Transpersonal Psychology: An Emerging Perspective of Consciousness and Therapy in Ireland

by Markus Hohmann

“Our normal waking consciousness, rational consciousness as we call it, is but one special type of consciousness, whilst all about it, parted from it by the filmiest of screens there lie potential forms of consciousness entirely different.”  William James.

One hundred years ago, William James used the term ‘Transpersonal’ for the first time, referring to that which lies between individuals. Since then a lot has developed in the field of Transpersonal Psychology and consciousness science and has been called: “[…] the fourth force in Psychology, following Psychoanalysis, Behaviourism and Humanistic Psychology.” (Beata Bishop, 2005 as well as Ian Gordon-Brown).

Transpersonal Psychology is not a single standing theory or discipline, but is strongly based on the work done by Carl G. Jung, Roberto Assagioli, Abraham Maslow and their successors. It has seen a rapid expansion of research over the last 30 years in America and Europe including many now well known authors like Wilber, Grof, Lukoff, Rowan, Mindell, Ferrer, to name just a few. But the roots of the Transpersonal not only lie in the West but are partially based on and are reaching back for thousands of years in the spiritual and religious traditions of the East: Hinduism, Buddhism, Tao, Yoga and esoteric schools.

Also new discoveries and theories in the field of Quantum Physics have been and are continuing to inspire and fecundate the conceptualisation of the multifaceted and complex nature of consciousness, life and the universe, with all its manifestations and interconnections.

But Transpersonal Psychology does not remain here: on the high mountain peaks of science, nor in ancient roots of history and certainly not in intangible distances of space. It is a very practical and ‘down to earth’ approach to Psychotherapy and ultimately to everyday life.Transpersonal Psychology has been applied in areas like: anxiety, depression, drug addiction and terminal illness, as well as dealing with life-crisis and ‘spiritual emergencies’.

In Transpersonal philosophy, life is essentially seen as a journey into discovery, realisation and development, during which all parts of the self: mind (ego), body, feelings and ‘Higher Self’ or soul are working together for integration and wholeness.

In its various forms, TP offers a spectrum of tools and skills: Dreamwork, imagery, visualisation, meditation, altered states of consciousness and the use of symbols; occasional peak experiences or mystical moments help us to realize the oneness of all life. As those occur spontaneously, in a silent moment, as time seems to stand still, all boundaries dissolve and open the path of understanding that all is exactly as it should be within the cosmic order.

While such experiences often show lasting change in the perception of the person and consequently their experience of life as well as their place within it, they also can be utilized on the ‘downward journey’ into the shadows of the unconscious. This ‘downward journey’, when viewed from the perspective of Body-Psychotherapy also means  ‘downward into the body’, with its increased flow of libidinal energy, as unconscious material or ‘blocks’ get cleared, thus benefiting aliveness and well-being.

While much of the above might be familiar to you, the reader and has a definite rooting in Humanistic and Integrative Psychotherapy, there are also new developments in Ireland: in March 2006 the Irish Association of Transpersonal Psychology (IATP) was launched in order to facilitate and support Transpersonal developments in Ireland.

A web-site was subsequently published ) with the intention to provide a platform for publications of articles relevant to Transpersonal Psychology in Ireland. Through this, we hope, a membership based (on-line) community will emerge, connecting people and their work, their research and experiences. So far, four e-newsletters have been published, which consisted of a few short articles as well as general news.

Looking into the future, we aim to facilitate and support the development of Transpersonal Psychotherapy Training, Continued Professional Development and research. The IATP was founded with the encouragement of EUROTAS, the European umbrella organisation for Transpersonal Psychology and support is steadily growing in Ireland.

Markus Hohmann is a Biodynamic and Transpersonal Psychotherapist, working in private practice in Cork and Bantry. He is the founder and administrator of the IATP.

Contact: e-mail: info@iatp.ie

References:

James, W. (2005) In the Living Spirit: Spirituality, psychic awareness and creativity. by Maureen O’Conner, Transpersonal Psychology Review, Vol. 9, 1, Spring 2005.

Bishop, B. (2005): The Role of the Transpersonal in Life-Threatening Illness. Positive Health, Nov. 2005. Republished on Eurotas web-site: www.eurotas.org

Gordon-Brown, I. (2005) Transpersonal Psychology. in: Ways through the Wall Lydney: First Stone Publishing.