Transpersonal Integrative Therapy

My training is integrated within the major theoretical frameworks, and in particular the transpersonal approach. This means I work under an umbrella of different methods to create a grounded and holistic approach to the work I do.

The transpersonal relates to the non physical experience of going ‘beyond the limits of the personal ego’ into deeper and expanded awareness. C J Jung named this the archetypal Self in which insight, wisdom and creative inspiration lie, and the potential for connection and healing.

In therapy we work towards an outcome of greater wholeness and identity that’s in deeper and improved relation to self, others and the world at large. In other words, more harmony and less stress.

Each person brings a different set of issues and goals to therapy and these influence the process and modalities I use; transpersonal ways of working may form a significant part of the experience, or not at all. This is one of the many advantages of an integrated approach – that I tailor my skills to match your needs.

If you are interested please find a summary of the approaches I use in my practice, and a more detailed explanation of how the transpersonal is applied to the psychotherapeutic process:

PSYCHODYNAMIC: How the past and particularly how our early childhood experiences have shaped our present lives and sense of who we are. Through making conscious the unconscious or forgotten aspects of ourselves we are able to fit together the missing pieces of a jigsaw puzzle so that we begin to feel more integrated and ‘whole’.

The dynamics and attachment patterns of our early relationships may get replayed in our current relationships and therefore by default, the therapeutic relationship. The role of therapy is to make conscious these dynamics through the therapist and client interpreting together what is taking place between them. This gives us the awareness and choice to change any behaviour that might now be counter-productive and help us evolve in the way we relate to ourselves and others.

This approach does not necessarily mean getting hung up on our past: it can be enough to stick to what is happening in the here and now and use this as the key to understanding our past.

I only use the psychodynamic approach with a light and gentle touch, and in relation to attachment theory and relational interplay between myself and the client. I do not employ the traditional ‘blank screen’, saying very little, adopted by some psychodynamic therapists as this can appear quite cold, harsh and unyielding to those who are feeling acutely vulnerable or have been through hard and traumatic experiences.

The greater body of my approach is drawn from the following: the humanistic, existential and transpersonal.

HUMANISTIC: An umbrella term for a number of theories/therapies – e.g. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, Rogerian – person-centred, Gestalt, Transactional Analysis – that centre on growth, health and realising potential. Therapy is centred upon the here and now with not as much focus on the unconscious and the client working towards taking responsibility for their life and experience. I mainly draw upon the following:

Rogerian (person-centred): Carl Rogers wrote in On Becoming a Person;

“It is the client who knows what hurts, what direction to go, what problems are crucial, what experiences are deeply buried.”

The Rogerian approach is non directive (on part of the therapist) while the client is in charge and directs the process of therapy. The therapist’s role is to offer unconditional positive regard, non judgement, and deep empathy for the client’s story. The therapist’s attitude provides the safe conditions required for the client to explore his/her world resulting in empowered personal growth based on trusting their experience (locus of self-evaluation).

Gestalt: An approach which focuses on present-centred, phenomenlogical awareness; becoming mindful, without judgement, of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations and actions as they happen in the present moment. This process allows us to consciously feel the effect we have on ourselves and deepen the connection to our experience. It allows us to shine a light on the unconscious, tap into our inner resources and find creative solutions. Gestalt means ‘whole or complete’: simply ‘being present’ to our inner world can help reintegrate disowned or lost parts of ourselves and complete unresolved experiences.

EXISTENTIAL: This approach explores our personal meaning about life. It views personal problems as being rooted in existential concerns. I draw particularly on the work of Irvin D. Yalom who proposes that a person’s basic anxiety, whether emerging consciously or unconsciously, is a coping mechanism for some of the harsher and unavoidable givens of existence, and that by confronting these givens in therapy we can harness powerful change:

  • The inevitability of death
  • Freedom (or lack of) to create the life we want. That we are completely responsible for ourselves.
  • Isolation and aloneness. To create a sense of belonging in and to this world.
  • Lack of meaning

For example a fear of death might be underpinning a general fear of change and moving forwards in life, or a lack of meaning might be underpinning a feelings of being stuck and an inner emptiness. And when, for example, the inevitability of death is faced, we wake up and begin to live life fully and authentically, no longer sleep walking through existence, or unconsciously distracting ourselves from the certainty of our demise.

The existential approach helps to face reality, take responsibility, accept limitations, and find meaning and purpose.

TRANSPERSONAL: The transpersonal considers all of life’s experiences as valuable and offers a positive way of understanding our difficulties. ‘What is the purpose of this problem?’ ‘What qualities am I developing or need to develop?’ ‘What can I learn from this?’ Tough times and challenging, traumatic events can offer unique opportunities for growth, and greater awareness. Sometimes we need to break down to break through – a dark night of the soul is not unlike like manure heaped on barren winter soil. It fertilises and incubates new potential and beauty; and spring always did follow winter.

Therapy works by discovering and expanding core qualities of the personality through connecting with the authentic Self. But how do we connect with this aspect of ourselves? By working with the language of the unconscious (symbolism, colour, sound) utilising some of the following tools:

Accessing the inner Self allows transformation and a balancing of the personality. It helps us to transcend the problems we face, clear difficult feelings and find new meaning; most significantly it precipitates an opening of the heart, leading to greater compassion for self and others, a deeper appreciation of life, and an overall wholeness of being.

* A note about visualisation techniques. You don’t have to be a highly visual person to benefit from this. The word ‘visual’ is a little misleading as visualisation involves all the senses, not just internal ‘seeing,’ and the whole person, not just the mind. It is enough to simply have ‘a vague sense of something.’