Boulder Psychotherapy Institute

Advanced Training in Applied Existential Psychotherapy (AEP) — since 1989

An Experiential Psychodynamic Gestalt Approach   •   Boulder, Colorado

Module I: AEP Individual Training

Betty Cannon, Ph.D. and Robyn Chauvin, M.A.,L.P.C.

  • Explore the 4 cornerstones of AEP Therapy: Awareness, Contact, Experiment, Choice.

  • Develop the capacity to recognize and work with polarities (conflicting forces in the psyche).

  • Learn to attend to body and process as well verbal material and content.

  • Learn to work with defenses or boundary disturbances in here and now interactions.

  • Learn to role-play intrapsychic and interpersonal conflicts and dreams.

  • Learn to work with transference, countertransference, enactments, and present relationship in an AEP context - and to differentiate among the three.

  • Learn to deepen to emotional states and family of origin issues that move clients to profound change.

  • Learn to work with existential and psychodynamic issues that arise in the course of deep level therapy.

The Training: AEP interlaces the insights of contemporary existential and psychoanalytic/psychodynamic approaches with techniques inspired by Gestalt therapy and other experiential approaches. It takes into account the full spectrum of human experience--body, meaning, emotion, the impact of the past, and the choices that need to be made to create a different future. The approach was founded by BPI President Betty Cannon, who has published widely in the field of existential therapy. Her book, Sartre and Psychoanalysis, is often considered a classic in the field.

In this training, you will learn to attend to the Here and Now in a way that produces immediacy and authentic relationship. You will also learn to deepen to emotional states and family of origin issues that move clients to profound change. Body and process are emphasized along with verbal material and content.

Interventions inspired by Gestalt empty chair work, body-oriented psychotherapy, and other experiential approaches bring family of origin issues alive in ways that allow clients to image the future differently as they move forward in a new way. You will also learn to work with existential issues such as anxiety, death, aloneness, identity, traumatic shock, and other issues.

The workshop includes both experiential and didactic components. Lectures, demonstrations, videos, experiential exercises, and practice provide the opportunity to learn the skills of an in-depth approach that facilitates deep-level personal transformation. AEP work can be integrated with other approaches to allow for more immediacy in the therapeutic encounter. A 60-hour Certificate of Study is awarded at the end of the class. It should count toward Continuing Competency Credits for most mental health professions in Colorado - as well toward BPI's Advanced Certification in Applied Existential Psychotherapy (our 400+ hour intensive training program).

Tentative Start Date: Spring 2026

Certification Hours: 60

The Trainers: Betty Cannon, Ph.D., Boulder Psychotherapy Institute President and AEP founder, is a licensed psychologist and certified Gestalt therapist. She has worked with individuals, couples and groups in Boulder for over 40 years and trained and supervised psychotherapists for over 30 years. She is professor emerita of the Colorado School of Mines and Senior Adjunct Faculty at Naropa University. Betty is a member of the editorial boards of three professional journals: Sartre Studies International, Existential Analysis, and Review of Existential Psychology and Psychiatry. She is an internationally known author, lecturer, and workshop presenter. She is the author of many journal articles and book chapters on existential psychotherapy. Her book, Sartre and Psychoanalysis, is often considered a classic in existential psychology.

Robyn Chauvin, M.A., L.P.C., is BPI's most Senior Trainer. She is a music therapist and musician as well as a Gestalt Therapist and AEP therapist and trainer. She has been working in private practice in Boulder and Longmont since 2008. Her previous work was in in-patient psychiatric contexts and hospice, and she brings a wealth of insight and examples from those contexts as well as private practice to her teaching. Robyn offers supervision/consultation, practice, and process groups as well as trainings at BPI. A prominent member of the LBGTQ community, she is currently writing about gender identity, developmental issues, and the practice of psychotherapy. She is well-known in the BPI community for her humor and wit as well as her Dream Process Groups and the Dream Training Module she teaches at BPI. She has taught and co-taught (with Betty) many other training modules at BPI.

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