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EP95 Invited Address 09a - Existential Therapy: Perspectives on the Therapeutic Relationship - Irvin Yalom, MD

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Topic Areas:
Invited Addresses |  Existential Therapy |  Therapeutic Relationship |  Psychotherapy
Evolution of Psychotherapy |  Evolution of Psychotherapy 1995
Irvin Yalom, PhD |  Miriam Polster
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Original Program Date:
Dec 16, 1995
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Invited Address Session 9 Part 1 from the Evolution of Psychotherapy 1995 - Existential Therapy: Perspectives on the Therapeutic Relationship
Featuring Irvin Yalom, MD, with discussant Miriam Polster, PhD.
Moderated by Carol Kershaw, EdD.

Existential psychotherapy is more properly viewed as a therapy informed by a sensibiity to existential issues, rather than as a discrete, self-contained school of therapy. It addresses the anxiety embedded in our consciousness of the parameters of existence, especially in our confrontation with death, meaninglessness, freedom, and isolation. I shall discuss these concerns, particularly those with the greatest relevance to everyday therapy practice. I shall discuss the implications of the existential sensibility for the conduct of therapy and the therapeutic relationship. Genuineness and authenticity are necessary. The therapist and patient are fellow travelers, both facing the same exigencies of existence. I describe a therapy which avoids diagnosis, avoids technique, avoids merger, demands therapist transparency, and unwaveringly focuses on the here and now. I define the here-and-now and explain the reasons behind the here-and-now. I will devote much time to describing how to work in the here-and-now: moving from outside to inside, from content to process, dreams, therapist self-disclosure, sexuality, and the removal of resistances to therapist-patient intimacy.


Educational Objectives:

  1. To list the four ultimate existential concerns.
  2. To describe the power of these concerns in psychotherapy.
  3. To illustrate how to relate authentically to the patient.

*Sessions may be edited for content and to preserve confidentiality*



Irvin Yalom, PhD's Profile

Irvin Yalom, PhD Related Seminars and Products

Dr. Yalom is a Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry at the Stanford University School of Medicine. His major areas of interest are Group Psychotherapy and an existentially - inter-personally based individual therapy. In recent years, he has taught via narrative using short stories and novels to teach the art of psychotherapy.

Dr. Yalom was the recipient of the first ever Lifetime Achievement Award presented by The American Group Psychotherapy Association (AGPA) at the 75th meeting on March 6, 2017 in New York City.

Miriam Polster's Profile

Miriam Polster Related Seminars and Products

Miriam Polster, Ph.D, is co-director of the Gestalt Training Center in San Diego, and Assistant Clinical Professor at the Department of Psychiatry, School of Medicine, University of California, San Diego. Along with her husband, Erving Polster, she is co-author of a book on Gestalt therapy. She received her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Case Western Reserve University in 1967.