Meaning in Life

Friday 1st March 2019 to Friday 29th March 2019

10am - 4.30pm


Dr Joel Vos


All effective practitioners seem to help clients directly or indirectly to live a meaningful and satisfying life, despite the challenges they may be experiencing. However, some practitioners address meaning more explicitly and systematically than others. The majority of clients explicitly ask meaning-centered questions when they are at cross-roads in their life. Research shows that the more systematically practitioners address meaning, the more these clients improve. However, there are many myths and stereotypes about meaning-centered practices, possibly because in the past some meaning-centered therapists have been practicing in relatively normative and ideological ways. Therefore, this 2-day workshop will not only introduce the wide continuum of meaning-centered practices, but also review the empirical support for these practices, and focus on integrated, phenomenological-experiential ways of working with meaning (‘meaning-centered therapy 2.0.’). Overall, 60 clinical trials have proven that meaning-centered practices strongly improve psychological stress and quality-of-life, particularly in clients at cross-roads in life or with chronic/life-threatening physical illness. The aim of the first day is to introduce evidence-based meaning-centered theories and train basic meaning-centered competencies. On the second day, it will be explained how meaning can help to cope with life changing events and limitations. The workshop participants will try out giving meaning-centered sessions. Homework consists of reading and reflecting on meaning-centered questions about one’s own meaning. After this workshop, participants will be able to integrate some meaning-centered competencies in their own practices. Individuals who followed this workshop in the past said it was “intense”, “life changing”, “very clear and accessible” and “I will absolutely use this in my work and my personal daily life”.


The aims of this 2-day workshop are:

  • Introduction to theories about meaning in life and meaning-centered practices
  • Introduction to using meaning-centered coping with life changing events and limitations
  • Introduction to empirical evidence for meaning-centered theories and practices
  • Introduction to integration with other existential therapies
  • Training in basic meaning-centered practitioner competencies (assessment, meaning-specific, relational, phenomenological mindfulness and existential skills)
  • Practicing meaning-centered sessions with other workshop participants
  • Developing a sense of one’s own meaning(s) in life



1000-1100 Theory on meaning in life & meaning-centered practices

1100-1230 Theory and practice of meaning-centered assessment and meaning-specific therapy competencies


1300-1330 Lunch

1330-1600 Theory and practice of meaning-centered relational, phenomenological and experiential skills

1600-1630 Discussion & closure of the day


DAY 2.

1000-1100 Theory on meaning-centered coping with life’s limits & integration with other types of existential therapy

1100-1230 Try-out session 1

1230-1300 Lunch

1300-1430 Try-out session 2

1430-1600 Try-out session 3

1600-1630 Discussion & closure of the day

Level: Practitioners and trainees in counselling, therapy, psychotherapy, coaching, pastoral care, humanistic care, or nursing. Relevant for all therapeutic approaches, particularly good combination with other existential, humanistic and integrative-relational approaches.

A minimum of 6 participants are needed for this workshop to go ahead.

About the workshop leader:

Dr Joel Vos is psychologist and philosopher. He is leader of the Professional Doctorate in Existential Psychotherapy and Counselling at the New School of Psychotherapy and Counselling. He works as researcher at the Metanoia Institute. He organises and chairs the IMEC International Meaning Conferences, the next one will be 12-14 July 2019 ( He is a leading researcher in the field on meaning-centered therapy, with over 70 research publications including his book “Meaning in Life: an evidence-based handbook for practitioners” (Palgrave McMillan). An accessible book on the 50 most important aspects of his scientific research was published in 2017: “Fifty pictures of living a meaningful life”.


Required reading:

Vos, J. (2016). Working with Meaning in Life in Mental Health Care: A Systematic Literature Review of the Practices and Effectiveness of Meaning-Centred Therapies. In Clinical Perspectives on Meaning (pp. 59-87). Springer International Publishing. (To be read before workshop 1)

Vos, J. (2016). Working with Meaning in Life in Chronic or Life-Threatening Disease: A Review of Its Relevance and the Effectiveness of Meaning-Centred Therapies. In Clinical Perspectives on Meaning (pp. 171-200). Springer International Publishing. (To be read before workshop 2)

Vos, J. (2018). Meaning in life: an evidence-based handbook for practitioners. Palgrave McMillan: London. Part II (to be read before workshop 1) and part III (to be read before workshop 2).

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