San Jose Counseling and Psychotherapy
Transpersonal therapies are approaches to psychotherapy related to the field of transpersonal psychology.
Transpersonal psychology has a number of definitions, all of which can be challenging for the lay person to understand.
In terms of a psychotherapy approach transpersonal psychology it is considered to be a branch of psychology, it focuses on the self-transcendent or spiritual aspects of the human experience. These human experiences include exceptional human experiences and transpersonal phenomenon.
The Study of Transpersonal Experiences
Transpersonal experiences are any experiences in which the person’s sense of self extends beyond what is he or she considers normal into a wider arena such as aspects of nature, humankind, or the cosmos.
Based on this premise, the issues addressed in transpersonal psychology include exploration of the self beyond the ego, peak experiences, spiritual self-development, mystical experiences, and other expanded experiences of living.
A definition put forward by Lajoie and Shapiro in a 1992 article in the Journal of Transpersonal Psychology defined transpersonal psychology as “the study of humanity’s highest potential, and with the recognition, understanding, and realization of unitive, spiritual, and transcendent states of consciousness.”
Transpersonal Psychology and Self-Transcendence
Self-transcendence is an experience characterized by a meaningful connection with others and various aspects of the world, such as nature. The “self” which is transcended is self that is comprised of ego and personality.
The “self” contains our self-concepts and the roles we develop through interactions with others. Transpersonal approaches hold that this ego-self is not the same as our true nature and that self-transcendence allows us to access this deeper nature.
The notion of self-transcendence is a key part of psychologist Abraham Maslow’s approach to psychology. As Maslow’s theories developed toward the end of his career, his transpersonal interests caused him to add a sixth level to his “herarchy of needs” model.
Maslow’s sixth level was the need for self-transcendence and peak experiences and occurs in addition to the need for actualization. Maslow noted that the phenomenon of self-transcendence is a defining characteristic of mystical experiences.
Types of Transpersonal Therapies
There are a number of approaches considered to be transpersonal, including depth psychology approaches such the analytical psychology of Carl Jung, the Archetypal psychology of James Hillman the spiritual psychology of Robert Sardello, and psychosynthesis from Roberto Assagioli.
Other major contributors to transpersonal theories include Abraham Maslow, Stanislav Grof, Otto Rank, Timothy Leary, and Ken Wilber.
There is a historic connection between the transpersonal and the humanistic approaches to psychology. This is primarily because a number of the humanistic theorists, such as Abraham Maslow, started off within humanistic psychology.
How Transpersonal Therapists Work
Transpersonal approaches are found in a wide variety of fields including counseling psychology, psychiatry, sociology, theology, anthropology, and even financial planning.
Transpersonal therapies are a a part of many approaches to psychotherapy, especially Jungian and archetypal psychology.
The therapist who takes a transpersonal approach believes that human needs are driven by aggression and sex and propel a person toward a state of wholeness and connectedness to and with a divine source.