President's Column

Existential Psychology and Therapy

Paul T. P. Wong
Paul T. P. Wong, Ph.D., C. Psych.
Trent University

Now that the 2nd Biannual Meaning Conference is behind us, it is time to look ahead: What will be the direction for INPM in the next few years? Is there a blueprint for the future? I will use this Column to share with you some of the new developments and projects.

After the Existential Summit and the Membership Meeting at the July Meaning Conference, one thing has become very clear – we need to create a Division within the INPM. This new Division will be named the International Society of Existential Psychology and Therapy (ISEPT).

After considerable debate on various thorny issues, ranging from the meaning of “existential” to the professional identify we want to adopt, we have decided to move forward with the ISEPT.

The consensus is that such a Division is needed to provide a home, a forum for all those interested in research and therapy on existential issues. We believe that a truly authentic psychology requires an existential perspective.

We believe that a truly human science needs to address existential, phenomenological issues, such as meaning and spirituality, which are essential to understanding the human condition and vital to fulfilling our human potential, individually and collectively.

In accordance with the spirit of the INPM, the new Division will be a “big tent”, welcoming researchers employing a wide variety of methodologies and clinicians wearing different theoretical stripes. Such openness will contribute to community building and the cross-fertilization of creative ideas.

Thus, existential psychology will encompass experimental existential psychology, humanistic-phenomenological psychology, transpersonal psychology, social and personality psychology, narrative psychology, constructivist psychology, theoretical and critical psychology, etc.

Similarly, existential therapy will embrace clinicians from different schools and traditions, including logotherapy and existential analysis, humanistic-existential psychotherapy, Jungian analytical psychotherapy, Adlerian psychotherapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy, narrative therapy, philosophical counseling, and integrative meaning-centered counseling and therapy.

Another impetus to this new development is that many INPM members feel very strongly that a new Division is necessary to more accurately reflect their professional status in research and psychotherapy. Therefore, this Division will have more stringent academic requirements for membership. Qualifications for membership in the ISEPT will be announced soon. Please stay turned.

The time has arrived for existential psychology and therapy to claim a spot in the center stage, because it has much to offer to both psychology and society in general. This new Society will give us the kind of identity and visibility we need to advance existential ideas. We are very excited about this new adventure as we move forward