Introduction and definition of Transpersonal Development Essay

Introduction and definition of Transpersonal Development :

There are 2 ways to define transpersonal psychology - Introduction and definition of Transpersonal Development Essay introduction. Transpersonal psychology can be defined as a field of study i.e., the overlap of spirituality and psychology. Going by this definition, transpersonal psychology does not hold any particular view or context and is therefore defined either by its content or process. This definition is similar to definitions of other areas of psychology, such as developmental psychology, personality theory, or clinical psychology. Transpersonal psychology has a focus but there can be different theoretical approaches within that focus e.g., behavioral, psychodynamic, or cognitive.

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Transpersonal psychology can also be defined by its context as a meta-theory or a paradigm i.e., comparable to behaviorism or cognitive psychology. This definition focuses on its particular views, principles, and beliefs.

Transpersonal theory proposes that there are developmental stages beyond the adult ego which involve the experience of connectedness with phenomena considered outside the boundaries of ego. In healthy individuals, these developmental stages can engender the highest human qualities, including altruism, creativity, and intuitive wisdom. For persons lacking healthy ego development, however, such experiences can lead to psychosis. Superficially, transpersonal states appear to look as similar to psychosis. However, transpersonal theory can assist clinicians in discriminating between these two conditions, thereby optimizing treatment.

Transpersonal therapy and it’s process :

Transpersonal psychology as a therapy emerged as an area of focus in the last 25 years, as an extension of study in psychology that delves into the conscious, spiritual growth, body-mind therapies and personal transformation. The study and integration of the transpersonal acknowledges that spiritual levels and awareness are essential levels of development, and if nurtured and developed can transform an individual’s life leading to a deeper self-understanding, fulfillment, and greater health of the body-mind. The transpersonal takes into account all aspects of the self. There is a connect within the whole person and the whole of the person’s life. A main thrust in the therapeutic process is to bridge the various parts of self and establish a healthy connection to these inherent aspects. Transpersonal therapy uses many modalities and bridges the many disciplines and schools of thought.  The thrust and direction would depend upon the therapist and his or her training, orientation, gifts and proclivity. Transpersonal therapy engages the ‘persona’ of an individual and integrates the levels and states of consciousness to create the awareness and utilization of the trans-personal. There is a focus on self development and attention directed towards the needs and wants of the person to aid the growth, healing, awareness and empowerment. This self development and growth naturally lends itself to bridge with the transpersonal. When one is truly empowered one begins to seek and then see what is below the surface and perhaps not readily seen. The question “there must be something more” is answered for the individual in a framework that speaks to their life focus and beliefs. In this way transpersonal therapy weaves through the multitude of beliefs and seeks to affirm individuality and uniqueness; yet confirm the unity of all life. We all come from and are made from the same source.  In this deep understanding, belief and feeling of this awareness there is an immense level of healing, growth, inspiration, upliftment, sense of universal solidarity and peace that is experienced.

In connecting to the trans-personal the individual is connecting to his or her own exalted self and state of awareness. There is the recognition of a connection to the whole and something larger. This something is ‘the all that is ’ consciousness. The transpersonal is not religious, but through religion one can have transpersonal experiences. The transpersonal can be felt in a myriad of religions, belief systems, rituals, esoteric philosophies, disciplines and activities.  However, to consistently be able to tap into this state at will or live in this state is quite another situation and is possible.

Techniques and uses of transpersonal therapy

Transpersonal psychotherapy suggests that the technique to use must fit the client. Apart from the more obvious techniques such as imagination, meditation, and prayer, transpersonal psychologists have developed a wide range of innovative therapies and the process of discovering more therapies continues to go on. Yensen a renowned psychologist, has for example developed a perceptual affective therapy using audio-visual environments. Other techniques include bio-feedback, multi-modality therapy, relationship psychotherapy, breathwork, guided-imagery therapy, psychedelic psychotherapy, and past-life therapy to name only a few. Another important therapy has to do with dis-identification. Dis-identifying from the personality means recognizing experimentally that our personality is not what we are but what we have–not the source of our identity but the means by which we express that identity in the world. By dis-identifying from it, we do not destroy or abandon it, rather, we transcend its limitations and the self-centered and separative tendencies these limitations can bring.

A simple technique reported by Enright, is renaming the symptom. By renaming the problem e.g., saying “persistent” instead of “stubborn”, the client realizes that she has control over the meaning and value of the problem, and it sometimes offers humor which can defuse a potential crisis.

It is important to note that the therapist must try to understand and appreciate the client’s life, teach the client to meditate, have the client pay attention to dreams, and encourage the client to read sacred texts.

Knowledge of the ancient Eastern doctrine of the chakras has led to special techniques associated with premature or spontaneous chakra activation. According to Nelson, who says that “the chakras are archetypes” and an understanding of them is crucial for psychology. As archetypes, their activation or functioning can cause altered states of consciousness and can serve as guides to spiritual development. “Because we tend to deny levels of awareness above our present focus, breakthroughs of higher consciousness are usually mis-diagnosed and treated with methods that negate their potential for spiritual growth” .

A transpersonal approach to therapy holds that unhappiness is not the normal human condition. The goal of transpersonal therapy is to liberate the client from the root cause of unhappiness, which is the alienation of the ego from the Self. The transpersonal therapist strives to eliminate the sense of loneliness and estrangement in the client, so typical of our third-chakra society, by allowing the penetration of higher consciousness into her awareness in a gradual and structured manner that integrates rather than represses the spiritual experience.

Many people today have spiritual or extrasensory experiences but because of ignorance tend to repress or downplay them. Knowledge of ego-transcendence processes is helping psychologists to understand many forms of spiritual crisis and to develop effective coping strategies.

Critiques of transpersonal approaches

The 2 major models of transpersonal development are: Alexander’s Post-representational Model & Wilber’s Spectrum Model .

 

Alexander’s Post-representational Model:

Alexander a renowned psychologist, postulated a model of development which accounts for transpersonal experiences throughout the life span and as indicators of the natural direction of development. The adult development Alexander et al. talk about is not only in terms of post formal operational development of emotions / intuitions and ego but changes that are “post-representational”. This concept of post-representation is the key to Alexander’s theory, as traditional developmental psychologists believe that there is really only one big developmental leap, from the sensorimotor to the representational.

Wilber’s Spectrum Model:

Wilber’s Spectrum model is similar to the Alexander model. Although Wilber talks about 20 stages in the development of the human, he characterizes these in terms of 3 phases which can be summarized in 7 stages. The lower half of these stages are based on the works of classical developmental psychologists viz., Piaget and Erikson, while for the upper half he draws on his reading of the “world’s esoteric spiritual texts” from east and west.

The components of Wilber’s model are i. basic structures ii. transition stages iii. self-system. He uses a simple metaphor to explain the difference between these 3 components:

The basic structures themselves are like a ladder, each rung of which is a level in the Great Chain of Being. The self is the climber of the ladder. At each rung of that ladder, the self has a different view or perspective on reality, sense of identity, a different sense of moral obligation, a different set of self-needs, and so on. The changes in the sense of self and its reality which shift from level-to-level, are referred to collectively as the self-stages.

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