy on the psychoanalysis of religious experience: The Ecstatic Imagination (1998), Mystical Moments and Unitive Thinking (1999), and Unconscious Wisdom (2001). His most recent book, Crucified With Christ (2007), is a psychoanalytic study of medieval meditation.

Kirk J. Schneider, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist and leading spokesperson for contemporary humanistic psychology. He is an adjunct faculty member at Saybrook Graduate School, the California Institute of Integral Studies, and the Institute for Transpersonal Psychology, and is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association (through Divisions 32 [Humanistic], 42 [Independent Practice], and 12 [Clinical]). Dr. Schneider is presently editor of The Journal of Humanistic Psychology, and a member of the editorial boards of the Humanistic Psychologist, Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice (2002-2004), the Review of Existential Psychiatry and Psychology, Person-Centered and Experiential Psychotherapies, the Society for Laingian Studies, The International Journal of Existential Psychology and Psychotherapy, and the Psychotherapy Patient. Dr. Schneider is also past president and founding member of the newly formed Existential-Humanistic Institute ( of San Francisco. This is a training institute in existential-humanistic psychotherapy that holds workshops for Saybrook Graduate School and provides group case consultation. Dr. Schneider has published over 70 articles and chapters and has authored/edited five books-The Paradoxical Self: Toward an Understanding of Our Contradictory Nature (Plenum, 1990; Humanity Books, 1999, paperback); Horror and the Holy: Wisdom-teachings of the Monster Tale (Open Court, 1993); The Psychology of Existence: An Integrative, Clinical Perspective (co-authored with Rollo May, McGraw-Hill, 1995, translated into Slovak in 2005, and partially being translated into Russian), The Handbook of Humanistic Psychology: Leading Edges in Theory, Research, and Practice (2001, Sage Publishing Co., published in paperback in 2002), and Rediscovery of Awe: Splendor, Mystery, and the Fluid Center of Life (June, 2004, Paragon In March 1998, Dr. Schneider wrote the lead article in the American Psychologist entitled, "Toward a Science of the Heart: Romanticism and the Revival of Psychology," and he completed (with Larry Leitner) the chapter on Humanistic psychotherapies for the Encyclopedia of Psychotherapy (Academic Press, 2002). Dr. Schneider also wrote the chapter on "Existential-Humanistic Psychotherapies" for the second edition of the widely distributed Essential Psychotherapies (2003) edited by Alan Gurman and Stanley Messer. Dr. Schneider's most recent honors include listing in Marquis "Who's Who in America", "Who's Who in the World" (2004), and the Rollo May Award for "outstanding and independent pursuit of new frontiers in humanistic psychology" awarded by the Division of Humanistic Psychology of the American Psychological Association (presented at the APA annual convention, 2004).
In December, 2005 Dr. Schneider will be featured conducting Existential Psychotherapy for the American Psychological Association Video Series "Systems of Psychotherapy," to be available summer, 2006 on DVD.

- Vice President, Existential-Humanistic Institute, Adjunct Faculty, Saybrook Graduate School and Research Center and the California Institute of Integral Studies, and Editor, Journal of Humanistic Psychology

Linda Page, MA, PhD., President, Adler School of Professional Studies
After receiving her Ph.D. from Princeton University in 1973 and teaching at universities in the United States and Canada, Dr. Page completed an M.A. in Counseling Psychology at Adler School of Professional Psychology (ASPP) in 1987 and founded the Psychotherapy Institute of Toronto. In 1992, she became a core doctoral faculty member at ASPP in Chicago and took on responsibility for administering ASPP's M.A. program in Ontario. Dr. Page returned full time to Toronto in 1997 and founded Adler International Learning, whose coach certificate program was the first in Canada to be accredited by the International Coach Federation. In 2004, Dr. Page founded Adler School of Professional Studies to offer graduate-level training in psychology, psychotherapy, and other human service professions. In 2006, she and colleagues representing major psychotherapy modalities co-founded the Alliance of Psychotherapy Training Institutions to contribute the expertise of psychotherapy educators to the preparations for regulating psychotherapists in Ontario. Dr. Page is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor in the State of Illinois, certified by the Ontario Association of Counselors, Consultants, Psychometrists and Psychotherapists (OACCPP), and an Adler Certified Professional Coach. She is a member of the Society for Psychotherapy Research and the Society for the Exploration of Psychotherapy Integration and a column editor for the Journal of Individual Psychology. She draws on her background in sociology, anthropology, linguistics, cognitive and social psychology, and neuroscience to co-author with David Rock the book Coaching with the Brain in Mind, to be published by Wiley in 2008.

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