Transpersonal therapy

Medically reviewed by Julie Dodson
Updated February 7, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team
Transpersonal therapy generally takes a holistic approach by focusing not only on the health of the mind, but on the wellness of the body and spirit as well. Transpersonal therapy generally aims to improve a person's view of life, increase their self-confidence, help them heal from trauma, and encourage a positive relationship between body and mind to improve the overall quality of life. Transpersonal therapy can help with a variety of mental health challenges, and you can attend sessions in person or online.

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Feel Celebrated And Encouraged With Transpersonal Therapy
What is transpersonal therapy?

A variety of disorders can be treated with transpersonal therapy, including depression, anxiety, mood and behavioral disorders, and phobias. Individuals who seek a more spiritual approach to their daily issues will likely find this treatment beneficial.

In transpersonal therapy, the individual will typically learn to develop new coping mechanisms to address past and current issues and gain insight into repetitive behaviors. Individuals who wish to become in tune with their spiritual needs can often find solace in this approach with a transpersonal therapist.

Transpersonal approaches in clinical psychology

When one is only focusing on their problems, it is often difficult to see the bigger picture. This can also prevent the further development of coping skills. For example, perhaps an artistically inclined person lacks the motivation to create art because depression or anxiety interrupts thoughts about how their work will be perceived. With transpersonal counseling, individuals who feel that they have an unremarkable or ordinary personality can regain the confidence to pursue those passions that have been lost and start making progress toward human development.

Transpersonal therapy typically uses a combination of approaches that include Western and Eastern philosophy, mysticism, behaviorism, and cognitive psychology. Transpersonal psychotherapy also frequently takes influence from the world's religions as it recognizes other cultures’ contributions to the mind-body relationship conversation to improve physical and mental health and well-being.

Techniques to be put into practice

A transpersonal therapist usually teaches their clients how to cope with specific disorders by focusing on key areas and using the following techniques emphasized in this specific model of psychotherapy:

  • Meditation. This typically involves sitting still, focusing on breathing, and creating a calm environment in which to clear your mind.
  • Drawing Mandalas. Drawing mandalas can be viewed as a mindfulness technique that focuses on clearing the mind and coping with past traumas.
  • Journaling. Journaling can provide the power to see the problems at hand and determine which ones require one's energy and focus. Journaling can also release unpleasant emotions, so they are not carried around during the day.
  • Music Growth. This therapeutic approach can include dancing, creating, and listening to music to facilitate healing and growth. Those who are creative may find music therapy particularly beneficial. 
  • Mindfulness Techniques. Mindfulness normally includes focusing on the elements of breathing, surroundings, and sensations, which can help build self-awareness and contribute to self-fulfillment. It can center the individual so they’re more prepared to handle daily stressors and tackle life's challenges.
  • Visualization. This can be seen as a form of guided meditation where one can safely create spaces of comfort to help when not feeling well or not coping properly.
  • Hypnotherapy. During hypnotherapy, the therapist will usually guide the individual to a safe place in the mind to uncover any hidden potentials or any of the problems that are holding the individual back by visiting altered states of consciousness.

Research suggests transpersonal therapy can address varied concerns related to an individual’s mental, emotional, and spiritual health. In a study on the efficacy of transpersonal therapy for cancer patients, treatment led to improvements in symptoms of anxiety, post-traumatic disorder, and depression. Researchers in another study found that transpersonal therapy led to reductions in symptoms of depression in participants living with breast cancer.

These techniques can help those in transpersonal therapy develop a different perspective and explore personal self-concepts and personal passions. By exploring the spiritual self and your true nature and fostering open-mindedness, you can create more meaning in life and improve the inner strengths of the human personality that have always been present in you. Thus, transpersonal approaches can help provide balance and improve overall wellness.

A brief history and overview

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Abraham Maslow, one of the key figures in the founding of humanistic psychology, developed this holistic and humanistic approach in the 1960s with other psychologists, such as Carl Jung and Roberto Assagioli. Maslow is perhaps most commonly known for his hierarchy of needs, which focuses on the basic needs of the individual in order to thrive. He believed that humans could become dull and nihilistic without the other aspects of their needs being met, the "other needs" being those that are transcendent beyond tangible observance. Through spiritual cultivation and healing, the individual can thrive as a human. This transpersonal theory is generally the foundation and true essence of transpersonal psychology, which is often referred to as spiritual psychology.

The contributions of Maslow and his colleagues to our understanding of our purpose and meaning in life continue to help shape psychology today. In an article published in the International Journal of Transpersonal Studies, researchers explain how spirituality—which they refer to as “an important component of a transpersonal worldview”—is being increasingly legitimized in “a variety of disciplines”.

Transpersonal vs. other psychotherapies

Rather than focusing on negative events or negative thoughts, transpersonal therapy usually focuses on the positives. What skills does the person have that can be celebrated and encouraged? What have they already done that is healthy and worth acknowledging? This type of therapy can take your human potential and push you to cultivate already-developed skills and inner capabilities.

Transpersonal therapy doesn't typically see the individual as being separate from the world, but rather as a piece of the whole, which is a concept that can also be related to existential psychology. Individuals are generally seen as part of their natural surroundings, with the understanding that all can be influenced by what is surrounding them. Therefore, your surroundings can influence your human psyche. By making changes to better your surroundings or to improve an overall spiritual connection, one may improve their environment and self by creating positive influences.

In psychotherapy, the mental health professional isn't always seen as the only one who has the tools and expertise to help. This particular approach often focuses on what the individual can do instead of what the therapist can offer. They frequently become more of a facilitator in this instance, and the client, or transpersonal being, may take control of uncovering truths. It can be important to remember that the individual in transpersonal psychotherapy is the one in control of healing and well-being, and transpersonal therapists are generally there to guide you. The provider can help find personal truths as the individual works through the sessions.

Is transpersonal psychotherapy right for you?

If you’re looking for a personal approach that puts the individual in control, then transpersonal counseling with a transpersonal psychology professional may be a fit for you.

The holistic transpersonal therapy approach in psychology can be appealing to those who are already spiritual, bolstering their own beliefs about their mind-body relationships. Transpersonal therapy and psychology can improve the connection to your spiritual beliefs as well as the courage to seek guidance when in need. Asking for help can be the hardest part of seeking treatment and becoming more spiritually aware, but transpersonal therapy and spiritual practices can help you accept that sometimes help is needed to get through life--and that's okay!

Additionally, when seeking to enrich one's connections in life, it can be constructive to use transpersonal therapy. It often reminds the individual that those connections are just as important to well-being in their spiritual path. After all, the people we choose to be around can influence us, whether we realize it or not. It can be beneficial to choose friends who want to see you learn and grow. If you would like to work and connect with others who are interested in this modality, consider participating in transpersonal group psychotherapy.

Try online transpersonal therapy

Most often, a transpersonal therapist can be found in most cities by doing a search on the internet. Therapists trained in transpersonal approaches can guide you on a personal journey to an improved quality of life and human growth. Since the results can be particularly overwhelming, sometimes starting with online services with a licensed therapist can be the easier route. In addition, online therapy can add convenience, as it typically allows for easy scheduling and the opportunity to attend therapy from anywhere you have a stable internet connection.

Research comparing internet-based treatment to traditional face-to-face sessions shows that online treatment can be highly effective. This study found that online counseling could be even more effective than traditional in-person therapy sessions. Please don’t hesitate to reach out for the professional guidance you deserve. You can find a therapist online through various platforms and directories. 

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Feel Celebrated And Encouraged With Transpersonal Therapy

Takeaway

Transpersonal therapy can be different from other forms of therapy because it tends to have a more holistic approach. Unlike some other types of therapy, it focuses on mental, physical, and spiritual health together, rather than mental health on its own. Through transpersonal therapy, it can be possible to heal from trauma, cultivate a positive relationship between your body and mind, improve your self-confidence and view of life, and overcome various mental health challenges. To find meditation-guided therapy, transpersonal therapy, or another spiritual modality in clinical psychology you may connect with a transpersonal therapist in person or through an online therapy platform.

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