A Brief Introduction to Transpersonal Psychology


Transpersonal = beyond the personal, beyond the ego

Transpersonal psychology is the field of psychology that integrates psychological concepts, theories, and methods with the subject matter and practices of the spiritual disciplines. One might say that transpersonal psychology is concerned both with “growing up” (psychological considerations) and with “waking up” (spiritual considerations).

Transpersonal psychology is interested in the evolution of a healthy individual self and is also particularly interested in the concept of transcending a too-narrow sense of self.  This transcendence means that at particular times and over time, we find ourselves identifying with something that is deeper or higher, broader, and more unified with the whole. Transpersonal psychology does actually value the personal and also honors the place of the nonpersonal or trranspersonal in our lives. Transpersonal approaches often view the transpersonal and even the nondual as the more fundamental ground of being.

Transpersonal psychology provides an inclusive and integral perspective that acknowledges the validity and relevance of mystical states, meditative and/or ritual practices, nonordinary or paranormal experiences, and the transpersonal dimensions of the body, sexuality, relationships, service, and encounters with the natural world.

As a field, transpersonal psychology provides a context for approaching ourselves and our lives in a way that:

  • can integrate and move beyond classic (perceived) binaries, such as body-mind, spirit-matter, self-other, independence-interdependence, male-female, and so on
  • values thinking, feeling, contemplation and action
  • addresses the relevance of both the psychological and the spiritual
  • has space for mental health in both its optimal and distressed states
  • values ordinary and non-ordinary states of consciousness
  • acknowledges Western and Eastern perspectives, traditional and nontraditional approaches to spiritual practice, postmodern perspectives, gender theory, and worldviews of indigenous traditions

Transpersonal psychology is not only a field of psychological practice – one concerned with deepening our understanding of human nature and realizing our potential. It is also a field that values inquiry, and in valuing research, gives weight to direct experience and empirical findings, and seeks methodologies that allow for the thoughtful analysis of its theories and findings.

From the perspective of transpersonal psychology, modern and traditional psychologies  and the rich history of spiritual disciplines can inform each other, leading to a broader and inclusive approach for addressing the everyday needs of people as well as the farther ranges of human experience. In practice, transpersonal perspectives and psychotherapy honor our ability to function well in everyday life, while also recognizing there is a deep and profound reality that is also the ground of everyday life.

To learn more about how I approach these topics in therapy, please visit the Psychospiritual Psychology and Psychotherapy page here.


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