Transpersonal psychology, also known as transpersonal counselling, was developed by American psychologist, Abraham Maslow in the 1960s. The term 'transpersonal' means 'beyond the personal', and this reflects the core aim of the therapy - to explore human growth and help people to discover a deep and more enduring essential self that exists beyond the conditioned ego.
The methodology behind this therapeutic process is a combination of spiritual traditions from around the world, which are integrated with elements of contemporary psychology. This framework can help a wide range of individuals - including groups of people such as families and work colleagues.
Those who undergo transpersonal psychology are expected to gain a complete understanding of themselves, their capacities, and their relationships, and will leave equipped with the skills to help them deal with these beyond therapy.
What is transpersonal psychology?
Transpersonal psychology is a humanistic approach to therapy which values wholeness. The essential self is a combination of the transpersonal, self-transcendent and spiritual aspects of human experience. All of life's experiences are considered valuable and growth enhancing, and every individual is treated according to their innate striving toward a higher reality. Ultimately, in transpersonal psychology healing and growth is approached through recognition of the centrality of self.
Transpersonal psychology does not view human personality as limited, instead, it sees certain character traits and attributes as a mask of our true essence. So, therapists who subscribe to transpersonal psychology believe that human growth begins with people who are hindered from reaching their potential, for instance, those suffering from a psychological disorder.
Our beings are merely the shell that transports our souls through life and, therefore, who we are consciously is only a window to our transpersonal selves. This is why transpersonal psychology addresses, equally, all aspects of our being (spiritual, social, intellectual, emotional, physical and creative) to help us heal and grow. By enhancing all our inner capacities we can become powerful vessels for long-term change.
If you want to make real changes to yourself, I think it is essential to connect with your true self. Who are you really underneath all the difficulties that you face? What are you learning? What qualities are you developing or need to develop? By connecting more with that core part of yourself you can have access to a part that can transcend the difficulties that you may identify with.
Outcomes of transpersonal psychology include an enhanced spiritual connection, greater concern for others, and appreciation of life. These benefits extend to more specific areas of growth and healing depending on the variation of techniques used in therapy.
Whilst yoga and body-work can help to relieve stress, improve mental functioning and balance mental, emotional and physical energies, breathing practices can stimulate calm and initiate an altered state of consciousness. In addition, meditation and guided visualisation can help clients to establish inner peace, whilst hypnotherapy and inner child work can build a positive life outlook and improve self-confidence.