Just WHAT IS Transpersonal Psychology?
Just What IS Transpersonal Psychology? Two plus years ago, I left the world of business accounting and finance and became a full time student at Sofia University. Up until shortly before I started at Sofia, the university was known as The Institute of Transpersonal Psychology. I have to admit I had never heard of Transpersonal Psychology until I started my education at Sofia. One of the required classes during my first year was an inquiry into Transpersonal Psychology, where we read what seemed like a hundred different definitions of what Transpersonal Psychology is. I ended up finding my favorite one on Wikipedia:
Transpersonal psychology is a sub-field or "school" of psychology that integrates the spiritual and transcendent aspects of the human experience with the framework of modern psychology. It is also possible to define it as a "spiritual psychology". The transpersonal is defined as "experiences in which the sense of identity or self extends beyond (trans) the individual or personal to encompass wider aspects of humankind, life, psyche or cosmos". It has also been defined as "development beyond conventional, personal or individual levels". Issues considered in transpersonal psychology include spiritual self-development, self beyond the ego, peak experiences, mystical experiences, systemic trance, spiritual crises, spiritual evolution, religious conversion, altered states of consciousness, spiritual practices, and other sublime and/or unusually expanded experiences of living. The discipline attempts to describe and integrate spiritual experience within modern psychological theory and to formulate new theory to encompass such experience. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transpersonal_psychology 10:00am pst 6/11/16
What I love about Transpersonal Psychology is the acceptance of the fact that we are spiritual beings, and that in order to truly find our healthy mental and emotional center we need to discover our spiritual center and incorporate spiritual practice into our life. And what is REALLY interesting to me is that we needed a school of psychology to tell us what has been known to almost all cultures prior to the 20th century!
I am not knowledgeable enough to understand all of the forces that led our society away from the core knowing that we are first and foremost spiritual beings and that true wellness lies along that path. I think we know many of those forces, and I don’t want to dwell on them here. What I do think is worth dwelling on is the fact that we are blessed because we are able to choose our perfect path of spiritual, mental and emotional health. The study of Transpersonal Psychology exposed me to many different spiritual paths and practices. I found immense value and spiritual depth in each of them. And I also saw the similarity of the spiritual traditions. There is so much more similarity than difference.
My understanding of Transpersonal Psychology deeply informs my practice of coaching women through transition. I incorporate a number of different modalities to support women as they embrace the lessons that are available in transition, to incorporate those lessons into their vision of what is possible in the next phase of their lives and finally manifest that vision by taking concrete actions. The modalities of discussion, creative expression, yoga, meditation, and time in nature are all avenues that assist a woman in gaining deeper understanding and awareness of what her deepest desires and yearnings are for the next phase in her life. In my experience these desires and yearnings often include spiritual awakening or re-awakening. Perhaps it is the modalities, or perhaps it is the openness of the women who are interested or open to intentionally looking at what is next for them. Whichever it is, my belief in the definition of health provided by Transpersonal Psychology is reaffirmed each time. We are spiritual beings, and in order to be healthy we need to include spiritual awareness and practice in our life.
1. Walsh, R. & Vaughan, F. "On transpersonal definitions". Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, 25 (2) 125-182, 1993
2. Scotton, Bruce W. "Introduction and Definition of Transpersonal Psychiatry". In Scotton, Bruce W., Chinen, Allan B. and Battista, John R., Eds. (1996) Textbook of Transpersonal Psychiatry and Psychology. New York: Basic Books
3. Miller, John J. "Book review: Textbook of Transpersonal Psychiatry and Psychology." Psychiatric Services April 01, 1998
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5. Matthews, Charles O. "Psychotherapy and Spirit (Book)". Counseling & Values. Oct99, Vol. 44 Issue 1, p75. 3p.
6.Turner, Robert P.; Lukoff, David; Barnhouse, Ruth Tiffany & Lu Francis G. "Religious or spiritual problem. A culturally sensitive diagnostic category in the DSM-IV". Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, Jul;183(7):435-44, 1995
7. Lukoff, David, Lu, Francis G. & Turner, Robert P. Diagnosis. A clinical approach to religious and spiritual problems. In Scotton, Bruce W., Chinen, Allan B. and Battista, John R., Eds. (1996) Textbook of Transpersonal Psychiatry and Psychology. New York: Basic Books