John Rowan (psychologist)

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John Rowan

Born(1925-03-31)31 March 1925
Ford, Wiltshire, United Kingdom
Died26 May 2018(2018-05-26) (aged 93)
Alma materMiddlesex University
Occupation(s)Psychologist, psychotherapist, author
Known forSubpersonality

John Rowan (31 March 1925 – 26 May 2018) was an English author, counsellor, psychotherapist and clinical supervisor, known for being one of the pioneers of humanistic psychology and integrative psychotherapy.[1] He worked in exploring transpersonal psychology, and wrote about the concept of subpersonality.[2][3][4]

Rowan was a qualified individual and group psychotherapist (UKAHPP and UKCP), a Chartered counseling psychologist (BPS) and was an accredited counsellor (BACP). He worked in private practice in London.[5]

He described his therapeutic approach as humanistic, existential, authentic, relational and transpersonal.[6] He was an exponent of the idea of the dialogical self, a later development of subpersonalities theory.[6]

Early life[edit]

Rowan was born in Wiltshire on 31 March 1925.[7] He started his life at the Old Sarum Airfield, Salisbury[1] where his father was a squadron leader in the British Royal Air Force.[8] Consequently, his childhood was spent in a number of different air force stations. Whilst the family was in Cairo, his brother was born in a taxi.[1]


When he reached the age of eighteen in 1943, Rowan was called up to serve in the British Army.[8] Part of his service during the Second World War was in India, where he gained formative experiences.[1][9]

Rowan spent several years working in various occupations including encyclopedia sales, teaching, telecommunications, accountancy, research, and other office-based jobs.[8]

In 1950, he became involved in the work of the Walsby Association on systematic ideology. He lived and worked with Harold Walsby in 1950, and in 1951 joined the Socialist Party of Great Britain (SPGB) in order to learn the rudiments of Marxism. He became the editor of the SPGB's internal journal, Forum[10] but left the Party over the Turner Controversy.[11]

After gaining a degree, Rowan built a career in market research. He held the position of Managing Director at the Bureau of Commercial Research.[8]

In 1969, he began his group work by co-leading workshops in a pioneering group called B Now[8][12] which ran from his home in Finchley, north London.[13] In the same year Rowan joined the Association for Humanistic Psychology (AHP), which he would eventually chair.[14] During 1971, he co-led groups at Centre 42[15] in Kensington, and then later in 1972 at the Kaleidoscope Centre in Swiss Cottage.[12]

In 1975, he studied co-counselling, and practiced this method for five years. He later became a teacher of the Barefoot Psychoanalyst[16] model.[12]

In 1976, he published Ordinary Ecstasy.[17] This work is a summary and guide to all the branches of Humanistic psychology. He also helped to produce the radical men's magazine Achilles Heel.[18]

In 1978, he helped to found, with Giora Doron, the Hampstead-based Institute of Psychotherapy and Social Studies.[19]

During 1978, Rowan became interested in Primal Integration, training with this movement's founder Bill Swartley.[12] Rowan then offered this therapy as part of his practice.

In 1980, Rowan helped to found the Association for Humanistic Psychology Practitioners, later to be known as the UK Association of Humanistic Psychology Practitioners.[20]

In 1989, Rowan co-founded the Serpent Institute with Jocelyn Chaplin.[13][21][12] Both taught humanistic and psychodynamic theories and practices.

On the closure of this institute four years later, he joined the Minster Centre,[22] where he worked for ten years. Whilst there he trained psychotherapists, lead seminars, experiential training groups and supervision groups. He left the Centre in 2004, and worked in private practice, as well as provided master classes and workshops.[12]


During childhood, Rowan went to a number of different schools as a consequence of his father's career in the British Royal Air Force.[6] One such was King's School, Chester, where he was in the class of 1939.[23]

In the 1950s, Rowan gained a London University diploma in sociology, and was awarded a joint honours degree in philosophy and psychology from Birkbeck College.[8]

From 1970–79, Rowan studied with a variety of practitioners including John Adams, James Elliott, Bernard Gunther, Paul Lowe, Elizabeth Mintz, Al and Diane Pesso, John Pierrakos, Will Schutz, Julian Silverman, Jay Stattman, and Denny Yuson.[12]

In 2006, he was awarded a Ph.D in transpersonal psychology from Middlesex University.[24]


John Rowan was a Fellow of the British Psychological Society[25] (member of the Psychotherapy Section, the Counselling Psychology Division, the Transpersonal Psychology Section, and the Consciousness and Experience Section). He was also a Fellow of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP).[25] As a founding member of the UK Association of Humanistic Psychology Practitioners,[25] he was named an Honorary Life Member.[26] He was an Honorary Fellow of the United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy[25] and was a past member of its governing board, representing the Humanistic and Integrative Section.

Personal life[edit]

Rowan and his wife Sue lived in North Chingford, London. He had four children and four grandchildren from a previous marriage that ended in divorce in 1978.[1][12]



  • The Science of You (Psychological Aspects of Society Book 1) (Davis-Poynter 1973)[27]
  • The Social Individual (Psychological Aspects of Society Book 2) (Davis-Poynter 1973)[28]
  • The Power of the Group (Psychological Aspects of Society Book 3) (Davis-Poynter 1976)[29]
  • Ordinary Ecstasy: Humanistic Psychology in Action (Routledge and Kegan Paul 1976)[30]
  • The Reality Game:A Guide to Humanistic Counseling and Psychotherapy (Routledge and Kegan Paul 1976)[31]
  • The Structured Crowd (Psychological Aspects of Society Book 4) (Davis-Poynter 1978)[32]
  • A Guide To Humanistic Psychology (Association for Humanistic Psychology in Britain 1987)[33]
  • The Horned God (Routledge & Kegan Paul 1987)[34]
  • Subpersonalities: The people Inside Us (Routledge 1990)[35]
  • Breakthroughs and Integration in Psychotherapy (Whurr 1992)[36]
  • Discover Your Subpersonalities: Our Inner World and the People In It (Routledge 1993)[37]
  • The Transpersonal: Spirituality in Psychotherapy and Counselling (Routledge 1993)[38]
  • Healing the Male Psyche: Therapy as Initiation (Routledge 1997)[39]
  • The Therapist's Use of Self with Michael Jacobs (Open University Press 2002)[40]
  • The Future of Training in Psychotherapy and Counselling: Instrumental, Relational and Transpersonal Perspectives (Routledge 2005)[41]
  • Personification: Using the Dialogical Self in Psychotherapy and Counselling (Routledge 2010)[25]


  • Human Inquiry: A Sourcebook of New Paradigm Research with Peter Reason (Wiley 1976)[42]
  • Innovative Therapy in Britain with Windy Dryden (Wiley 1988)[43]
  • The Plural Self: Multiplicity in Everyday Life with Mick Cooper (SAGE 1998)[44]

He was on the Editorial Board of the following periodicals.


  • List of papers: John Rowan. "John Rowan: Ph.D: Independent Researcher". ResearchGate. Archived from the original on 9 June 2018. Retrieved 9 June 2018.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e Ward, Shirley (2013). "Dr John Rowan in conversation with Shirley Ward". Inside Out (70). Retrieved 27 May 2018.
  2. ^ Hermans, HJM (1993). The dialogical self: Meaning as movement. Academic Press. ISBN 978-0123423207.
  3. ^ Wilber, K (1998). The eye of spirit. Shambhala Publications. ISBN 978-0834822221.
  4. ^ "Who we are: subpersonalities". Mind Models. Retrieved 24 May 2018.
  5. ^ "UKCP Find a Therapist: John Rowan". Internet archive. Archived from the original on 27 May 2018. Retrieved 27 May 2018.
  6. ^ a b c Rowan, John; Trier, Mike; Wilson, John (2016). "Live Counselling 3 – John Rowan Counsels Mike Trier". onlinevents. Retrieved 26 May 2018.
  7. ^ Silvester, Keith; House, Richard (2018). "John Rowan: Obituary and Appreciation". Association for Humanistic Psychology in Britain. Archived from the original on 9 June 2018. Retrieved 9 June 2018.
  8. ^ a b c d e f Dryden, Windy; Spurling, Laurence (2014). On Becoming a Psychotherapist. Routledge. ISBN 978-1317752028.
  9. ^ McNay, Iain; Rowan, John (2013). "John Rowan. The Centaur, Subtle, Causal and Non-Dual". conscious. Retrieved 27 May 2018.
  10. ^ "The Socialist Party of Great Britain Forum Journal (1952–1960) low-res full archive". Internet archive. Retrieved 26 May 2018.
  11. ^ "The George Walford International Essay Prize". Internet archive. Archived from the original on 6 July 2006. Retrieved 26 May 2018.
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h "John Rowan website". Internet archive. Archived from the original on 4 October 2017. Retrieved 26 May 2018.
  13. ^ a b Chaplin, Jocelyn (2014). "John Rowan: A Personal Tribute". Self & Society. 42 (3–4): 23–24. doi:10.1080/03060497.2014.11102937.
  14. ^ Silvester, Keith (14 June 2018). "John Rowan obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 16 June 2018.
  15. ^ "History of the Roundhouse: 1960–1970: An Arts Centre Emerges". Roundhouse Trust. Retrieved 26 May 2018.
  16. ^ Southgate, John; Randall, Rosemary (1989). The Barefoot Psychoanalyst (3rd ed.). Loughton: Gale Centre Publications. ISBN 978-1-870258-06-7.
  17. ^ "John Rowan's web site: Ordinary Ecstasy (3rd Ed.)". Internet archive. Archived from the original on 4 October 2017. Retrieved 26 May 2018.
  18. ^ Seidler, Victor (1991). The Achilles Heel Reader: Men, Sexual Politics and Socialism. Routledge. ISBN 978-1136921902. Retrieved 26 May 2018.
  19. ^ "Institute of Psychotherapy and Social Studies". Archived from the original on 4 October 2017. Retrieved 26 May 2018.
  20. ^ "UK Association of Humanistic Psychology Practitioners". Retrieved 26 May 2018.
  21. ^ "The Serpent Institute". Retrieved 26 May 2018.
  22. ^ "The Minster Centre". Retrieved 26 May 2018.
  23. ^ "John Rowan's Facebook page". Facebook. Retrieved 27 May 2018.
  24. ^ Rowan, John (2006). Dialogue and the transpersonal in therapy. Middlesex University Research Repository (PhD). Middlesex University. Retrieved 26 May 2018.
  25. ^ a b c d e Rowan, John (2009). Personification: Using the dialogical self in psychotherapy and counselling. London: Routledge. ISBN 978-0415433464.
  26. ^ "John Rowan". UKAHPP. Archived from the original on 29 May 2018. Retrieved 28 May 2018.
  27. ^ Rowan, John (1973). The science of you. Psychological Aspects of Society. Vol. 1. London: Davis-Poynter. ISBN 978-0706700268.
  28. ^ Rowan, John (1978). The social individual. Psychological Aspects of Society. Vol. 2. London: Davis-Poynter. ISBN 978-0706701258.
  29. ^ Rowan, John (1976). The power of the group. Psychological Aspects of Society. Vol. 3. London: Davis-Poynter. ISBN 978-0706701494. Retrieved 26 May 2018.
  30. ^ Rowan, John (1976). Ordinary ecstasy: humanistic psychology in action. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul. ISBN 978-0710083449. Retrieved 26 May 2018.
  31. ^ Rowan, John (1983). The reality game: a guide to humanistic counselling and therapy. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul. ISBN 978-0710098146. Retrieved 26 May 2018.
  32. ^ Rowan, John (1978). The structured crowd. Psychological Aspects of Society. Vol. 4. London: Davis-Poynter. ISBN 9780706701647. Retrieved 26 May 2018.
  33. ^ Rowan, John (1987). A guide to humanistic psychology. London: Association for Humanistic Psychology in Britain. ISBN 978-1870351003.
  34. ^ Rowan, John (1987). The horned god: feminism and men as wounding and healing. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. ISBN 978-0710206749. Retrieved 26 May 2018.
  35. ^ Rowan, John (1990). Subpersonalities: the people inside us. London: Routledge. ISBN 978-0415043298.
  36. ^ Rowan, John (1992). Breakthroughs and integration in psychotherapy. Whurr. ISBN 978-1870332187. Retrieved 26 May 2018.
  37. ^ Rowan, John (1993). Discover your subpersonalities: our inner world and the people in it. London: Routledge. ISBN 978-0415073660.
  38. ^ Rowan, John (1993). The transpersonal: psychotherapy and counselling. London: Routledge. ISBN 978-0415053617.
  39. ^ Rowan, John (1997). Healing the male psyche: therapy as initiation. London: Routledge. ISBN 978-0415100489.
  40. ^ Rowan, John; Jacobs, Michael (2002). The therapist's use of self. Buckingham: Open University Press. ISBN 978-0335207763.
  41. ^ Rowan, John (2005). The future of training in psychotherapy and counselling: instrumental, relational and transpersonal perspectives. London: Routledge. ISBN 978-1583912362.
  42. ^ Reason, Peter; Rowan, John, eds. (1981). Human inquiry: A sourcebook of new paradigm research. Chichester: Wiley. ISBN 978-0471279365. Retrieved 26 May 2018.
  43. ^ Rowan, John; Dryden, Windy, eds. (1988). Innovative therapy in Britain. Buckingham: Open University Press. ISBN 978-0335098378. Retrieved 26 May 2018.
  44. ^ Rowan, John; Mick, Cooper, eds. (1998). The plural self: multiplicity in everyday life. SAGE. ISBN 978-1446238332. Retrieved 26 May 2018.

External links[edit]

  • Biography – George Walford International Essay Prize, archived in 2006
  • DAP (June 2004). "Getting Splinters". Socialist Standard. 100 (1198): 38–41. ISSN 0037-8259.