A Brief History of the Existential-Humanistic Perspective
The EHNW professional organization is rooted in the existential tradition within America and our broader Western culture. An existential perspective within psychology began to develop in the early twentieth century in the work of European theorists, most notably Ludwig Binswager, who were strongly impacted by philosophical existentialism through the writings of Søren Kierkegaard, Martin Heidegger, and Jean-Paul Sartre.
The movement of existential-humanistic psychology in America emerged on the basis of this foundation toward the middle of the twentieth century, predominantly in 1958 with the landmark publication of Existence: A New Dimension in Psychiatry and Psychology, co-edited by Rollo May. May, along with other prominent psychologists such as Abraham Maslow, Carl Rogers, and James Bugental, pioneered the establishment and shaping of American E-H psychology and its clinical applications to psychotherapy. Bugental, in particular, was passionately committed to formulating and articulating a detailed and comprehensive E-H approach to the psychotherapeutic process, as well as to the professional training and supervision of E-H clinical practitioners.
Bob Edelstein, the president and founder of EHNW, has received extensive training and supervision from Bugental, who was a foundational mentor for his development into a leading therapist, clinical supervisor, and educator within the present field of E-H psychotherapy. Edelstein and the EHNW development team believe that our culture and world are currently in need of growth-producing change, and that E-H values are integral and vital to this constructive transformation.
The Existential-Humanistic Perspective is not just an approach to Psychotherapy, but a way of being with one’s self, and in the world. This way of being is vital and liberating because it emphasizes the reality of direct, lived experience rather than abstract knowledge or detached involvement. It means a deeper and fuller experience of living. The E-H perspective encourages authentically being with one’s self, becoming more fully aware of one’s true identity, and choosing to actualize innate potentialities. It advocates a way of being with others in terms of engaged presence, honestly sharing one’s authentic self and affirming others to reveal their authentic selves. It supports a way of being in the world in terms of intentional commitment and actively participating in the constructive transformation of one’s community, society, and global culture.
If you would like to learn more about Soren Kierkegaard, Martin Heidegger, or Jim Bugental, click on the photos. If you would like to learn more about the EH perspective, here are some informational resources: