Transpersonal Therapy:
Recovering the Essential Self

transpersonal therapy

What is Transpersonal Psychotherapy?

In transpersonal therapy it is recognized that there are developmental stages beyond the adult ego, which involve experiences of non-duality, oneness, or connection to all life. In healthy individuals, these developmental stages lead to higher states of consciousness including altruism, creativity, intuition and unconditional love. 

"Psychotherapy is the only form of therapy there is. Since only the mind can be sick, only the mind can be healed. Only the mind is in need of healing. This does not appear to be the case, for the manifestations of this world seem real indeed."

-A Course In Miracles

Transpersonal Therapy focuses on the Essential Self. The word "transpersonal" comes from the Latin "trans," meaning beyond and through, and "persona," meaning mask or personality. Transpersonal therapy is truly holistic, encompassing all levels of human experience, including the spiritual, seeking to reveal the person behind the personality. Transpersonal psychology is not a religious or dogmatic approach, but it draws it's methodology from the spiritual traditions of the world, including eastern philosophies such as Buddhism, the Yogic traditions of India, and Western Contemplative traditions, and integrates them with contemporary psychology. The human experience of transcendental or non-egoic states of consciousness exist across all culture and traditions.

In transpersonal therapy, it is essential that the therapist recognize that he/she is equal to the client and in fact, on the level of pure consciousness, there is no separation between them. This shift in ideology changes the whole nature of the therapy. The therapist is not in a superior position to the client, and listens with suspended judgment and an attitude of deep respect. While each person has their own thoughts and beliefs and feelings, their experiences cannot be completely separate. The consciousness of one has a direct impact on that of the other. It is in that shared consciousness, where true empathy and insight can take place for both therapist and client. While it is still important at times for the therapist to be discriminating and analytical, the primary mode of being with the client is with an attitude of open-mindedness, wonder and innocence, (what is referred to as "beginners mind" in Zen Buddhism). It is as if everything that is said, and felt, and thought, was for the first time ever. The therapist strives to be completely genuine, "authentic," and "present" and coaches the client to do the same. Both aspire to be self-aware, honest, and "real." This makes for a powerful therapeutic relationship in which tremendous healing and growth can take place.

Learn more about the theories of transpersonal therapy.

Transpersonal States vs Psychosis

There has been much confusion and misunderstanding in  mainstream psychology, which has often made it difficult to know the difference between psychotic states and enlightened states of consciousness. Though they can appear quite similar, psychosis occurs when one's ego is not well developed or when an experience is so powerful that it overwhelms the ability to integrate and balance, resulting in disorganization and chaos. A person experiencing a state of enlightenment may appear psychotic or schizophrenic to some, but such a person is rooted in certain qualities of being that are not based on fear or destructive tendencies and also has the ability to self-regulate.

Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (is it transpersonal?)

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) has been shown to be a very effective treatment for depression and anxiety. Its premise is that our thoughts and deeply held assumption and beliefs influence our emotions and perceptions. However, CBT does not address the deeper questions of consciousness and the Essential Self. Combined with transpersonal therapy principles, CBT takes on a different tone. Utilizing certain techniques of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, I emphasize the importance of Self-acceptance, and the recognition that one's outer appearances, thoughts, ideas and feelings are but temporary shadows. When we mistake these shadows of the mind as our true self, we suffer greatly. We fall into guilt, shame, fear, and depression.

The mind with all it's constant chatter and analysis, filters the Truth and distorts the perception of reality. The mind is incapable of knowing the Essential Self, just as the mind is incapable of imagining the number of stars in the sky or drops in the ocean.

When the practice of mindfulness is added to cognitive behavioral therapy, it opens up a greater possibility for transpersonal experiences.

Energy Psychology and Transpersonal Therapy

Energy Psychology is a relatively new field, but I believe that within the next five years it will be the gold standard of mental health treatment as well as be accepted as an important adjunct to medical treatment for many physical conditions.

There is a vast and ever-growing number of techniques within the field of Energy Psychology. The most popular, and one of the most effective and well researched methods (more than 60 peer-reviewed studies as of 2015),  EFT Tapping (Emotional Freedom Techniques), is 1) non-invasive 2) highly specific when used clinically, and 3) often reduces treatment time and has lasting results when used properly.

EFT Tapping, when used clinically as is taught in Gold Standard EFT, involves many elements of CBT and also has much in common with exposure therapy, systematic desensitization and mindfulness.

EFT is like acupuncture for the emotions (without using needles) By tapping gently with one's finger tips on specific acupressure points on the surface of the skin as you focus mentally on specific target symptoms, the nervous system is balanced and the chemistry of the brain and body can instantly shift. This simple process allows deep, instantaneous and usually lasting change to take place on many levels. Negative thoughts and emotions can disappear, destructive habits and behaviors can cease, and your capacity to experience joy, peace, love and positive relationships can be greatly enhanced. Energy Psychology methods such as EFT offer a wonderful method of healing for the Transpersonal model, as it gracefully and easily eliminates the barriers to a deeper state of peace, clarity and empowerment. EFT can be used to treat emotional pain and trauma, thus supporting ego strength, and can also be used to open to spiritual experiences and higher states of consciousness.

Learn more about EFT - A powerful Energy Psychology Technique

Just imagine becoming the way you used to be as a very young child, before you understood the meaning of any word, before opinions took over your mind. The real you is loving, joyful, and free. The real you is just like a flower, just like the wind, just like the ocean, just like the sun.

Miguel Angel Ruiz

How Does Psychotherapy Work?

To schedule an appointment for Transpersonal Psychotherapy in Sonoma County, or to arrange for a Phone Counseling session, call Santa Rosa Psychotherapist

Ben Schwarcz, MA, MFT
Transpersonal Therapy


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