Emmy van Deurzen

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Emmy van Deurzen (born 13 December 1951 in The Hague, Netherlands)[1] is an existential therapist and honorary Professor at the University of Sheffield.[2]

After moving to the UK in 1977 to work with anti-psychiatrists, she founded the Society for Existential Analysis in 1988, and later created a London-based training institute for the approach at Regent's College in 1985, before leaving to found The New School of Psychotherapy and Counselling in 1996 at Schiller International University. In 2010 The New School of Psychotherapy and Counselling became independent and is now situated in South Hampstead, London.

Her therapy work is based in existential philosophy, as a form of philosophical counseling, and focuses on enabling people to reflect on their lives with equal attention to past, present and future in order to draw on their strengths, talents and abilities, whilst facing up to the limitations of life.


Emmy van Deurzen received a classical education in the Netherlands, before moving to Montpellier in France to study French and Philosophy, before doing a Masters Degree in Phenomenology and Existentialism.[1] She followed this by working in the psychiatric hospital of Saint Alban in Massif Central and then a psychotheraputic centre in Agen, during which she undertook a Masters Degree at the University of Bordeaux in Clinical Psychology.[1]

After moving to the United Kingdom in 1977 to work in a psychotheraputic community in London, she began teaching at Antioch University International, rising to Associate Director of the MA in Humanistic Psychology.[1] From this position she developed an MA in Psychology of Therapy and Counselling,[3] becoming Director of it in 1982 and stayed with the course through its move and merge with Regent's College in 1985 and 1989 respectively, becoming Head of the Psychology Department with the merger.[1] Whilst working at Regent's she founded the Society for Existential Analysis, and its accompanying journal, Existential Analysis in 1988.[3] This was followed by the founding of the School of Psychotherapy and Counselling in 1991, validated by City University, the former of which van Deurzen became Dean.

In 1996 she left Regent's College to establish the New School of Psychotherapy and Counselling (NSPC), a school which specialises in training students to become existential therapists, where, as of 2011, she remains Principal,[3] previously associated with Schiller International University, where van Deurzen was a Professor of Psychotherapy.[1] The New School of Psychotherapy and Counselling became independent in 2010 and is now situated in South Hampstead, London.

Van Deurzen has become a noted figure in the school of psychotherapy, being the first chair of the United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy, and an ambassador for the European Association for Psychotherapy to both the European Commission and Council of Europe.[3] Her work has been translated into a number of other languages, including Russian, Chinese and Spanish, and her Existential Counselling and Psychotherapy in Practice book was a bestseller.[1]

Contributions to existential therapy and psychotherapy[edit]

Existential therapy has its origins in applied philosophy, where Hellenistic philosophers used the Socratic method to reveal truths about personal dilemmas.[4] The practice was largely neglected until the twentieth century when existential theory began to be applied to clinical work undertaken by psychiatrists, mainly in Germany and Switzerland. By the mid-twentieth century the idea had spread to the United States and the United Kingdom.[4]

Deurzen has been instrumental (Cooper, 2003) in establishing the existential approach in the United Kingdom in the nineteen eighties and nineties, through her publications, through the creation of the Society for Existential Analysis (SEA) in 1988 and the creation of the International Collaborative of Existential Counsellors and Psychotherapists (ICECAP) in 2006. She founded the International Journal Existential Analysis, in 1988, which continues to publish articles in the field of existential therapy. She has also facilitated the training of hundreds of existential therapists in the UK by founding and directing the School of Psychotherapy and Counselling at Regent's College along existential principles and by setting up the New School of Psychotherapy and Counselling specifically for the purpose of existential training (Cooper, 2003). NSPC is associated with Middlesex University and offers joint doctoral programmes.

She further enabled the recognition of the approach in the UK when she was chair of the United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy 1993-1995 and at a European level when she was co-Chair of the training standards committee of the European Association for Psychotherapy. She also established a new approach to life improvement for the wider public, by setting up the Existential Academy and offering 'life training' classes for lay people as well as existential coaching training for professionals.

Her idea that human living takes place on four fundamental existential dimensions (physical, social, personal and spiritual), each of which is dominated by paradoxes, dilemmas and conflicts between polar opposites, has been built on by other psychotherapists (Jacobsen 2007, Barnett 2009).


  • 2013 - Nomination for a Life Time Achievement Award with the British Psychological Society.
  • 2013 - Honorary membership Latin American Association for Existential Therapy (ALPE)
  • 2012 - Lifetime Achievement Award, International Network for Meaning, Toronto, Canada
  • 2010 - Member of UKCP Psychotherapy Council.
  • 2009 - Professional Registration with the Health Professions Council (HPC) as a counselling psychologist
  • 2008 - Visiting Professor, Middlesex University.

As listed by the University of Sheffield.[2]

Key Publications[edit]

Her books have been translated into a dozen languages.[3]

  • Existential Psychotherapy and Counselling in Practice Third Edition (2012), London: Sage Publications
  • "Existential Perspectives on Coaching" co-edited with Monica Hanway (2012),London: Palgrave, Macmillan
  • "Skills in Existential Counselling and Psychotherapy" co-authored with Martin Adams (2011), London: Sage Publications
  • "Everyday Mysteries: A Handbook of Existential Psychotherapy Second Edition" (2010),London: Routledge
  • Existential Perspectives on Supervision" edited with Sarah Young (2009)London: Palgrave Macmillan
  • Psychotherapy and the Quest for Happiness (2008), London: Sage Publications
  • Dictionary of Existential Psychotherapy and Counselling with Raymond Kenward (2005), London: Sage
  • Existential Perspectives on Existential and Human Issues edited with Claire Arnold-Baker (2005), Basingstoke: Palgrave, Macmillan
  • "Existential Psychotherapy and Counselling in Practice" Second Edition (2002), London: Sage
  • Paradox and Passion in Psychotherapy (1998), Chichester: Wiley
  • Everyday Mysteries: Existential Dimensions of Psychotherapy (1997), London: Routlegde
  • Existential Counselling in Practice (1988), London: Sage
  • Das Kapital: Existential Perspectives (1987)

Translations of Books

  • "Existential Counselling and Psychotherapy in Practice", Third edition. (2013) Persian Translation
  • "Skills in Existential Psychotherapy" (2012) Polish, Greek, Russian and Danish translations
  • "Psychotherapy and the Quest for Happiness" (2011) Polish and Greek Translation
  • "Existential Counselling and Psychotherapy in Practice" (2010) Korean Translation.
  • "Existential Counselling and Psychotherapy in Practice" and "Psychotherapy and the Quest for Happiness" (2009), Chinese Translations.
  • "Existential Counselling and Psychotherapy in Practice, (2005)Spanish translation by Mexican Association of Existential Psychotherapy.
  • "Existential Counselling and Psychotherapy in Practice" 2004, Russian translation by Julia Abakumov-Kochunene, Rostov-on –Don: East European Association for Existential Psychotherapy.
  • "Vardagens Mysterier: Existentiella Dimensioner inom psykoterapi (2003), Swedish translation of Everyday Mysteries, transl. Hagelthorn M., Stockholm: Studentlitteratur.
  • Det Existentiella Samtalet (1998),Swedish translation of Everyday Mysteries, Stockholm: Natur och Kultur
  • Eksistentielle Dimensioner I Psykoterapi (1998),Danish translation of Everyday Mysteries Copenhagen: Hans Reitzels
  • Eksistentielle Samtale Og Terapi (1995), Copenhagen: Hans Reitzels

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "Emmy Van Deurzen". Retrieved 2011-09-22. 
  2. ^ a b "Staff Profile at University of Sheffield". Retrieved 2011-09-22. 
  3. ^ a b c d e "Keynote Speakers at The Open University". Retrieved 2011-09-22. 
  4. ^ a b Feltham, Colin; et al. (2006). SAGE handbook of counselling and psychotherapy 2nd Edition. London: SAGE. pp. 281–284. 

External links[edit]