What is transpersonal psychology?
Posted by Nick Niesen on October 26th, 2010
Transpersonal psychology is an integration of psychology and spirituality. It includes all realms of being human, including realms that go beyond words and perceptions. It includes the awareness that we are spiritual beings living in physical bodies. When salt and water are mixed the salt is not observable and no longer takes up space but can be tasted as part of the water. Such is the transpersonal experience, which expands beyond the boundaries and limitations of time and space. Transpersonal psychology recognizes the importance of our individual personalities, but it also includes mystical realms of experience which extend outside the limitations of intellectual understanding and material existence. Transpersonal psychology does not oppose or contradict other models of psychology. The transpersonal orientation is inclusive. It builds and expands upon traditional models for a more holistic realization of the human condition.
When I look at people in our culture I am struck by what appears to be deep discontent and lack of peacefulness. There is an experience of suffering that goes with not living authentically in one?s truth. I believe the constant searching to meet needs that never seem to be satisfied has been displaced onto money, social status, and material gains. Viewing psychotherapy from a spiritual perspective may facilitate the fulfillment of inner needs, which have been invalidated in our culture. According to the Gospel of St Thomas, Jesus said, The Kingdom of God is inside you, and it is outside of you. When you come to know yourselves, then you become known, and you will realise that it is you who are the children of the living Father. But if you will not know yourselves, then you will dwell in poverty, and it is you who are that poverty. (in Hanh, 1995, p. xxiii)
Many people deemed successful by the standards of Western culture find themselves deeply dissatisfied and unhappy despite material and social success. Our society reacts negatively to the slightest sign of ?unhappiness? or depression, labeling it as something ?wrong?. This cultural bias invalidates the spiritual seeking that often underlies these symptoms. From the transpersonal perspective, questioning and reflecting on unhappiness and depression may be the beginnings of a more expanded and holistic existence. The search for meaning beyond the material world opens the possibility to live in a new and more deeply satisfying way.
Transpersonal counselling focuses on present moment awareness and how experience is organized with less emphasis on intellectual discussion. There is a difference between directly experiencing something and intellectualizing about it. The transpersonal therapist may incorporate techniques such as journal writing and expressive arts, as well as cognitive behavioral techniques such as guided imagery and relaxation to access deeper meanings and an experiential rather than verbal understanding of the self. Transpersonal counselling focuses on inner development and relationship rather than emphasizing external activities and material concerns.
The transpersonal approach includes all aspects of being human and sees mind, body, and spirit as parts of an integrated whole. Rather than focusing on reducing symptoms, the goal of transpersonal therapy is to detach from identification with roles and behaviors and realize one?s true identity. There is less focus on problem solving and more on developing and opening inner resources and the experience of a unique authentic beingness.
The transpersonal vision recognizes that letting go of the past allows us to live more fully in the present and ultimately facilitates access to deeper levels of wisdom, creativity, and potentiality.
Today like every other day
Hanh, T. N. (1995). Living Buddha, living Christ. New York: Riverhead Books.
Teasdale, W. (2001). The mystic heart: Discovering a universal spirituality in the world?s
Vaughan, F. (1993). Healing and wholeness: Transpersonal psychotherapy. In R. Walsh
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About the AuthorNick Niesen
Joined: April 29th, 2015
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