Ten live dialogues between Prof Ernesto Spinelli and International Existential Therapists based on case studies that illustrate key existential topics. Followed by a group experience facilitated by Bárbara Godoy and Guest Teachers to reflect on how clients are affecting, disturbing and inspiring our own relationship with Being.

EXISTENTIAL DIALOGUES – The Therapist in the Mirror
The guest teacher of the month opens this one-hour session with a fifteen-minute vignette that clearly illustrates their personal struggle with one of the key existential topics and how they resolved it in the session in a way they believe was beneficial to the client’s therapeutic process. Following this, they engage in a dialogue with Prof Ernesto Spinelli to deepen the reflection in search of insightful understanding.

EXPERIENTIAL STUDY GROUP – Reflections on Existence through Case Studies
Two-hour practical module where participants, inspired by the previous presentation and dialogue, share vignettes from their own practice with the Guest teacher and Bárbara Godoy. This process ends with the opportunity to experience oneself in a clearing. Here we can reflect on how clients are affecting, disturbing and inspiring our own relationship with Being.

Prof Ernesto SpinelliAbout 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’s 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

Ten Saturdays 2 pm to 5 pm GMT

28 Jan. “Space” with Prof Ernesto Spinelli
25 Feb. “Resoluteness” with Dr T. DuBose
11 Mar. “Meaning” with Dr K. Zymnis
15 Ap.: “Responsibility” with Dr K. Bradford
20 May “Embodiment” with Dr G. Madison
24 Jun. “Sexuality” with Niki D
08 Jul. “Play” with Dr B. Cannon
28 Oct.: “Identity” with Dr Y. Martinez
11 Nov. “Dreams” with Prof R. Romanyshyn
02 Dec. “Spirituality” with B. Godoy

Full course: £600 (2 pm to 5 pm – GMT) – BOOK HERE >
Ten Existential Dialogues: £300 (2 pm to 3 pm – GMT) – BOOK HERE >

Venue: Online Zoom


List of speakers, their chosen key existential topic and vignette by date.

between Prof Ernesto Spinelli
and Bárbara Godoy (Spinelli’s vignette)

28 January 2023

“Ludwig Binswanger, an early exponent of existential thought as applied to psychiatry, argued that the exploration persons’ relationship to their physical space and environment could provide significant clues as to their fundamental stance, or dialogue, towards their wider being-in-the-world. Inspired by this idea, I began to reconsider my ongoing work with my client, Russell, from the standpoint of his relationship with physical space. By his own admission, Russell had constructed a closed, restrictive, physical world which literally prevented entry by others unless it was of his own choosing. In achieving this, he had succeeded in cocooning himself from the demands – and delights – of others” Prof Ernesto Spinelli.

Professor Ernesto Spinelli was Chair of the Society for Existential Analysis between 1993 and 1999 and is a Life Member of the Society. His writings, lectures and seminars focus on the application of existential phenomenology to the arenas of therapy, supervision, psychology, and executive coaching. He is a Fellow of the British Psychological Society (BPS) as well as an APECS accredited executive coach and coaching supervisor. In 2000, he was the Recipient of BPS Division of Counselling Psychology Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Profession. And in 2019, Ernesto received the BPS Award for Distinguished Contribution to Practice. His most recent book, Practising Existential Therapy: The Relational World 2nd edition (Sage, 2015) has been widely praised as a major contribution to the advancement of existential theory and practice. Living up to the existential dictum that life is absurd, Ernesto is also the author of an on-going series of Private Eye novels.

Recommended reading for Space:

Binswanger, L. (1963). Being-in-the-World: Selected Papers of Ludwig Binswanger. (J. Needleman, trans.) New York: Harper Torchbooks.
Spinelli, E. (2006). Tales of Un-Knowing: Therapeutic encounters from an existential perspective. Hay-on-Wye: PCCS Books.
Spinelli, E. (2005) The Interpreted World: An introduction to phenomenological psychology (2nd Edition). London: Sage.

between Prof Ernesto Spinelli and
Dr Todd DuBose

25 February 2023

“I will be looking at Heidegger’s understanding of resoluteness and differentiating it in relation to other familiar categories in existential discourse, such as agency, choice, decisiveness, authenticity and releasement. I will explore the paradox of how we clear space when we are resolutely involved.” Dr Todd DuBose

Dr Todd DuBose is a world-renowned, Distinguished Full Professor at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology, where for the past 15 years he has taught philosophical foundations and practices of the human science psychology and has been the coordinator for the existential-hermeneutical-phenomenological orientation for therapeutic care. He holds degrees in continental and comparative philosophy of religion and existential-hermeneutical-phenomenological human science clinical psychology and integrates these approaches in caring for experiences of the impossible (no way out, boundary or limited situations), and extreme experiences (such as psychosis, nihilism, suicidal and homicidal ideation, violence, traumatic loss, existential crises of meaning, and paranormal or anomalous experiences). He was one of the co-founders of the American Association for Existential Analysis, which has been transformed into the newly formed American Institute for Daseinsanalysis under new leadership. He is the founder of The Khora Institute, which focuses on caring for people who get left out or subjugated by hegemonic practices of institutional care. He has most recently published on hope and existential survival in the COVID-19 pandemic and has also recently written a short dialogue with Miles Groth, edited by Loray Daws, called Dialogues on the Soul of Existential Therapy, published by the Society for Existential Analysis.

Recommended reading for Resoluteness:

Heidegger, M. (1964). Being and Time, (particularly Division Two, Section II), Macquarrie, J. and Robinson, E., Trans. New York: Harper and Row. pp. 312-348.

Schurmann, R. and Critchley, S. (2008). On Heidegger’s Being and Time (particularly regarding Critchley’s “Original Inauthenticity”). London: Routledge. pp. 132-152.

Tillich, P. (2014). The courage to be. New Haven: Yale.

between Prof Ernesto Spinelli and
 Dr Katerina Zymnis

11 March 2023

“I will be addressing the concept of meaning within the realm of the therapeutic encounter.
We will be exploring my client’s Athena sense of meaninglessness and her urgent need to give structure to her chaotic life. Our sessions became an invitation to delve into unknown territories that turned uncertainty into an opportunity to live life at its fullest” Katerina Zymnis

Katerina Zymnis Georgalos, PhD, is a founding member, co-director, trainer and supervisor at the Hellenic Association for Existential Psychology, gignesthai. She works as a psychotherapist with individuals, families and groups. She teaches in post graduate programs at Panteion University of Social and Political Sciences, at The American College of Greece and at the University of Thessalia. Her area of interest in research is the process and outcome of psychotherapy as well as the use of qualitative methods of data analysis. She has contributed with her writing in several books and articles related to existential therapy and psychotherapy process and outcome.

Katerina is a European Certified Psychotherapist (ECP), and an active member of HELASYTH (Hellenic Association for Systemic Therapy) and EFTA (European Association for Family Therapy). She is a member of the board of FETE (Federation for Existential Therapy in Europe), Chair of the FETE organizing committee of the 2nd European Existential Therapy Conference in Athens (2020) and Co-chair of the organizing committee of the 3rd World Existential Therapy Conference to be held in Athens (2023).

Recommended reading for Meaning:

Spinelli, E. (2005). The interpreted world: An introduction to phenomenological psychology. Sage.
Frankl, V. E. (2014). The will to meaning: Foundations and applications of logotherapy. Penguin.
Tillich, P. (2008). The courage to be. Yale University Press.
May, R. (2015). The discovery of being. WW Norton & Company.

between Prof Ernesto Spinelli and
 Dr Ken Bradford

15 April 2023

Ben Bradford“In therapy and spiritual practice, the question of responsibility is central to any quest for authenticity. In the vignette here presented, I was challenged to respond – to be responsible – to a client’s demand for validating a traumatic memory I could neither honestly confirm nor disconfirm. In the face of my client’s agony, rage and desperate need for validation, I felt pulled toward to validate her memory; both as a measure of reassurance for her and to avoid being a (transferential) target of her outrage. This presented me with the choice of reacting – out of my desire to support her and fear of her rage – or responding : relating to her unconditioned by desire or fear, but honestly out of my own vulnerable openness and attunedness. The response-ability I was able to exercise with her was informed by my understanding of authentic presence: a being-grounded in relational openness. Dwelling in genuine openness catalyzes the ability to respond from luminating, unconditional awareness. ” Dr Ken Bradford

Dr Ken Bradford, PhD is a Clinical Psychologist, teacher, author and contemplative yogin integrating Buddhist and radical Existential thought and practice. On this basis, he developed an ontologically-keyed practice of Contemplative-Existential Therapy, which he formerly taught and practised in the San Francisco Bay area, including as an Adjunct Professor at John F. Kennedy University and the California Institute of Integral Studies. His publications include numerous peer-reviewed journal articles, most recently on ‘Radical Authenticity’; ‘Non-self Psychology’; and ‘Drawing from a Deeper Well: Contemplative Asian Sources of Radical Existential Thought’. His books include The I of the Other: Mindfulness-Based Diagnosis & the Question of Sanity; Listening from the Heart of Silence: Nondual Wisdom and Psychotherapy, Vol. 2 (with John Prendergast); and Opening Yourself: The Psychology and Yoga of Self-liberation (currently in press).

Recommended books:

Ken Bradford, PhD. (2021).Opening Yourself: The Psychology and Yoga of Self-liberation. Sumeru Press.

Ken Bradford, PhD. (2013). The I of the Other: Mindfulness-based Diagnosis and the Question of Sanity. Paragon House.

James Bugental. (1978). Psychotherapy and Process. Random House

between Prof Ernesto Spinelli and
 Dr Greg Madison

20 May 2023

Greg Madison“Existential Psychotherapy, any therapy, all of us, so readily fall back into conceptual forms of thinking and understanding. We can get lost in theory, philosophy, and ideologies without checking to see which of these actually resonate with our felt experience of living. If we place our existence first, then words and concepts become the epi-phenomena and our bodily feelings become the guide to understanding which descriptions work and in exactly what way. We find that the body is not an enclosed subjectivity but the location of a whole system of interactions stretching far beyond the ‘individual’ as usually conceived. If we take embodiment as core to our practice, then we all become philosophers and poets in a very concrete way.” Dr Greg Madison

Dr. Greg Madison is a Chartered Psychologist and Associate Fellow of the BPS and Registered existential Psychotherapist (UKCP/EAP). He regularly lectures internationally and teaches workshops in the UK while maintaining a limited private practice online. Greg’s academic studies in psychology began in 1979, when he first learned about the work of the existential philosopher Eugene Gendlin, and he has been practicing as a psychotherapist and Focusing teacher now for over thirty years. He wrote a small book called ‘The End of Belonging’, exploring the concept of “existential migration” and has edited two books on Focusing Oriented Psychotherapy as well as co-edited a text on Existential Therapy. Having been exposed to many psychological theories and most of the various models of psychotherapy, Greg maintains a sceptical perspective regarding our current ‘knowledge’ about psychology, claims about the meaning of life, and scientific beliefs that explain existence and human functioning. Greg believes that it is crucial that we remain as open as possible to the complexity of human existence: each person teaches us something universal and also something unique about the everyday dilemmas of being human and the unanswered deeper questions of our place in the universe. In his work, Greg Madison emphasises what a person concretely experiences moment-by-moment and how in existential work it is our experience that continues to unfold and enrich our understanding of ‘self’ as living process.

Recommended books for Embodiment:

Greg Madison (Ed.) (2014)Theory and Practice of Focusing-Oriented Psychotherapy. Beyond the Talking Cure (Vol.1) Jessica Kingsley Publications, London/New York

Gendlin, Eugene T. (1998). Focusing-Oriented Psychotherapy: A Manual of the Experiential
Method. New York, NY: The Guilford Press

Focusing oriented Therapies: https://www.youtube.com/@FocusingOrientedTherapies

between Prof Ernesto Spinelli and
 Niki D

24 June 2023

“Sexuality can awaken us to our interrelated being. A way of knowing ourselves through someone else” (Smith-Pickard)

“Our unique or ontic expressions of ‘being sexual’ reveal aspects of ourselves and the way in which we respond to the ontological givens of relatedness, embodiment and uncertainty. The term existential sexuality describes sexuality from an embodied, relational experience, where the intersubjective nature of sexuality is emphasised, rather than reducing sexuality to drives, physiology or cultural norms.

“We judge what we don’t understand” (unknown source)

The co-creation of a unique, open relationship can be a wonderfully empowering and uniting experience for couples who have been a closed dyad. It can also be intense, exhausting, confusing and distressing. In this discussion, I want to hone in on the specific factors and challenges that may present when one partner is requesting a move to an open or polyamorous relationship and the other is reluctant. Examining different views and assumptions about relationship styles can feel like walking a tightrope, especially when a client’s unreflected mononormative bias is in the room. It’s a theme that has tripped me up in sessions and one I would like to explore further in this dialogue.” Niki D

Niki D is an existential psychotherapist with 30 years’ experience in private practice, statutory and voluntary sectors. She works with individuals and groups, as a relationship therapist, supervisor, CPD trainer and a visiting lecturer at Regents University. She has an MA in Existential Psychotherapy, a diploma in working with GSRD clients (gender, sexual and relationship diverse) in Relationship Therapy and additional training in somatic body therapy. She is a clinical associate of Pink Therapy and has recently written a chapter on working with couples opening up their relationship – for the fourth volume in the Pink Therapy series (co-edited by Dominic Davies & Silva Nieves and due to be published in 2023).

between Prof Ernesto Spinelli and
Dr Betty Cannon

8 Jul 2023

Betty Cannon“Play and an attitude toward life that I call the ‘spirit of play’ lie at the heart of my approach to therapy, which is deeply and specifically grounded in the philosophy of Sartre. As Sartre describes it, play is the ‘least possessive attitude’ — an activity that ‘strips the real of its reality’ and thereby allows us to take ourselves less seriously. It is deeply and intimately connected with our freedom. My favourite psychoanalyst, D. W. Winnicott, who was also a paediatrician, described the process of psychotherapy itself as ‘two people playing together’ — or, where one of them is unable to play, learning to play together. I agree. I view psychotherapy as a very particular form of play that invites the client (and perhaps also the therapist) to move away from what Sartre calls the ‘spirit of seriousness’ in the direction of the ‘spirit of play’. As I see it, it would be great if the whole field of psychotherapy could become more ‘playful’ and less ‘serious’ than it sometimes appears to be. In the vignette I will be discussing with Ernesto, my client is a very ‘serious’ but nice fellow who has forgotten how to play. As we eventually discovered, he had very good reasons for forgetting, going back to his earliest childhood. His inability to play and my reaction to it led to an impasse in the therapy. It was the same impasse that he experienced with women outside of therapy, which was his reason for coming to therapy in the first place. ” Dr Betty Cannon

Betty Cannon, PhD, is a licensed psychologist who has practised 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-centred 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.

Recommended reading for Play:

D.W. Winnicott’s classic: Playing and Reality.
Johan Huizinga’s classic book on play: Homo Ludens. (It doesn’t specifically discuss psychotherapy, but it’s good on defining play in general and discussing its many manifestations throughout history and cultures.)
In the Spirit of Play: Applied Existential Psychotherapy from Reed Lindberg and Dr Betty Cannon (Article on this topic for a special edition of the International Journal of Psychotherapy on existential therapy. Download it here >)

between Prof Ernesto Spinelli and
Dr Yaqui Martinez

28 October 2023

Yaqui MartinezOur culture has built an idol: personal identity. From an early age we are taught (in subtle ways) to build a sense of ourselves that is stable, that shows continuity with the past, and that ensures permanence in the future. However, existence is a changing and mobile flux that constantly challenges us and demands to renew our sense of identity. What or who are we really? Can we find a way to define ourselves that can remain stable in the face of the constant changes of existence? What elements do we have to define ourselves? What does it mean to be identical with ourselves? Perhaps we need to rethink Sartre’s comment: “They say we are made of clay and mud; but rather we are made of wind” Dr Yaqui Martinez

Dr Yaqui Andrés Martínez Robles is a psychologist with PsyD in Psychotherapy. He has specialities in Gestalt Therapy, Music Therapy, Transpersonal Psychology, Narrative and postmodern therapies and Social Constructionism. He is the author of four books focused on the existential perspective. Yaqui is the founder of the Circle of Studies in Existential Therapy, in Mexico City. He teaches existential-phenomenological psychology and therapy in Mexico and different countries of South America. He is the current president of the Latin American Association of Existential Psychotherapy. He works in private practice as an existential-phenomenological therapist and coach.

Recommended reading for “Identity”

Mark Siderits et al; “Self, No Self”
Shaun Gallagher; “The Oxford handbook of the Self”
Dan Zahavi; “Self and other”

between Prof Ernesto Spinelli and
 Prof Robert Romanyshyn

11 November 2023

Robert Romanyshyn“My approach to dreams is an imaginal one, which draws not only on the traditions of existential phenomenology and depth psychology but also on my work over the years with theatre folk. In these contexts, I regard the dream as a play performed in the night theatre of soul, staged in the far county of a different world. As such, I begin not with interpretations of what a dream might mean. Instead, I begin with the dream as a display of the possibility of possibility, and, as such, emphasise that the mood of the dream is not indicative but subjunctive, which is the sense that Freud had in describing a dream in terms of the wish, but which his method of interpretation ignored. Them, through a series of procedures developed over the years, I invite the dreamer to rehearse or try on the different characters presented in the dream by embodying and enacting them within its setting. Who does one become and how does one act in a different country? Using this approach as the first step in which the dream is making sense of the dreamer, the second step of making sense of the dream via interpretations can be taken.” Prof Robert Romanyshyn

Robert D. Romanyshyn, an Affiliate Member of The Inter-Regional Society of Jungian Analysts, a Fellow of the Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture, and a Professor Emeritus of Clinical Psychology at Pacifica Graduate Institute, was recently awarded the Distinguished Lifetime Contributions to Humanistic Psychology Award from the Society for Humanistic Psychology APA Division 32.
He has published eight books and numerous articles in psychology, philosophy, education, and literary journals. He is also a published poet and has written a one-act play about Frankenstein. In 2009 he created a multi-media DVD entitled Antarctica: Inner journeys in the Outer World, which offers a psychological reflection on the melting polar ice. In addition to online seminars and interviews, he has given lectures and workshops at universities and professional societies in the U.S., Europe, Australia, South Africa, Canada, and New Zealand.

Recommended Reading for Dreams:

1-RR Promotion video  https://vimeo.com/798811602/4e7ff91e6a.
Full video https://vimeo.com/794443880/421a526b15

2 Dreams and the Anthropological Conditions of Dreaming, in Charles E. Scott (ed.). On Dreaming: An Encounter with Medard Boss (1977). Scholars Press.

3-Machiel Klerk (2022). Dream Guidance. Carlsbad, CA: Hay House.

between Prof Ernesto Spinelli and
 Bárbara Godoy

2 December 2023

Barbara Godoy Existential Psychotherapist “What is spirituality? Nietzsche says that with the emergence of monotheism our imagination about opening our possibilities of being is inhibited. I had a funny conversation with a colleague from one of the CPD groups, who was upset about a certain client challenging binary gender identification. Perhaps the current emphasis on diversity is an opportunity to mobilise a different relation to spirituality. In this dialogue, I will share my reflections about the encounter with this colleague to explore my own assumptions about the tyranny of monotheism and my own perceptions about the importance of the ‘Panthe’ and the ‘Poly’ dimensions of Being. Can Spinoza’s god be a point of reference on the issue of spirituality for existential therapists? Should we consider studies of pre-monotheist traditions a valid subject or a possible foundation in existential training?” Bárbara Godoy

Bárbara Godoy M.A., Adv. Dip. Exi. Psy, UKCP accredited Psychotherapist and Supervisor, MBACP and SEA – Director of Therapy Harley Street. Bárbara’s academic experience in London since 2008 includes lecturing and researching on the theory and practice of Phenomenological Existential Therapy on Doctorate, MA and professional courses at the School of Psychotherapy and Counselling Psychology, Regent’s University and the New School of Psychotherapy and Counselling directed by Emmy van Deurzen. Bárbara has facilitated therapeutic Group Work internationally since 1997. The question about the meaning of Being-Woman was the topic of her thesis completed in 2005 and evolved into two main Women’s Groups: “Nine muses” and “Four Seasons” which she leads in addition to her individual private practice. Currently, as the clinical director of THS, Bárbara leads a team of over 20 professional practitioners in the area of Psychological services and Wellbeing consultancy. Bárbara is also the founder-director of THS’s Personal Development and CPD Programmes.

Topic: “Spirituality” recommended reading by Bárbara Godoy:

Nietzsche, Friedrich (2003). Thus Spoke Zarathustra. Published by Penguin Classics.

Yalom, Irvin (2012). The Spinoza Problem. Published by Basic Books (AZ)

Dao, De Jing (2020). The illustrated library of Chinese classics, 7. Published by Princenton University Press