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Series of discussions, dialogues and conversations between Prof Ernesto Spinelli and International existential therapists.

EXISTENTIAL DIALOGUE between Prof E. Spinelli and Dr Betty Cannon. Topic: “In the Spirit of Play: Toward a Psychology of Freedom”. Book here >

“Existential therapy is a wide ranging arena, with many perspectives and different views that also, fundamentally, share an attitude expressing a way of thinking and being with people. Representatives of the existential approach from different parts of the world have agreed to engage in an open-format discussion with me. Each of them will bring their own particular topic of interest as the focus for the discussion. From these, participants will hopefully see that existential therapy and existential thought in general cover a huge range of topics, view points and perspectives and explores these in a way that it is different, stimulating and enjoyable.” Prof Ernesto Spinelli

In the Spirit of Play; Toward a Psychology of Freedom

“We will discuss British psychoanalyst D.W. Winnicott’s well-known statement, ‘Psychotherapy has to do with two people playing together,’ in the light of Jean-Paul Sartre’s philosophy of freedom. I have suggested elsewhere that when we let go of the spirit of seriousness, what we may hope to put in its place is an attitude that I like to call the ‘spirit of play’. It is a life stance in which we embrace our own and each other’s freedom. I’d like to discuss: What does playful psychotherapy look like? What kinds of interventions might we use? And how might it differ from more ‘serious’ approaches? How is it likely to be experienced, and where is it likely to end up? And what does it mean for therapist and client to ‘play together’? I wonder if this idea of psychotherapy as play has something in common with Ernesto’s contention that the therapist ought to adopt the role of the ‘fool’ and to approach therapy from an attitude of ‘un-knowing’ or letting go of preconceptions (in so far as this is possible) in order to approach with fresh eyes the experiential world of this particular client. I look forward to a playful dialogue about all this.” Dr Betty Cannon

About Prof Ernesto Spinelli

“An internationally-recognised leader in existential therapy and coaching psychology, Professor Ernesto Spinelli developed and taught the first psychology undergraduate and PhD programmes to focus on counselling and psychotherapy research. He has contributed to a growing interest in, and professional appreciation of, existential therapeutic techniques.

Professor Spinelli publications and textbooks are standard reading for many psychotherapies and coaching training programmes around the world. His book, Practising Existential Therapy: The Relational World, 2nd edition (2015), was identified as the most influential contemporary text on existential therapeutic practice.” BPS

About Dr. Betty Cannon

Betty Cannon, PhD, is a licensed psychologist who has practiced and taught in Boulder, Colorado, for over 40 years. She is Professor Emerita of the Colorado School of Mines, Senior Adjunct Professor at Naropa University, and the founder of the Boulder Psychotherapy Institute, which has trained mental health professionals in Applied Existential Psychotherapy since 1989. AEP is an existential-psychodynamic approach (founded by Betty) that also has roots in Gestalt therapy, humanistic psychology (especially the person-centered therapy of Carl Rogers), and body-oriented psychotherapy. Betty is a member of the editorial boards of three international journals: Existential Analysis, Sartre Studies International, and Review of Existential Psychology and Psychiatry. She is the author of Sartre and Psychoanalysis and numerous articles and chapters on existential therapy. Her mentor was Hazel E. Barnes, who translated Sartre into English and who was the world’s foremost Sartre scholar until her death in 2008. Betty is her literary executor, and her book on Sartre is dedicated to Hazel. The title of the present dialogue is inspired by a book Betty is currently writing: In the Spirit of Play: Applied Existential Psychotherapy

(This Dialogue is part of “Existential Dialogues”. You can book each dialogue independently for £40 – book in Eventbrite or the ten dialogues for £300 book here)


Dr MANU BAZZANO “Therapy and the Daimonic” (22 January)

Dr KATERINA ZYMNIS “Diving into the Co-Created World of the Psychotherapeutic Encounter” (19 February)

Dr TODD DUBOSE “The Power of Phenomenological Openness” (19 March)

Dr MICHAEL MONTGOMERY “Reconciling the Past” (23 April)

Dr YAQUI MARTINEZ “Challenges to Existential Therapeutic Practice”(21 May)

BÁRBARA GODOY “Brainstorming the Basis of an Existential Laboratory” (18 June)

Dr BETTY CANNON “In the Spirit of Play: Toward a Psychology of Freedom” (23 July)

Dr GREG MADISON “Is Existence the Same as Experience in Existential Therapy?” (15 October)

Dr XUEFU WANG “Zhimian: an Existential Approach as Viewed from Chinese Culture”
(19 November)

Dr KEN BRADFORD “Radical Authenticity” (17 December)

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