Transpersonal Psychology, Self Help Literature
While many people might be unfamiliar with transpersonal psychology, its methodologies are commonly found in popular self help literature and alternative health practices. “Transpersonal psychology is concerned with the study of humanity’s highest potential, and with the recognition, understanding, and realization of unitive, spiritual, and transcendent states of consciousness” [Denise Lajoie and Sam Shapiro, Definitions of Transpersonal Psychology: The First Twenty-Three Years (1992)].
For the most part, the methodologies used in transpersonal therapy are purposefully left up to the individual psychologist. This flexibility allows personal healing, transformation, and self actualization to unfold organically without adherence to any specific dogma or strict set of directives. Not surprisingly, the list of potential transpersonal tools outlined by Marcie Boucouvalas in Transpersonal Psychology: An Outline of the Field (1980) is quite long and extremely varied.
Meditation, Visualization, and Guided Imagery
Perhaps the most common method noted in transpersonal treatment is meditation. Traditionally, meditation was used for stilling the mind, becoming aware of each moment, and ultimately, as a means to become awakened or enlightened. However, meditation can also be easily adapted for use in personal centering, dealing with extreme emotions, stress relief, and management of physical symptoms.
When used in conjunction with visualization, mediation is an important part of guided imagery exercises. Unlike regular meditation, with this technique the practitioner directs the client’s experience. In this way, the individual may be asked to visualize or imagine a desired end such as the lessening of symptoms or be taken on a journey to safely explore and heal past traumas. Often images such as animals or symbols are employed to personalize the experience thus increasing the potential effectiveness.
Shadow Work, Belief Work, Affirmations, and Journaling
Beyond meditation and guided imagery, the methods used by transpersonal practitioners are extremely varied. Some of these techniques are very familiar to most people as they are commonly presented in popular self-help literature. Thus, shadow work, belief work, exercises to increase intuition awareness, affirmations, and journaling are well known therapy methods that are associated with transpersonal psychology.
Energy Work, Dream Work, Shamanism, Yoga, Music, and Chanting
Other transpersonal techniques may not be as commonly recognized. These include hands on treatments, exercises involving breath work, or other physically based practices such as bioenergetics, Alexander’s technique, tai chi, yoga, rolfing, Reiki, and massage. Other more spiritually, metaphysically, or mystically charged activities such as lucid dreaming, shamanistic healing, chanting, and transpersonal uses of music, art, and psychedelic drugs are also known to be beneficial to transpersonal efforts.
Thus, a wide variety of methods and techniques are available to the transpersonal psychologist. These individuals may chose to specialize in one area of expertise such as energy psychology or provide a range of treatment options. Often therapists combine uniquely transpersonal techniques such as meditation with traditional psychoanalysis.