Transpersonal Therapy: History, Techniques, And How It Helps
There’s so much to the human psyche that we’re unaware of still. We’ve understood that our mind and body are connected but have we truly understood the extent of that connection? Well, there’s one theory that can help us understand this better – Transpersonal psychology.
Transpersonal psychology states that our beliefs, purpose, values, and even our surroundings play a huge role in our emotional, mental, and physical wellness. This psychology suggests that there is more than just our behaviors that influence us.
Eventually, this theory gave rise to transpersonal therapy – a practice that integrates traditional therapy techniques with holistic techniques. So not only this therapy focuses on improving the mind-body connection, but also on spiritual aspects.
Where other therapy approaches focus on reframing negative thinking or a distressed mind, transpersonal therapy focuses directly on the positive aspects of your life such as skills that should be encouraged or celebrated, instead of things that need to change.
Below, let’s take an inside look at how transpersonal therapy works, the benefits of this therapy, and what you can expect in a transpersonal therapy session.
What Is Transpersonal Psychology?
Transpersonal psychology is a theory that integrates within itself a wide range of aspects that might not include religion but the mind. This theory understands that a human experience is more than just actions and behaviors.
Transpersonal therapy, on the other hand, combines the techniques of Western psychology with philosophy, mysticism, spirituality, and even mindfulness. Instead of focusing on only one school of psychology or idea, transpersonal therapy embraces all ideas such as literature, social theories, music therapy, spiritual rituals, and more.
Transpersonal psychology was first introduced in the 1960s by Abraham Maslow. This theory suggested that human psychology should include all aspects of human psychology when determining or examining mental health, and not just behaviors. Maslow went ahead and included spirituality and feelings in the theory as well.
Transpersonal can be translated as “going beyond the material person” and focusing on spiritual cognition, values, consciousness, and life purpose.
The Elements Of Transpersonal Therapy
Since transpersonal psychology looks at an individual as a whole, there are hardly any specific methods involved. The psychological aspect of this therapy is rooted in ideology and is less about using a particular method of intervention.
Also, under this psychology, the relationship you have with your loved ones (even your therapist) is the foundation. Here, the therapist is an “expert” or a facilitator who is there to help you reflect on your truths and guide you on your self-discovery journey.
Another important element of transpersonal therapy is that there is no judgment and each person involved in the therapy is equal. You and your therapist each have their experiences and none of you are incorrect or correct.
What Can Transpersonal Therapy Help With?
Studies on transpersonal therapy are limited, but there are a handful of studies that might suggest the effectiveness of transpersonal therapy in treating various mental health disorders.
For example, a 2021 study involving cancer patients, found that transpersonal therapy helped in easing anxiety, PTSD, and depression in the patients. Likewise, a 2022 study that involved breast cancer patients suggested the same.
Transpersonal therapy is all about boosting your sense of self and improving your overall well-being by integrating spiritual aspects and similar understandings in your life. Here are some other issues transpersonal therapy can help with;
- Poor self-esteem
- Poor sense of identity
- Relationship stress
- Existential crisis
- Spiritual questioning
- Trauma and PTSD
If you’re seeking a spiritual approach to therapy to help you resolve your issues, then you may go with transpersonal therapy. Within this therapy, you can develop new coping skills and address your issues while gaining insight into your behaviors.
Also, if you’re looking to connect with your spiritual needs, then transpersonal therapy can be a good choice.
Transpersonal Therapy Techniques
When you’re only focusing on your problems, it can be challenging to look past them and see the big picture, right? Transpersonal counseling or therapy can help you look at the big picture while keeping in mind your problems and issues.
This therapy combines Western approaches, Eastern philosophies, cognitive therapy, behaviorism, mysticism, and mindfulness to improve your overall wellness.
Here are some common techniques a transpersonal therapist can use in this therapy;
1. Meditation: Here, you’re required to sit still and focus on your breath work while creating an environment to calm your mind.
2. Mandala Drawing: This is a mindfulness practice that can help you clear your mind and work through past trauma.
3. Guided Imagery: With guided imagery, you can visualize a comfortable space to help you calm when your coping mechanisms fail to work or when you’re too distressed to use the said coping mechanisms.
4. Relaxation Techniques: Here, you’ll be focusing on your breathing, your environment, and the sensations your body is experiencing. These techniques can help you center your mind so that you can fight your stressors and brave the challenges life throws at you.
5. Hypnotherapy: With hypnotherapy, you can guide your mind to a safe space in your mind where you can seek the problems and issues holding you back.
6. Journaling: This technique helps you see the issues and find the ones that need your attention. This is also a great way to get your emotions and feelings out instead of carrying them inside your head all the time.
7. Music Therapy: Music therapy can include listening to music, dancing to music, and even creating pieces of music to promote healing. If you’re a creative person or prefer creative expression, then you’ll find this approach useful.
Other methods and techniques that can be used include;
- Stress reduction techniques
- Dream Interpretation
- Experiential techniques
Is Transpersonal Therapy For You?
The answer to this question can depend on you! Seeking the right mental health support can be overwhelming and many therapeutic approaches can be useful such as CBT, dialectical behavioral therapy, and more. So when you need a personal or more humanistic approach, then you can find transpersonal counseling or therapy beneficial.
This therapy can be useful for anyone who’s seeking a spiritual connection and wants to improve the mind-body connection by enhancing their beliefs. Transpersonal therapy can remind you that the mind-body-spirit connection is an important one, not only for your mental but spiritual well-being too.
Transpersonal psychology is about combining traditional therapy techniques with spirituality, values, and personal beliefs or experiences.
While there is limited research on the effectiveness of transpersonal therapy, there have been some small-scale studies that suggest how this approach can help explore one’s sense of self, reduce depression, and even support your search for your life’s purpose.
I hope learning about transpersonal therapy and its techniques will help you make a wise decision when looking to pick the right therapy for yourself.
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