Furlong, D. (2021). Altered states of consciousness within therapeutic modalities: Exploring commonalities of experience. A qualitative grounded theory study [Unpublished Master’s thesis]. Alef Trust & Liverpool John Moores University.

Altered states of consciousness (ASC) occur when there is a deviation from normal levels of psychological functioning. They can be self-induced through meditative practices and therapeutically induced through processes like hypnotic induction. They are determined physiologically when brain rhythms drop from the ‘beta’ rhythm of waking consciousness to the ‘alpha’ and ‘theta’ rhythms of meditation and dreaming sleep. ASC offer a window into the workings of the psyche. This pilot qualitative Grounded Theory study, seeking for commonalities of experience, explores ASC through the lens of four therapeutic modalities, namely hypnotherapy, past-life regression, voice dialogue and soul-centred healing. The research findings are based on interviews with three individuals (a trainer, a practitioner and a client) from each of these modalities, totalling twelve interviews. The commonality themes of this research indicated a conviction in an element of human consciousness, the core-self or the soul, which transcends death and holds memories from perceived past lives. These experiences were seen as part of a journey of individuation to higher states of consciousness within an apparent spiritual realm. The multiplicity of the different inner world elements was also recognised, containing various characters sometimes known as sub-personalities, ego-states or simply ‘parts’.

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