TRANSPERSONAL PSYCHOTHERAPY AND COUNSELLING
MSc Course Module
In this course we explore transpersonal approaches in therapy, including what distinguishes them from non-transpersonal approaches. The module therefore engages with the extent to which both experience and outlook are necessary to defining the aim of psychotherapy as transpersonally orientated or otherwise.
Approaches to all psychotherapy involve both experience and frameworks for interpreting and making meaningful sense of that experience. As such, it is not solely the type of experience that defines an approach as spiritually/transpersonally orientated. Hence, depending on perspective, the transpersonal, ‘bigger than personal’, dimension can be seen as a ‘resource’ for serving individualistic and egocentric purposes. This is, however, akin to the purposes of non-transpersonal psychotherapies. The transpersonal application of psychotherapy, on the other hand, focuses on discerning one’s place and purpose in the ‘bigger than personal’, in service to it. It can be seen as a way of exploring or discovering one’s ‘Calling’, of discerning the sense we have of our place and purpose, in our personal bodies, and in a bigger trans-personal context. As such, it offers the possibility of discovering our wholeness and interconnectedness in a way that contributes to the conscious evolution of the human species and planet Earth.
It can be seen as a contemporary equivalent of opportunities that have (and still are) offered in all spiritual-religious traditions. Flavours and influences of diverse traditions can be found within it whilst it remains neutral with respect to any of them in particular.
Early pioneers of transpersonal counselling and psychotherapy include Carl Jung (although he did not use the term) and Roberto Assagioli. More recent developments include the Process Oriented Psychology approach of Arnold and Amy Mindell. Yet other approaches are based on techniques such as Holotropic Breathing and binaural beats. There has also been a revival into the research of the use of psychedelics such as psilocybin in a therapeutic setting; and there is an expansion in the use of what is called ‘plant medicine’ (such as ayahuasca) to explore different dimensions of consciousness. As with other types of experience, experience stimulated by such techniques and substances can be understood and applied to egocentric as well as transpersonal purposes, depending on outlook and priorities of the experiencer.
This option course will also look at how therapeutic approaches to transpersonal self-exploration incorporate the need for grounding in psycho-emotional understanding of the person as a foundation for further spiritual deepening in a way that helps guard against ‘spiritual bypassing’. This is a term used to describe ways in which spiritual ideas and practices can be, often unconsciously, used as a way of avoiding looking at and processing emotional issues, often generated early in life. Approaches to contemporary spirituality can have a tendency to neglect this dimension of spiritual work, and how important it was considered in many of the older traditions. However, it is clearly important to the process of truly grounding ourselves in our body (physical and emotional), and in our connection with and dependence on the planetary body.
In this course you’ll get an opportunity to: