Henk, who is quoted above, said:. When I was 20, I was on a boat at night and all around in the water were bioluminescent plankton. It was so beautiful; I became very emotional and cried. I wish my girlfriend had been there so I could have shared such a deeply moving experience with someone. I had a deep connection while swimming in a lake in Finland under the stars. There were many experiences like this while I was recently traveling in Norway.
Biyu related her experience of this type of connection when she was a child playing and sharing time with her mother. Raised Roman Catholic, Paulo insisted that he was an atheist, something which he emphasized a number of times during his meetings over the course of two years. However, he responded to the second question by relating a strong mystical experience he had had at the age of ten:.
I was in the church at school during prayer time. I was holding my hands out and felt energy and light stream into them. Similarly, despite having peak experiences as a child, Liliana talked about her choice to stop believing in God, after which time she no longer experienced superconscious material:.
When I was younger, around 11 or 12, I had many [peak experiences], but then I took a pragmatic decision. And I have to be consistent with that decision. I was beginning to become interested in philosophy and, of course, my own sexuality was starting to emerge. So I choose not to believe. After a number of sessions, three of the eleven clients showed evidence of a more active spiritual life. All three had initially described themselves as atheists. More in touch with me. I now have a small space on the balcony of my house that I call my temple with my painting stuff. I already see many changes inside me.
I am much more connected to myself. The second testimony comes from Liliana, who related her choice as a preteen to not believe in God. Before her final session, at the request of the counselor, Liliana made a drawing of her inner life see Fig. In this drawing, Liliana depicted the subpersonalities she had learned to coordinate and integrate i.
Remarkably, at the center of the drawing she also depicted herself in a meditative state next to a lit candle. Not in a religious sense, but in a spiritual one. Just connect to God.
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Just connect to me. To myself.
And I do this more now. It gives me a sense of peace. The final example comes from the client Julia, who, for the first time in her life, made plans to attend a two-week retreat at a monastery in order to actively pursue her personal and spiritual growth. Although not all the clients spoke about their newly activated spiritual lives, the following testimonies clearly indicate that personal psychosynthesis occurred:.
The ongoing therapy was very helpful to my personal growth. Our sessions helped me to grow personally far beyond what I could have predicted. What I have done. It has been a process of understanding, acceptance, and management of different aspects of myself. This is a lifelong journey that I think everyone should begin.
The counseling helped me immensely, not only in dealing with such a process but also in growing as a person and as a researcher. And the change is deep inside me. I know in the future that I will also make a better husband and father. You gave me the tools and techniques to make real choices. And no one can ever take these things away from me. Eight of the eleven clients responded to the questionnaire after the second email was sent. Of the eight respondents, two clients did not know the counselor was a psychosynthesis counselor and one only knew this after the first session.
Five clients did not know that psychosynthesis was a spiritual approach. Examples include the following feedback from Julia and Liliana, who were two of the three clients who demonstrated spiritual growth:. During our very first session, the counselor asked me about my relationship to God. If I felt that she was imposing her values and not those of her profession , I would have stopped attending sessions with her. Maybe [the counselor] sensed that I am not into religion and spirituality, to put it bluntly ; and I am very grateful for her sensitivity and for the fact that, even during moments when spirituality or God could have been mentioned such as during meditation or for self-understanding , I never felt that I was being invited or pushed towards spirituality, religion, Christianity, or God.
This article attempts to offer psychosynthesis concepts and its model of the human psyche as a foundational bridge between psychological and spiritual conceptions of human nature. By recognizing the existence of a higher consciousness within all human beings, psychosynthesis is an open system that defines the human being as a psychological and spiritual being.
Nondogmatic and universal in its approach and conceptual understanding of human nature, the orientation of psychosynthesis therapy is based on our having an inherent need to grow, personally and spiritually, and supports this positive evolutionary process Haronian Results in this study included testimonies from clients who expressed not only their experience of personal growth but, in some cases, newly gained spiritual awareness and their longing to continue to develop this dimension of their lives.
Perhaps of particular interest to the pastoral psychologist is that the three clients who felt an inner need to further explore and develop their spirituality identified themselves as atheists. This activation of spirituality in self-identified atheists can lead to the assumption that, for those psychologists working with faith-based clients, psychosynthesis can provide a powerful platform from which to guide them towards spiritual growth.
According to Helminiak , we are in need of an explanatory science of spirituality that explores the structures, mechanisms, or processes of spiritual integration and growth. He actually calls for a type of equation to encapsulate spirituality the same way a Pythagorean theorem provides an equation for a perfect right triangle.
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Fundamental to his model is the I—Self connection—the ultimate alignment of the will and consciousness of the personal self with the will and consciousness of the Self, the ideal reality towards which we all strive as human beings. For Christians, this perfect I—Self connection is manifested in Jesus, who is the highest and fullest embodiment of what is both essentially human and divine, and as such, Jesus represents the perfect model of personal and spiritual psychosynthesis.
Also fundamental to Christian faith, the idea of relationship is paramount to the process and outcome of full personal and spiritual psychosynthesis. Now remain in my love. This is my command: Love one another. This muddle derives from the confusion created by ambiguous terminology such as spirituality, God, self-transcendence, and relationship to God; how to assess and measure such terms; and where to place such constructs in the science of psychology.
Assagioli asserts that his model clearly shows this paradox with the positioning of the Self both outside and inside the interior psyche. He further explains:. It may appear to be a contradiction. But it is universal in that it is not limited within or by our transient personality, nor does it involve the continuous influx of our psyche or conflicts, or the combination of various energies and activities of our body, feelings, or mind.
This understanding expresses the dual nature of the Self. Like God born as Jesus in human form, the Self is both universal and individual at one and the same time. As human beings, we too share His image also as a pale reflection! This figure, of course, is a sketch representing her inner life, but it is interesting to note how universal this figure appears when compared to the other figures in her drawing. Outside the context of the drawing, this central figure could be male or female, old or young, Western or Eastern.
This universal yet individual nature of the Self is also represented in the client sample presented in this article, which included nine nationalities across four continents and encompassed a wide range of cultural identities, values, and belief systems. In addition, all were better able to more freely and consciously choose and execute their will and to interact with others in constructive and positive relations.
The three clients who experienced spiritual psychosynthesis were also similar in their pursuit of activities such as meditation, prayer, and a search for meaning in their lives. Such an open attitude allows for imaginative insights, intuitive understandings, and the emergence of emotions and thoughts that might have been previously repressed or unrecognized, as well as bodily sensations that can unveil vital information about the prevailing issue to both the therapist and the client.
As a Christian, I personally imagined and experienced this space left open for the Holy Spirit to enter and lead us forward in healing, authenticity, and love.
This article has some limitations that need to be addressed. First and foremost, it does not provide a hermeneutic discussion of a possible integration of psychology and spirituality within the psychosynthesis context nor of an integration of psychosynthesis and the Christian faith. In this article, I have limited myself to suggesting the convergence of the latter two perspectives; future studies should address this issue extensively.
Nevertheless, not only does psychosynthesis resolve the tensions between Freudian psychoanalysis and religion, but its adherents specifically contend that spiritual drives are as real and fundamental as sexual and combative drives. These concepts were further supported by the qualitative data of the testimonies of clients who received psychosynthesis counseling. However, the small client sample, although culturally and demographically diverse, makes it difficult to draw any general conclusions.
Future research in this area should try to increase the number of participants. The number of sessions for each client also varied widely 10—55 , which might have influenced the psychosynthesis process. However, the data does demonstrate that psychosynthesis counseling positively influenced the personal growth of all clients and the spiritual growth of three of the clients. Another limitation is the qualitative research method used in this study. There is a long debate in the literature on whether or not qualitative research can or cannot indicate causal relationship see Maxwell a.
Nevertheless, in line with the realist position Maxwell b especially when it comes to the process of giving meaning to certain events as psychosynthesis does , cause-effect relationships can be drawn. Future research should, however, investigate the effectiveness of psychosynthesis counseling in spiritual growth by collecting empirical data and using well-established tests that measure spiritual awareness, religious participation, and commitment to a religious belief system, such as the Revised Religious Life Inventory RLI-R; Hill et al.
The qualitative methodology of this study, however, did allow for intimate conversations with clients over many months and brought depth and breadth to the analysis that quantitative analyses alone cannot provide. In addition, the qualitative approach in this study was especially conducive for conducting research into spiritual identity and personal and spiritual psychosynthesis, as this approach matches the methodology of interpretative phenomenological analysis IPA. Finally, the qualitative approach to this study is perhaps more aligned with the approach taken by pastoral psychologists.
Also, in this study, clients were unaware and not informed of psychosynthesis concepts and the psychosynthesis model of the human personality during their time in therapy. Pastoral psychologists have had an even greater challenge in their attempt to develop a psychological understand of spirituality within a scientific framework. Ultimately, psychosynthesis embodies the idea that personal and spiritual growth entails a synthesis of the ineffable mysteries of the invisible with the reason and intellect of the visible.
This article suggests that psychosynthesis provides a bridge between psychology and spirituality, indicating new ways to wisely hold the blade of logic so that, instead of wounding, it may discern what is the truth, the authentic, the sublime, and the higher potential held in all of life.
The author would like to thank all the clients whose testimonies and drawings appear in this article. Also, special thanks to Dr. Barbara C. Kees den Biesen, and Kathy McKay for their suggestions for improving this manuscript. National Center for Biotechnology Information , U. Pastoral Psychology. Pastoral Psychol. Published online Jan Catherine Ann Lombard 1, 2. Author information Copyright and License information Disclaimer.
Corresponding author. Abstract Pastoral psychologists have long tried to establish a working model that encompasses the seemingly conflicting disciplines of science and religion. An overview of psychosynthesis psychology Psychosynthesis psychology was developed by Roberto Assagioli — , who was a medical doctor, contemporary of Freud and Jung, and the first psychoanalyst in Italy.
Open in a separate window. Assagioli repeatedly stated that his principles and methods were based on solid personal experience Haronian , and he explained that transpersonal experiences are similar to experiencing: a color, sound or feeling. Psychosynthesis view of spirituality As previously mentioned, one of the distinguishing concepts of psychosynthesis is that the Self and superconscious relate to the higher urges within human beings that allow them to develop their personality at different levels, including, but not necessarily, a spiritual one.
Personal psychosynthesis and spiritual psychosynthesis As stated earlier, the aim of psychosynthesis is to establish the I—Self connection, and this process can develop along two lines: personal psychosynthesis and transpersonal or spiritual psychosynthesis. Will as energy In psychosynthesis, the will does not correspond to the Victorian idea as something stern and oppressive. Stages of an act of will In addition, Assagioli states that any act of will has six sequential stages: purpose, deliberation, choice, affirmation, planning, and execution.
Working in right relations Throughout psychosynthesis, the essential dynamic of relationship permeates. Psychosynthesis techniques Psychosynthesis counseling techniques include guided visualization, daily self-reflection, role-playing, ideal models, symbolic images, storytelling, free-drawing, and dream work. The self-identification exercise The self-identification exercise, also referred to as the disidentification exercise or the body-feeling-mind meditation, is a fundamental psychosynthesis technique for working with all aspects of the will.
The subpersonality model Psychosynthesis assumes that we all have multiple subpersonalities, such as Mother, Daughter, Teacher, and Leader, that help us to function in the world, mostly without much reflection or conscious choice. Research method The source of the data is psychosynthesis counseling work conducted in the Netherlands from October to November Table 1 Participant details. Psychosynthesis clinical methodology Clients met the counselor from 10 to 55 times, two to four times per month, with each session lasting one hour.
Research ethics It is important to note that the researcher and the counselor as well as the author are the same person in this study. Results The following sections describe the results found in this study. Of the eight others, the following testimony was a typical response: I would call myself an atheist. Henk, who is quoted above, said: When I was 20, I was on a boat at night and all around in the water were bioluminescent plankton.
However, he responded to the second question by relating a strong mystical experience he had had at the age of ten: I was in the church at school during prayer time. Similarly, despite having peak experiences as a child, Liliana talked about her choice to stop believing in God, after which time she no longer experienced superconscious material: When I was younger, around 11 or 12, I had many [peak experiences], but then I took a pragmatic decision. Biyu Our sessions helped me to grow personally far beyond what I could have predicted. Maria What I have done. Questionnaire results Eight of the eleven clients responded to the questionnaire after the second email was sent.
Julia During our very first session, the counselor asked me about my relationship to God. Discussion This article attempts to offer psychosynthesis concepts and its model of the human psyche as a foundational bridge between psychological and spiritual conceptions of human nature.
Psychosynthesis as a model for spiritual psychology According to Helminiak , we are in need of an explanatory science of spirituality that explores the structures, mechanisms, or processes of spiritual integration and growth. He further explains: It may appear to be a contradiction. Limitations and future research This article has some limitations that need to be addressed.
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Acknowledgements The author would like to thank all the clients whose testimonies and drawings appear in this article. References Assagioli, R. Psicosintesi e parapsicologia [Psychosynthesis and parapsychology]. Psicoterapia Umanistica, N. Assagioli R. Transpersonal development: The dimension beyond psychosynthesis.
London: The Aquarian Press; Psychosynthesis: A collection of basic writings. Amherst: The Synthesis Center; The act of will. Istituto di Psicosintesi, Florence, Italy. Accessed 30 May Brottman M. Phantoms of the clinic. London: Karnac Books; Face to face: Carl Gustav Jung. Identity and personal freedom. In Fundamentals of psychosynthesis. London: Institute of Psychosynthesis; The use of mental imagery in psychosynthesis. In Core principles in psychosynthesis psychology Vol.
London: Institute of Psychosynthesis. Evans J. What guides the guide? In: Evans J, editor. Soul making at work. Applying psychosynthesis to work-based projects. What we may be. The theory: Subpersonalities. Psychosynthesis workbook. Psychosynthesis: A psychology of the spirit. Listening to the claims of experience: Psychology and the question of transcendence.
Civilization and its discontents J. Strachey, Trans. New York: Norton.
Hardy J. A psychology with a soul. Confounding the divine and the spiritual: Challenges to a psychology of spirituality. The development of the revised religious life inventory RLI-R by exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis. Personality and Individual Differences. The varieties of religious experience. New York: Modern Library; Spirituality in older adults: A cross-cultural and interfaith perspective. The practice of psychotherapy R.
Hull, Trans. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Jung, C. The portable Jung. Campbell Ed. New York: Penguin Books. Jung CG. Aion: Researches into the phenomenology of the self. Collected works of C. Princeton: Princeton University Press; Review of General Psychology. Self psychology and end of life pastoral care. The problem of pain. San Francisco: Harper; Coping with anxiety and rebuilding identity: A psychosynthesis approach to culture shock.
Counselling Psychology Quarterly. Opening the door to creativity: A psychosynthesis approach. Journal of Humanistic Psychology. Prepublished June. Long-term analytic group psychotherapy with outpatients: Evaluation of process and change unpublished doctoral dissertation Oslo: University of Oslo; Assessment of humanistic, transpersonal, and spiritual constructs: State of the science. As clients come to disidentify from beliefs which they thought were part of them or which they took for granted, they are able to discard or transcend limiting views and thereby heal psychological splits.
The purpose of this course is help you recognise when spiritual emergence is occurring for a client. For more information, visit www. AIPC specialises in providing high quality counselling and community services courses, with a particular focus on highly supported external education. AIPC is the largest provider of counselling courses in the Australia, with over 27 years specialist experience. Learn more: www. Responsibility-taking While normal non-transpersonally-oriented counselling certainly attempts to move clients in the direction of taking responsibility for themselves, transpersonal therapy makes no bones about it: we are all responsible for what we have created in our lives and in our relationships.
Meeting needs Along with taking responsibility, the transformed individual has mostly achieved the capacity to meet physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual needs appropriately in accordance with his or her individual preferences and pre-disposition. The spiritual life integral to full humanness Contrary to the general stance of other counselling modalities, which leave up to the client whether to engage in spiritual pursuits, transpersonal therapy takes as a basic assumption that a fully human life includes the spiritual dimension.
References Maslow, A. Toward a psychology of being. Princeton: Van Nostrand. Vaughan, F.
Transpersonal psychotherapy: context, content and process. The Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, 11 2 , Walsh, R. On transpersonal definitions. Journal of Transpersonal Psychology. Subscribe to our newsletter. Keyword search. About Us AIPC specialises in providing high quality counselling and community services courses, with a particular focus on highly supported external education.
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