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Vancouver | Associate Professor | Clinical Psychology (Psy.D.)

Derrick Klaassen, Ph.D., R.Psych.



In his book I and Thou (1923), German-Jewish philosopher and contemplative, Martin Buber, claimed that human beings become themselves – become who they truly are – through open and authentic encounters with other persons. As a professor, I see my work as accompanying students and trainees on this journey, with the aim of facilitating such encounters both in and outside of the classroom. I seek to do so in a manner that is compassionate and empathic, and that aims to embody acceptance, understanding, and justice in a context of becoming a professional psychologist.

I am deeply grateful that I have had the opportunity to teach and mentor students at different post-secondary institutions and training programs since 2009. My approach to teaching has been influenced by my training in existential-phenomenological psychology and psychotherapy. I have come to understand education as essentially transformational. Certainly, teaching also involves encountering new ideas and information, but this in and of itself is insufficient for the formation of compassionate and professional psychologists. Rather, education is about the engagement of the whole person with their discipline. I seek to model this way of being in the ways in which I engage with students, and likewise endeavour to be open to being shaped by my encounters with students and colleagues.

My research interests have been shaped by my background in existential-phenomenological psychology, an approach that I see as well aligned with Adlerian values around community engagement and social justice. I am keen to supervise students who are interested in research that is oriented towards understanding existential issues that emerge in psychotherapy and beyond (e.g., acceptance of myself and my limitations, emotional attunement and closeness, grief and loss, identity development, loneliness and alienation, existential crises and meaninglessness, etc.). The Existential Research Lab – a space shared with Dr. Janelle Kwee – is a place in which we seek to nurture community oriented and applied research, frequently employing phenomenological, voice oriented and other qualitative research methods. Examples of past projects that I have supervised include:

  • Interpersonal/personal dimensions of shame
  • Adolescent grief following the loss of a friend to suicide
  • The lived experience of death-related regret
  • Interpersonal and communal practices of grief/mourning
  • Finding meaning after a traumatic-brain injury
  • The embodied experience of meaning for women with chronic pain
  • Lived experience of moral injury in intimate relationships; moral injury for nurses working with families after medical assistance in dying

Please click here for a copy of my CV.



  • Psychotherapy Training, Existential Analysis, Society for Logotherapy & Existential Analysis
  • Ph.D., Counselling Psychology, The University of British Columbia
  • M.A. Counselling Psychology, Trinity Western University
  • B. A. Psychology, Trinity Western University
Professional Background

Current Positions

  • Associate Professor, Clinical Psychology, Adler University
  • Psychologist, Limina Psychology
  • Board Member & Chair, Clinical Trainer, Existential Analysis Society of Canada

Former Positions

  • Assistant & Associate Professor, Counselling Psychology Program, Trinity Western University, 2009 – 2023
  • Psychologist, Altus Psychological Services, 2019 – 2021
  • Psychologist, Chuck Jung Associates, 2009 – 2019

Professional Memberships

  • Member, Canadian Counselling & Psychotherapy Association, 2003 – 2021
  • Full Member, Canadian Psychological Association 2015 – present
  • Member, Existential Analysis Society of Canada, 2011 – present
  • Member, International Society for Logotherapy and Existential Analysis, 2005 – present

Select Awards and Recognition

  • 2012 Trinity Western University, SSHRC Institutional Grant (Parental Grieving as a Spiritual and Relational Process)
  • 2012 Trinity Western University, Research Grant (Co-Applicant with Marvin McDonald, Counselling Psychology Research Conference)
  • 2007-2009 Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research – Research Trainee Award (Senior Graduate Studentship, Population Health)
  • 2005-2008 Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada – Canada Graduate Scholarship Doctoral Scholarship

Areas of Expertise

  • Existential psychology and psychotherapy
  • Clinical supervision and psychotherapy training
  • Professional ethics
  • Research methods, especially phenomenology
  • Rehabilitation psychology, especially chronic pain and traumatic brain injury recovery
Select Publications

Select Publications

  • Klaassen, D. W., Kwee, J. L., & Launeanu, M. (2021). Existential Analysis (EA) in Canada: Reflections from psychotherapeutic practice, training, and research. Existenzanalyse, 38(1), 122-130
  • Klaassen, D. W. (2020). Accompanying clients recovering from traumatic brain injuries: An existential-analytical approach. Existenzanalyse, 37(1), 4-15
  • Klaassen, D. W. (2019). The question of meaning in clinical practice: Viktor Frankl’s contribution to psychotherapy. BC Psychologist, 8(2), 14-17
  • Längle, A., & Klaassen, D. W. (2019). Phenomenology and depth in existential psychotherapy. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 1-12
  • Längle, S., & Klaassen, D. W. (2019). Logotherapy and Existential Analysis: Method and Practice. In E. van Deurzen (Ed.), The Wiley World Handbook of Existential Therapy. London, United Kingdom: Wiley-Blackwell
  • Klaassen, D. W., Young, R., & James, S. (2015). The spiritual lives of bereaved parents. Canadian Journal of Counselling and Psychotherapy, 49, 79-95
Select Presentations

Select Presentations

  • Klaassen, D. W., & Kwee, J. L. (2023). Existential supervision in clinical practice. Workshop for the Annual Convention of the Canadian Psychological Association, June 25
  • Kwee, J. L., & Klaassen, D. W. (2023). All actual life is encounter: An existential-analytical therapy group. Workshop for the Third World Congress of Existential Therapy, May 5
  • Yang, A., & Klaassen, D. W. (2022). “I could have”: The lived experience of bereavement-related regret of relational inaction. Poster for the Annual Convention of the Canadian Psychological Association, June 17
  • Nordin, E., & Klaassen, D. W. (2022). Finding meaning in life after a traumatic brain injury. Poster for the Annual Convention of the Canadian Psychological Association, June 17
  • Längle, A., & Klaassen, D. W. (2021). Facing life’s challenges: A meaningful answer to them. Keynote address for the British Columbia Association of Clinical Counsellors, Counselling in a Changing World conference, June 17
  • Klaassen, D. W. (2019). When life loses its meaning: A logotherapeutic-existential approach to therapy. Webinar Event for Gesellschaft fuer Logotherapie und Existenzanalyse, United Kingdom. July 4
  • Klaassen, D. W. (2019). Searching for meaning: An existential-analytical perspective. In R. Curtis (chair), Meaning in life: An area of integration. Paper presented at the XXXV Annual Meeting of the Society for the Exploration of Integration in Psychotherapy, Lisbon, Portugal, June 8

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