Remembering Sandy Sela-Smith

It is with much sadness that I share on behalf of the Rocky Mountain Humanistic Counseling and Psychological Association of the death of Sandy Sela-Smith. Sandy died on June 6, 2021 of pancreatic cancer. She was a founding member of the Rocky Mountain Humanistic Counseling and Psychological Association and the 2010 recipient of the Humanistic Exemplar Award, which was subsequently named after Dr. Sela-Smith. 

I first met Sandy when we taught together at Saybrook University. She taught courses on writing and transpersonal psychology, and she remained deeply involved with the Existential and Humansitic Psychology Specialization. In her capacity as a writing instructor and editor, she worked with numerous doctoral students at Saybrook University. Early on in my time at Saybrook, I was surprised at the depth of relationships she developed with many of her dissertation students—both those for whom she was serving on their committee and those for whom she was serving as editor. Her compassion and concern for students, and their writing, impacted more than the quality of the dissertation. Truly, she embodied a humanistic approach to editing and mentoring. 

In the years that I knew Sandy, I had the opportunity to work with her on dissertation committees, present workshops together, and serve on faculty committees with her. Some of my fondest memories of Sandy were in committee meetings when dealing with difficult topics. She routinely urged us to consider how our humanistic values should inform the way we approach difficult challenges. You could hear the compassion and the commitment in her voice as she time and again brought us back to our foundation. 

Sandy, too, was a dog lover, and I would be amiss not to share this important part of her life. She often sent me photos and videos of her dogs. Although I never met them, I felt like I had come to know their personalities. And her love for her dogs was evident in all her stories about them. This reflected how her humanistic values were not just about people. The interconnectedness of life—including the value of animals and nature—were part of who Sandy was. 

As Sandy went through her battle with pancreatic cancer, I stayed regularly in contact with her. She shared in many emails and texts, as well as a few phone calls, of how she was faring as she approached facing her own mortality. Her award presentation at the 2020 RMHCPA conference also discussed this journey and inspired many who were able to attend. Reading the responses to this presentation was truly heartening. Sandy loved life and wanted to live, but she also knew that, in reality, she wouldn’t. Through her writing and processing of her struggle, she also came to a peace with death that did not tarnish her love for life. This was not a perfect peace, as it rarely is when facing such a difficult path. Yet, she was honest with her struggle and with her peace, which was a gift to those who were part of this final journey of Sandy’s. I will always remember and cherish these final conversations—and I will miss them, too, as I miss my friend, Dr. Sandy Sela-Smith. These conversations were not unique with me. I know she shared her journey with many, and in doing this modeled again how her humanistic values informed every aspect of her life. 

In 2020, the RMHCPA board unanimously voted to name our humanistic exemplar award as the Sandy Sela-Smith Humansitic Exemplar Award because of the way that she consistently lived her humanistic values. Please join me and the board of the Rocky Mountain Humanistic Counseling and Psychological Association in mourning the loss and celebrating the life of Dr. Sandy Sela-Smith. We invite you to share your memories and appreciations of Sandy as a comment on our website or Facebook page. We will compile these and, once we have established our archives, we will have a photo of Dr. Sela-Smith in the archives along with the compiled messages to honor her legacy. 

Events by EHI Partner EHNW

Boundaries and Self-Care for Therapists

Student Salon 

November 7, 2020

4 PM to 6 PM

Facilitated by Dave Fischer, PsyD.

Online by Zoom, Logon instructions sent with registration confirmation
Cost: $20 for Non-EHNW-Affiliates, $15 for students, No Charge for EHNW Affiliates

Engaging closely with others who are in psychological distress can sometimes take a personal toll on therapists. Depending on settings and personalities, the demands of providing therapy can put a therapist at risk of burnout, demoralization, and even ethically questionable or dangerous behaviors. Acknowledging limitations, asserting appropriate boundaries, and maintaining regular self-care practices are important protections. We will discuss these issues in our salon. Students and new therapists are encouraged to attend. Seasoned professionals are welcome and invited to bring their perspectives and to share tips. 

A Path to Living Life Fully: 8 Core Tenets of Existential-Humanistic Therapy

Lunch & Learn

December 11, 2020

1 PM to 3 PM

Presented by Bob Edelstein, LMFT, MFT

Online by Zoom, Logon instructions sent with registration confirmation

Cost: $10 for Non-EHNW-Affiliates and for students, No Charge for EHNW Affiliates

An aim of Existential-Humanistic Therapy is to help our clients live an authentic and actualized life. It is a therapeutic modality and a way of being. Bob will describe and explore 8 key tenets of an Existential-Humanistic perspective in therapy such as Process Orientation, Self-and-World-Constructs, and Being-in-the-World.

Bob will work with a volunteer who will explore a concern in an abbreviated interview. Afterwards, he will debrief the interview with the volunteer and the Lunch and Learn participants.

This Lunch and Learn will be 2 hours, from 1-3 PM. The charge is the same as for our regular Lunch and Learns.

For more information about these events, visit: www.ehnwpdx.org

RMHPCA Partners with Existential-Humanistic Northwest (EHNW)

The Rocky Mountain Humanistic Counseling and Psychological Association is proud to announce its new partnership with Existential-Humanistic Northwest (EHNW). EHNW’s vision is to impact the world through our commitment to and passion for existential-humanistic values of authenticity, integrity, responsibility, inter-connectedness, inclusion, and awe. They provide education and training in existential-humanistic psychology in the Northwest United States. Some of their training events are offered online. RMHCPA will be providing information about many of EHNW’s training events and we hope collaborate on training activities in the future.

RMHCPA Endorses Dr. Kirk Schneider for APA President

The Rocky Mountain Humanistic Counseling and Psychological Association is pleased to endorse Dr. Kirk Schneider for president of the American Psychological Association. Dr. Schneider is a leader figure in humanistic psychology and the leading voice of existential-humanistic psychotherapy. His many contributions to humanistic and existential psychology speak for themselves.

While we are excited what Dr. Schneider’s presidency could mean for elevating an awareness of existential and humanistic psychology, this is not the only reason we are endorsing him for APA president. Dr. Schneider has many years of experience in leadership, including serving as president of the Existential-Humanistic Institute and the Society for Humanistic Psychology (APA Division 32). Additionally, Dr. Schneider has served on APA council. His success in these leadership roles demonstrate his preparedness for the role of APA president.

Dr. Schneider’s vision is the primary reason we are endorsing him for president. We currently are experiencing turbulent times in the United States and the world. Psychology has a role to play in healing from these difficult times. Polarization within the United States and much of the rest of the world, and within the field of psychology, has become an increasingly evident problem. Dr. Schneider’s experience, knowledge, and skill in working with polarization is greatly needed in the field of psychology. Furthermore, his call for a Psychologist General in the United States is sorely needed. As people in the United States suffer from the consequences of polarization, poverty, unhealthy amounts of work, racism, sexism, homophobia, and many other challenges, we need leadership rooted in the dignity and humanity of all people. We need leadership that is rooted in empathy and compassion.

Many of our board members know and have worked closely with Kirk. We know his integrity and compassion, and we know his vision for the field of psychology. We believe in his ability to help bring about the change and transformation that is needed. Dr. Schneider is the leader for professional psychology at this time.

If you are a member of the American Psychological Association, we strongly encourage you to consider voting for Dr. Kirk Schneider. You can find out more about his platform at this link: https://kirkjschneider.com/platform-for-apa-president/.

Conference Registration

Please click on the links below to register for the conference. If you are a RMHCPA member, you should have received a discount code for $20.00 off the registration price. If you join before registering, you will receive the discount code as well.

Continuing Education credits will be provided through APA Division 32, Society for Humanistic Psychology. Pending approval, there will be at least 7 CEs available. Continuing Education Credits must be purchased separately and must be purchased in advance.

APA Division 32, Society for Humanistic Psychology is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. APA Division 32, Society for Humanistic Psychology maintains responsibility for this program and its content.

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RMHCPA Sponsoring 2020 International Meaning Conference on “Facing COVID-19 and Beyond”

Tthe Rocky Mountain Humanistic Counseling and Psychological Association is sponsor of a special 2020 International Meaning Conference London (IMEC) that will be held on Saturday, July 25, 2020 from 8:00 AM to 3:00 PM MST. This conference is completely online, so RMHCPA members can attend from the safety of their own home. The conference will focus on Facing COVID-19 and Beyond. This is a great opportunity to learn more about how to practice existential and humanistic therapy in the context of COVID-19. 


Through our partnership with Meaning Online and IMEC, RMHCPA members can receive a discount to attend (approximately $12 USD). For RMHCPA Members, the price of the conference for is $48.79 USD (40 GDP) and for student members $24.39 USD (20 GDP). If using the RMHCPA discount, be sure that your membership is current.

For more information or to register for the conference, visit http://meaning.org.uk.

In Memory of Nicole Hohl, PsyD

Written by Cathy Calvert, PsyD

It is with great sadness that I share with the Rocky Mountain Humanistic Counseling and Psychological Association (RMCHPA) community the loss of one of our members. Nicole (Nikki) Hohl, PsyD, died on Tuesday April 7, 2020. She leaves behind a husband, 8 children, and 2 grandchildren. Nikki was not only a fellow RMCHPA member and colleague, but also was a supervisee of mine. I had the good fortune to be her very first supervisor in her first practicum. She arrived in practicum as a quiet and gentle person who did not say much, but when she did speak many times what she had to say was perceptive and thoughtful. As a new trainee she provided her clients with a space for exploration in a stillness that was filled with respect and safety. She started her training with some of the more difficult clients at the clinic and would hear from her cohort how “lucky” she was and how “brave” she was to be working with some of her clients. Nikki never saw her clients as difficult or that she was “brave.” She, in a very human way, saw her clients as those who needed someone to listen and be present in their pain. Our paths crossed again during her training and I had the opportunity to be her final supervisor at the end of her Psychology Internship at UCCS. Nikki continued to have a similar presence like she had at the beginning of her training—the kind of presence that created space for her clients to see themselves in a different way, a way that could create change for them. Through a compassionate approach, her clients felt cared for and supported while they experienced change. At the end of her training, she had become more confident and less quiet. It was if she had finally found her “pou sto” – gently hold a space for another.

Nikki was a wonderful clinician and knowledgeable psychologist and yet there were parts of her that even colleagues did not know. She married young, and she and her husband, married 31 years, had 8 wonderful children.  While Nikki was in graduate school getting her doctorate in psychology, she was also homeschooling all 8 children. She became a published author of a fictional novel during graduate school. Nikki had a dream to go to graduate school, get her doctorate in psychology, and work in a private practice. She completed all her coursework, post-doctoral residency, and as of March 2020, became a licensed psychologist and opened her own private practice. She reached her goal! Those that knew her personally were richer for the experience and those that she helped along the way were given a gift. I will miss Nikki and am grieving the future we would have had as colleagues. I believe our profession will miss her still, gentle spirit of healing as well.  

Click here to read Nikki’s obituary.

Sandy Sela-Smith Humanistic Exemplar Award

The Rocky Mountain Humanistic Counseling and Psychological Association selected Sandy Sela-Smith to be the first recipient of the Humanistic Exemplar Award, which subsequently will be named after Dr. Sela-Smith. This award is given to individuals who embody the values of humanistic psychology in their personal and professional lives.

Dr. Sela-Smith is a therapist in Colorado and served as a faculty member at Saybrook University for many years. She developed Heuristic Self-Search Inquiry as a research method. This approach has been used by many students for their dissertations. Dr. Sela-Smith is currently finishing a book on the Heuristic Self-Search Inquiry. She has published several other books including The Meaning of Three: Under the Mask.

Dr. Sela-Smith taught at Saybrook University for many years and also served as an editor for Saybrook dissertations. In her teaching and editing, Dr. Sela-Smith developed impactful relationships with her students. As faculty member, Dr. Sela-Smith consistently encouraged reflection on how to respond to challenging situations in a manner consistent with humanistic values. Truly, Dr. Sela-Smith has lived and advocated for the the values of humanistic psychology.

A founding member of the Rocky Mountain Humanistic Counseling and Psychological Association, Dr. Sela-Smith has been active in the organization and presented our annual conference. She continues her therapy practice and training from her home of Conifer, Colorado. More information about Dr. Sela-Smith is available at her website: http://www.infiniteconnections.us.

The award will be given to Dr. Sela-Smith at the Annual Rocky Mountain Humanistic Counseling and Psychological Association Conference.

In Memory of Sue Wallingford

This past week, the humanistic and transpersonal psychology communities lost one of our long time leaders, Sue Wallingford. The Rocky Mountain Humanistic Counseling and Psychological Association mourns her loss and wishes to express our condolences to the many family, friends, colleagues, students, and clients who cared deeply for Sue.

Sue was a professor at Naropa University for 25 years and served in many capacities, including as faculty member in both the graduate Mindfulness-Based Transpersonal Counseling and Transpersonal Art Therapy programs.  Sue’s many accomplishments include founding the Naropa Community Art Studio-International and Partners for Social Justice, an organization that brought art therapy to international populations. For the last many years, Sue led international trips to Cambodia, bringing support to those impacted by domestic violence, poverty, and sex trafficking. 

Sue was one of the authors in Shadows and Light: Theory, Research and Practice in Transpersonal Psychology edited by Kaklaukas, Clements, Hocoy and Hoffman (2019). Her chapter, “A Transpersonal Approach to Service-Learning: A Call to Right Action,” is a reflection on her Cambodian work. She grew up in Kentucky and always identified with her southern girl roots. She had a sweet drawl and was a tireless champion of diversity education, of personal growth, and learning to be a better person. For many years she and her students held 48 hour art events to raise money for the Cambodian trips or for other causes. Students would create matchbox artworks and sell them at auction parties they would host, of which many are owned & treasured by RMHCPA secretary & Sue’s dear friend, Carla Clements. 

Sue’s Art

As wonderful and laudable as her accomplishments are, what was most important about Sue is her kind heart, gentle spirit, and fierce commitment to living from her authentic core.  It was always Sue who volunteered to host gatherings at her beautiful home or take on the responsibility for creating a remembrance or celebration. She would provide art supplies (such as a basket and strips of cloth) that she would pass around the group circle, inviting everyone to tie some love or memory into the basket that would then become a gift to that person. She treated her students to magic and ritual as a way of initiation, both in and out of the program. Sue’s life was challenging these last few years, having lost both her mother and sister. The death of her son, Jayce, this past fall was devastating for her. She has been sharing the process of her grief on Facebook these few months–her writing and her art and it has been a gift to those who have witnessed her journey.

Sue’s work, influence and love live on in the spaces she created, such as Crowd Collective, a co-work studio, community workspace and small gallery. Sue is survived by her husband Jay, daughter Emma, daughter in law Janae, grand babies Zane & Ezra and the rest of the family she leaves behind. 

Sue’s Art

Sue was part of the Crowd Collective. More information can be found at https://thecrowdboulder.com/gallery.

CE WORKSHOP: Using Poetry to Facilitate Healing and Growth Workshop, Friday, February 28, 2020

RMHCPA will be offering a a workshop on Using Poetry to Facilitate Healing and Growth on Friday, February 28, 2020, in Colorado Springs. The workshop will be followed by a book release celebration for A Walk with Nature: Poetic Encounters that Nourish the Soul (Poetry, Healing, and Growth Series) edited by Michael Moats, Derrick Sebree, Jr., Gina Subia Belton, and Louis Hoffman. All nine books from the Poetry, Healing, and Growth series will be available for purchase at the event. For more information, visit the event page at: https://rmhcpa.org/using-poetry-to-facilitate-healing-and-growth-workshop/