About the Course
- Available Study Modes
- Intensive Study or Online
NSPC is at the forefront of the exciting, emerging field of existential coaching. Our courses were launched in 2010 and our standards are second to none. Existential coaching is a uniquely philosophical and deeply relational way of examining the paradoxes and challenges of human existence so as to empower clients to move forward in an authentic and reflective way. Drawing on psychotherapeutic literature and on existential philosophy, we teach coaches to work in a holistic way, engaging with the unique world of each client. Existential coaches encourage clients to look at issues such as meaning, authenticity, freedom, choice and responsibility, and how these come into play in their lives. Our trainees learn how to handle emotion in the coaching relationship. We encourage all trainees to go much further than applying coaching frameworks or tools.
The programme covers theory, skills training, placement and research. Prior learning can be granted for modules studied at level 7 covering the same learning outcomes as the NSPC equivalent – this can be discussed at interview stage.
Year one assumes no prior knowledge or experience, building your skills from the ground up. You will start with core competencies such as active listening, and build to a critical understanding of common coaching paradigms, as well as explicitly existential skills. Theoretical learning includes professional ethics, the psychology of worldviews, and a grounding in existential philosophy.
Year two provides an opportunity to start building a private practice with the support of supervision. You will also complete a research project, with the help of an experienced supervisor. This will be on a topic of your choice, and can take the form of a literature review or a qualitative piece. Students will build on the learning from year two, looking at existential leadership and ethical dilemmas.
The course leader is Sasha van Deurzen-Smith. Sasha is a graduate of the programme, and has been working in private practice for many years.
Programme of Study
Philosophical Worldviews, Religion & Belief Systems (online)
- This module will introduce the students to philosophical worldviews, religious practices, and belief systems that are relevant to their work. Students will be introduced to the way in which philosophical issues can be looked at from many different perspectives.
Existential & Human Issues (online)
This module will provide students with an overview of the existential approach and the philosophical and psychological underpinnings of human values, meaning and creative responses to anxiety.
Social, Cultural & Ethical Issues (online)
- This module wil enable students to be able to make appropriate decisions about consent, confidentiality, discrimination, exploitation, fairness, duty of care, and other ethical and moral quandaries in professional practice.
Skills in Existential Coaching (3 terms face-to-face)
The module is run over 3 terms, lasting for one full academic year. This will include empathic listening, responding, and identifying issues, values and beliefs, working with silence, reflecting back, paraphrasing, summarising, clarifying, and challenging. Some theoretical learning is included to ground your practitioner skills, examining different existential and humanist theoretical frameworks and key philosophers.
Students will have the opportunity to give and receive feedback from both their fellow students and the tutors. These skills will be reviewed each term, with different emphasis, affording trainees the means to develop their proficiency.
Students will be asked to work with their own material in the course of these exercises, and the depth and nature of these disclosures will be the responsibility of each individual. Issues of confidentiality will be clarified at the initial class meeting.
Term three will outline traditional coaching frameworks, essential skills and tools for existential coaching, and skills from other popular coaching traditions such as NLP.
Overview of Research Methods (online
This module will provide an understanding of the contribution of research to the growth of knowledge and the effectiveness of practice. It will give the student a grounding in research approaches, with particular attention to the strengths and weaknesses of qualitative and quantitative approaches.
Advanced Existential Coaching and Existential Leadership (face-to-face)
- This module will provide students with a focused approach to existential thinking and practice, covering the ideas of existential thinkers. The application of philosophical ideas to the practice of coaching will also be addressed, with particular focus on leadership issues.
Ethical Dilemmas and Ethical Practice (face-to-face)
- This module will cover both philosophical and practical aspects of ethical practice, and teach students how to deal with the various ethical dilemmas that might be encountered in their professions. On a philosophical level, students will refresh their knowledge about different approaches to ethics (e.g. utilitarianism, deontology, virtue ethics) that have been taught in the social, culture and ethics module. and will explore these using thought experiments to evaluate their own philosophical position and understand their ethical boundaries.
Supervision of Practice (3 terms online)
- During the second year of the programme all students are required to commence seeing clients in private practice. Students will be given support in establishing their practice and rigorous assessment of their professional performance will be carried out. Supervision will be provided by the New School, where supervision groups will have no more than six students and will be staffed by experienced clinical supervisors. Supervision at the New School will provide existential input to the student's practical work.
Research Supervision and Final Project (15,000 words)
NSPC will provide supervision of the student’s independent research towards their final project. Student will research an aspect of existential coaching that is of personal and professional interest to them and to produce a well written final project of 15.000 words to Masters’ standards, which makes a contribution to the coaching literature.
Accreditation and Careers
The MA in Existential Coaching is validated by Middlesex University, leading to an MA awarded by Middlesex University.
Successful completion of this 2-year programme leads to a sufficient number of hours of training and coaching practice for candidates to be able to apply for membership of the International Coaching Federation and various other coaching qualification schemes via the portfolio route.
Our graduates almost all go into private practice, which they being to set up in year two of the programme. Many hold additional roles in academia as authors and lecturers.
Year of course
Modules to be completed in year
Fee payable per year
(if no modules have to be repeated)
6 modules over 3 terms
9 modules over 3 terms
*NB You should also expect to pay for books, personal coaching, and professional registration.
Fees are charged per module as you take them, so costs are spread across each year rather than by an annual lump sum.
- An undergraduate degree in any subject (equivalent experience may be acceptable)
- Fluent English
- Personal suitability to be determined at interview
- Reliable internet connection
How You Study
The course is delivered via blended learning. This consists of online theory modules via Moodle, face-to-face skills modules in NW London, online research supervision and online supervision of practice. With 25% of attendance carried out face-to-face, this course is easy to fit around a busy life, and is accessible to those living far from London or with caring commitments.
Theory modules are asynchronous, except for a weekly chat to be decided between group members. Students work through weekly materials online, posting and discussing in the forum with the group and tutor. A weekly quiz ensures that you are absorbing the materials.
Face-to-face skills modules take place over 5 consecutive days. There are 5 skills modules in total over the two years.
Placement supervision is provided via group video chat on a weekly basis in year 2 of the programme.
Research supervision is provided from year 2, and can be done in a number of ways depending on what best suits both student and supervisor, but usually takes the form of email and video chat.
Students may take up to 4 years to complete should they need additional time.
It is possible to exit the programme early with either a PGCert or PGDip award, however, this may affect professional registration.
Words from Our Graduates
A uniquely profound and educational experience. I enjoyed every moment, even when challenging! The combination of theory, practice and research gave a strong overall training which prepared us for professional life in a way that I couldn’t have anticipated. The personal journey was equally important to me as the professional aspects of the training.
The range of lecturers – this worked for me as I got to experience, and engage with, a wide range of existential practice. Engaging with many different perspectives provided a rich learning experience.
Studying at NSPC was life-changing, professionally and personally. It gave me confidence to build and develop my coaching practice.