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Existential Psychotherapy and Counselling

Existential Psychotherapy and Counselling
Contributions to a Pluralistic Practice

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March 2015 | 264 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd

This book is for trainees and practitioners across the orientations who wish to incorporate an existential approach into their practice. Using a pluralistic perspective that recognises the diversity of clients and their individual needs, it shows trainees how and when existential concepts and practices can be used alongside other approaches.

A wealth of resources and the author’s writing style make this is one of the most accessible and inspiring introductions to existential therapy. Videos of existential counselling in practice and written case studies ensure existential theory is illustrated in practice, while reflective questions and exercises help trainees relate notoriously complex existential themes to their own knowledge and experience. A companion website offers relevant journal articles, video tutorials on existential counselling skills, the results of the author’s survey of the ‘Top 10’ existential films, novels and songs, and much more.

This passionate and insightful book is the ideal guide to help your trainees understand existential therapy and learn how to integrate its ideas and practices into their therapeutic work.

Mick Cooper is Professor of Counselling Psychology at University of Roehampton.

Relational foundations
Working phenomenologically
Freedom and choice
Purpose and meaning
Interpersonal perceptions and metaperceptions
Appendix 1 Existential films: Ten to watch
Appendix 2 Existential films: Ten to watch
Appendix 3 Existential songs: Ten to sing-along to


Cooper Companion Website
We are putting the finishing touches on all of the carefully crafted tools and resources that will soon be available to you on the companion website. Please check back soon to see what the companion website has to offer!

A very strong resource for any therapist with an interest in existentialism as a set of ideas and practices. It is learned, erudite, yet rooted and grounded in practice in a thoughtful and helpful way. The ideas are clear and sound, complemented with reflective exercises and thought-provoking questions, and draw upon popular literature and music as well as the more abstruse professional literature. Cooper’s aim to ‘give readers a vivid, practical and down-to-earth guide to existential therapeutic methods, along with the theoretical understandings that guide these ways of working’ (page 7) has been richly met.

Dr. David Mc Cormack, Adult and Community Education, Maynooth University
British Journal of Guidance & Counselling

One of our brightest lights delivers a practical, synergistic account of existential psychotherapy. Mick Cooper brings his passion for existentialism, pluralism, and the core principles underlying them to this superb book and companion website. For those of us committed to fostering authentic relationships, meaning, freedom, and potentiality, this is THE contemporary evidence-based guide!

John C. Norcross, PhD.
Distinguished Professor of Psychology, University of Scranton and Editor of Psychotherapy Relationships That Work

Mick Cooper's Existential Psychotherapy and Counselling: Contributions to a Pluralistic Practice serves as a worthy companion to his earlier, already classic, text Existential Therapies. Always highly accessible without resorting to superficiality or over-generalisation, the book engages, challenges, illuminates and, at times, infuriates. By so doing, it serves as an impressive example of how a pluralistic perspective can elicit novel and trenchant understanding to the ideas and practices of existential therapy so that they can be better compared to and contrasted with other contemporary approaches. Cooper's continuing affection for and curiosity about existential phenomenology weaves itself throughout the text as whole bringing to it a stamp of authority, as well as a healthy sense of humour and scepticism, that is sure to enlighten readers as well as attract new afficionados.

Professor Ernesto Spinelli
Director of ES Associates and Author of Practising Existential Therapy: The Relational World

Mick Cooper’s pluralistic practice is embedded in existential principles. In this book he demonstrates deftly that philosophical clarity enhances therapeutic work, no matter what your previous background or experience. He has laid down some well-placed stepping stones to ease the hazardous journey through the turmoil of human existence. 

Professor Emmy van Deurzen
Principal, Existential Academy, London

This is an extremely engaging and accessible book: A perfect starting point for those new to existential therapy and also a joy for those who are already familiar with the terrain. Mick writes beautifully as always, clearly summarising all of the key theories and practices as well as offering new synergies and directions, such as how existential therapy might be engaged with pluralistically, and what is to be gained from a focus on metaperception. The excerpts from therapy and everyday examples really bring the ideas to life. A must-have for any practitioner looking to engage with existentialism.

Dr Meg John Barker
Lecturer in Psychology, Open University

This is hugely important book and one that I believe is Mick Coopers most significant to date.  It could only have been written by someone deeply involved in all therapeutic perspectives, not just existentialism, but also and more importantly, in research and psychology.

He brings a wealth of therapeutic and life experience to the book and manages to illuminate some complex practical points with impressive clarity.

The strength of pluralistic practice is that it is research rather than theory based; that it starts from experience and that it is about questioning experience and understanding the human being in all their different contexts.  Existentialism, which is based on the research method of phenomenology works in the same way and it is this that makes the book work so well. Indeed it could be said that that the basis of all pluralist practice is existentialism.

It provides clear guidance for practitioners of all perspectives on how they can integrate existential insights into their practice if they are not already doing it which they probably are without knowing it. In this way practitioners from any perspective can become existentially informed and thus work more effectively but also more ethically.

It is as easy to read as it is full of insights, some obvious but not realised and some more challenging. I recommend it to people new to the field as well as those who think they already know it I guarantee they will be surprised.

Martin Adams
Regent's University

This book introduces a timely discussion on what it means to be an existential therapist.  Based on his extensive research Professor Cooper offers new ideas about the relational core of psychotherapy and initiates debate about how an existential perspective might embrace or enhance different therapeutic orientations. 


Professor John Nuttall
Head of School, Regent's School of Psychotherapy and Psychology

What a wonderful book this is!  Not only is it very good in itself, but it also points the way to how all academic books in the future may have to look.  All the way through there are references to websites and videos, and there is even a companion website with a number of extras - not to be found in many books at the moment. This is truly a friendly book, and a more or less ideal presentation of its subject matter.  

John Rowan
Association of Counsellors and Psychotherapists

This is a practical and pragmatic text offering a version of existential therapy that is flexible, integrative and inclusive. Students and trainers would appreciate the down-to-earth way in which the book illustrates the practical application of theoretical ideas to counselling practice, supported by the accompanying website resources. The book ends on a lighter note, with lists of the top 10 existential films to watch, books to read, and songs to sing along to, a nice way of reminding the reader that existential concerns are indeed everyday experiences.  

Helen Hayes, existential psychotherapist and counsellor
Therapy Today

A superb job of pulling material together and helping to advance an integrative alternative into the world of existential and integrative practices. The book enlarges our existential lens, which is very much in keeping with the existential spirit!

Kirk Schneider, Ph.D, Author of ‘The Polarized Mind: Why it's killing us and what we can do about it’ (University Professors Press, 2013)
President of the Society for Humanistic Psychology, Division 32 of the APA