Transpersonal Therapy is the act of finding healing through exploring your spiritual connection to a higher power, an archetypal entity or a fictional character that embodies the traits and characteristics of personal well-being that you're seeking.
What is Transpersonal Therapy?
Therapy that is transcendent beyond the personal to the spiritual. Transpersonal therapy seeks to imbue a personal, mental space with a protective energy. This is usually accomplished by seeking a connection with a protective entity, archetype or character that provides a sense of nurturance or loving unconditionally; Someone who has their back on every level. Often people will choose spiritual characters like Quan Yin or mother Mary, Jesus, Moses or Buddha. Sometimes they choose a superhero like Batman or Superman or a character like Obi-Wan Kenobi. All these are icons and archetypes that embody protection.
How do you use it in practice?
I started talking about transpersonal therapy over 30 years ago, a time when people were much less inclined, to hear or even talk about energy, healing and spirituality. After I met my partner Jackie, we started talking about our different ideas about therapy, including drama therapy. Together, we co-wrote a thesis project all about creative arts therapy from a paradigm of energy and healing. My approach was strongly based in cymatics therapy, where you work to restore health and balance to the body through non-invasive sound techniques, as well as somatic therapy, a holistic therapy that studies the relationship between the mind and body in regard to psychological past. Jackie’s approach was strongly based in spirituality and transpersonal. While we both had some experience with all of them, we discovered how these different approaches complemented each other.
So what do we mean by transpersonal therapy and how do we use it? Once I’ve established a relationship with a client, one of the first things I do is help them get in touch with whatever is most meaningful to them. Some people would call that spirituality. By getting in touch with something, makes therapy go deeper, work faster and be more effective. Some questions I ask are: Do you believe in anything? Is there anything you connect with beyond your day to day normal activities? Some people might say God or Jesus, or some other icon of religion. Or, that they don’t know. And, there are ones who say they are spiritual not religious. They know exactly what that means to them.
There's also an interesting form of spirituality called the Moses code where a comma is the symbol. A phrase in the Old Testament reads “I am that I am.” In the Moses code, by placing a comma after the word “that,” it reads “I am that, I am.” So as you walk around the world, everyone and everything that you see, you pause and say “I am that.” Some examples include: you see a young mother struggling with their baby and the ability to cope. In that moment, you resonate with her and you just say, “I am that.” You see someone from a completely different culture, or different age, income or circumstances, just by saying “I am that,” you develop this spiritual resonance with other people
Other questions may include:
Do you like walking through nature?
If so, do you find that walking through nature gives you a transcendent feeling or some feeling that of grace? Perhaps that things are going to be alright, even though there are things that aren't perfect.
Do you like the warmth of the Sun?
When you’re among your friends or community, do you feel better, more connected or somehow transcendent?
Do you love music?
Does a particular type of music bring you peace? Does it help you feel connected to a larger experience?
How do you combine it with other therapies?
When I do EMDR one of the beginning phases is called Resource Installation. Resource Installation is about finding a “safe place.” A place in their mind where they feel safe, protected, loved, calm and relaxed. Then, I have them think of a nurturing character. This character can be an animal, a real person, a mythical character, or a spiritual character, fictional, movie or book character that they get a sense of nurturance or unconditional love. Then, I ask them to think of a protective character: someone who has their back on every level. That's all spirituality. Spirituality can have a wide open definition.
What are some examples of this in practice?
The most common use of Transpersonal Therapy is to answer the need for something external from their life. Are you searching for purpose and meaning? Do you have trauma or anxiety or other things that you are struggling with? Are you feeling a sense of chaos or of feeling lost? If you feel that any of these apply to you, the final question to ask is: is there something or someone in your life that can connect you to some sense of grace, transcendence, depth or flow?
The act of Transpersonal Therapy is the process of finding this entity, whether it be a religious being, an archetypal character or a even a mythical or fictional character that represents the peace, protection and strength you’re seeking. It is seeking something outside of yourself to bring connection to a better state of mind. You may come from a religious background, and you would seek this connection with Jesus, Buddha or Odin. You may come from a more secular background and connect with the archetypal idea of a caring father, a benevolent king or a wise sage or perhaps or more contemporary figure such as Batman, King Arthur or Captain America.
Whatever you choose, you utilize your connection to this person to develop a safe and nurturing space for yourself to learn, grow and heal.