Dictionary of Existential Psychotherapy and Counselling


Emmy van Deurzen & Raymond Kenward

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    • Copyright

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      To our mothers, Anna and Sylvia, for introducing us to our first existential concepts and experiences


      This book is meant as a simple, robust and reliable reference work for both the lay person and the experienced professional. It assumes no previous knowledge of the subject, yet has sufficient depth to be of use to the trained therapist. It is arranged in straightforward alphabetical order, and has a generous number of cross-references, each indicated in bold, so that readers may quickly find what interests them, and then, if they wish, go on to discover related ideas. We have included many quotations from the great existential thinkers, as an aid to understanding, and to whet the appetite of the browser to consult the original texts.

      The ideas in this work are generally philosophical rather than directly psychological, so that the reader coming to existential psychotherapy for the first time may wonder how philosophy could be relevant to the process of psychotherapy. For such a reader, the entries on philosophy and on existential psychotherapy might prove a helpful starting-point.

      The entries in this book are generally of three kinds:

      • Theorists, e.g. Arendt, Binswanger, Camus. We have included a number of non-existential writers considered to have contributed to existential thinking or where their ideas have provoked a reaction amongst existential thinkers, e.g. Descartes.
      • Existential Terminology, e.g. essence, falling, generosity. We have tried to avoid mere jargon, and to include concepts that are interesting in their own right, and for which the reader might imagine some psychotherapeutic relevance.
      • Related Subjects, e.g. humanistic psychology, identity, judgement. These are subjects not exclusively existential but in which existential writers have had something special to say.

      All reference books are guilty of sins of omission. Certainly this book might be twice the size it is, and we have had to make difficult decisions on what to include and what to leave out. But of course we accept full responsibility for its inadequacies, and content ourselves with the knowledge that we have striven to make this book, with all its limitations, errors and inevitable bias, one that will provide the reader with a ready reference to the wide range of fascinating and passionate ideas that form the background to the practice of existential psychotherapy and counselling. However, we extend an open invitation to the enthusiastic reader who wants to help make the second edition of this dictionary yet more accurate and complete. Please send your suggestions to either of the authors through Sage Publications, or directly by email to:

      RaymondKenward, raymond.kenward@nhs.net
      Emmyvan Deurzen, emmy@dilemmas.org
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