Jeanne Denney
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Transpersonal Counseling

What is transpersonal psychology? Most people have very little idea when this term is used. The following excerpt is from Wikopedia, which has quite a good survey of the field:

Transpersonal psychology is a school of psychology that studies the transpersonal, self-transcendent or spiritual aspects of the human experience. A short definition from the Journal of Transpersonal Psychology suggests that transpersonal psychology "is concerned with the study of humanity’s highest potential, and with the recognition, understanding, and realization of unitive, spiritual, and transcendent states of consciousness" (Lajoie and Shapiro, 1992:91). Issues considered in transpersonal psychology include spiritual self-development, peak experiences, mystical experiences, systemic trance and other metaphysical experiences of living.

Transpersonal psychologists see the school as a companion to other schools of psychology that include psychoanalysis, behaviorism, and humanistic psychology. Transpersonal psychology attempts to unify modern psychology theory with frameworks from different forms of mysticism. These vary greatly depending on the origin but include religious conversion, altered states of consciousness, trance and other spiritual practices.

Lajoie, D. H. & Shapiro, S. I. (1992). Definitions of transpersonal psychology: The first twenty-three years. Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, Vol. 24.

In sum, transpersonal psychology looks more at human potential, optimal states of being, spiritual states, their healing capacities and how they are accessed than psychological disorder. Finding its ground in the writing of William James, Carl Jung, Abraham Maslow and Robert Assagioli, more recent principle writers in this field have been: Charles Tart, Ken Wilbur, Jane Houston, Stan Grof, Frances Vaughn, to name a few.

Transpersonal counseling uses the insights from transpersonal theory to help people find their way through personal crisis, periods of intensive growth and change, birth, death, spiritual emergency, as well as more ordinary life. It brings an exploration of spirituality and contemplation to more traditional psychological approaches using a client’s own spiritual constructs and experiences. This exploration is guided with an understanding of the universality of human spiritual life and experience regardless of tradition.