Transpersonal Counselling – Moving Forward
The Latin translation of the prefix ‘tran’ means to move or cut across, to go from one place to another, hence we have words such as transmit, transport or transfer. So, it’s an apt use of ‘trans’ in transpersonal, because this type of counselling is about moving beyond our personal identity or ego structures to experience deeper states of what it is to be a human being.
In this blog I will be focusing on what I know of transpersonal counselling based on my own journey as a Diamond Approach student and long-term meditator. I therefore acknowledge I have my biases and limitations as there are other methods and views about transpersonal counselling.
Ego and its Natural Extension
In transpersonal counselling it’s not that you don’t work with the personality, ego self-identity and it’s attending challenges and issues, but rather, how are these getting in the way of being in contact with our deeper nature. In more conventional methods of counselling the focus is on strengthening the ego structures, supporting a healthier relation to oneself and others. I’m casting no aspersions on this as it’s completely needed and I support people using these conventional methods. I personally believe that transpersonal counselling is a natural extension to traditional counselling methods. It’s a broadening of the inherent human potential horizon.
Transpersonal counselling is, in essence, a spiritual orientation to the world. So transpersonal counselling is not really a new idea per se, but more a reframing to a Western mindset. For myself transpersonal counselling is a merging of psychology and spirituality. I believe that Western thinking in the field of psychology and its ever-increasing knowledge of how our minds tick has added to the contemplative spiritual traditions of the East. It’s not that the Eastern traditions don’t have their psychological view, they clearly do. As mentioned Western psychology has bestowed further knowledge to spiritual paths.
How is this so? In short, both Western psychology and Eastern spiritual traditions agree that our ego identity is constructed or formed in our early years – we weren’t born with an ego personality; it’s created in the context of the environment we grew up in. As I have suggested Western psychology has, in an overall sense, created an excellent map of how we form our personalities and identity. In simple terms, if you know how something is built then it opens to the possibility that it can be unbuilt.
Application to Spirituality
How is this psychological map and potential unbuilding applicable to spirituality? From what I can tell most spiritual and mystical traditions advise that it’s our ego identity that’s obscuring our deeper nature and so have devised practices to push it aside or exterminate it. Spiritual Daleks you could say! Utilizing Western psychological maps I believe can make spiritual life easier by assisting and supporting the spiritual journey. And there you have it, the emergence of transpersonal counselling.
I believe the Diamond Approach has added a significant contribution to transpersonal counselling through the insights and direct experience of its founders and the thousands of students who have utilized its methods. One of the key discoveries has been a clear links between the loss and disconnection from deeper states of being and particular psychological patterning/structures during identity and ego formation. For most people there appears to be a cause and effect between the formation and development of the ego/personality identity and the loss of deeper states of our true nature. For example, one of the unconditioned states of our deeper nature is it’s inherent ‘value’, meaning, that our core Self is precious and we feel and know ourselves as value. This state of Being usually gets lost as we become conditioned and socialized into the world, replaced by the ego version of value, self-esteem. The general issue with self-esteem is that it is sort outside of ourselves requiring validation from others, how we look, success etc. Inherent value on the other hand isn’t dependent on the external as that is what we are.
All the best