• Transpersonal psychotherapy takes into account your spiritual and embodied experience, as well as your mind and cognitive processes

  • Therapist Kim Coussell explains further

  • You can find transpersonal psychotherapists on welldoing.org here

At its essence transpersonal psychotherapy means to go beyond the personal (that is to say, the ego) – but what does this look like in a session with a transpersonal psychotherapist? 

A transpersonal therapist is attuned and open to their client’s essence, including more indistinct elements, such as the client’s spiritual nature. A transpersonal therapist is conscious of their client’s innate potential. This potential may be masked under their limiting beliefs, and the impact of life experiences that may have influenced how free they feel to express themselves in the world. 

As a client you might view something as needing to be 'fixed'; from a transpersonal perspective, challenging experiences can offer an opportunity for dormant qualities within us to emerge, allowing a fuller sense of ourselves to find expression. Our inherent nature is so much more profound than our adapted selves from which we may hold ourselves back or limit our potential.

As an integrative therapeutic approach, transpersonal psychotherapy combines a range of approaches to therapy. Transpersonal therapy draws from varied psychological models and considers what it means to be human on many levels: psychologically, physically, behaviourally, cognitively, and spiritually.

  • Psychologically is traversing our psychological make up
  • Physiologically is our mind and body synergy, the impact the mind has on the body and vice versa, with the view that the body is an energetic system as well as a physical one
  • Behavioural elements can incorporate aspects of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), that is to say how your core beliefs influence your perspective and view of the world and how you respond to people around you
  • Cognitively offers an exploration of your thoughts and feelings and reactions. Looking a little deeper into what has led to the core beliefs we can then explore what is under the surface, and the client and therapist can be together in the session with feelings that perhaps have been under the surface for a while!
  • Spirituality allows for experiences deep within ourselves to become more available to us, such as increased connection to one’s intuition, the sacred and awakened consciousness 

Our experiences are important, especially those in early life when we adapt to our environment and our caregivers. During those first few years of life we learn what is acceptable to others and what is not. This information is taken in consciously or unconsciously through our relationship with our caregivers, in our educational settings and from social and cultural influences. 

The beliefs we pick up about ourselves then influence our sense of self and how much of ourselves we feel confident to express. Transpersonal psychotherapy welcomes the interconnectedness of all aspects of our human and spiritual selves. When being present with a client’s psychology and taking into consideration their spiritual selves, the therapeutic relationship offers an understanding of self that is beyond merely the cognitive idea of self.

Through the use of creative imagination in sessions therapists may suggest incorporating creativity through the use of art, breath work, the inner child, meditation, guided visualisation and dreams, to name just a few techniques. Sometimes this takes us to something in one’s body and by noting responses in our body we may be taken to information of something that perhaps is being held onto emotionally in the energetic system and influencing the physical body. An energetic release can occur when a connection is made to difficult feelings that have been buried. This is an example of both the physiological elements incorporated with the psychological.

Dreams are full of symbolism and through them the psyche can freely find expression without needing to decipher concrete meaning; dreams are open to exploration and interpretation. Sometimes in dreams archetypal images may emerge and although messages may not be immediately obvious they can be powerful to delve into. An archetype is an unconscious energy that carries through time, a form of expression that we intuitively know and understand. An example of an archetype is the Great Mother, this image held in our psyches can be then seen and recognised for some as Mother Nature, for example. Archetypes are within each of our individual psyches and can be discovered across cultures, in books, imagery or our dreams. These images are carried down over time and are a collective experience.

Transpersonal psychotherapy upholds that by understanding ourselves more holistically, we can understand our responses to our experiences and become more authentically ourselves. As you transcend more immediate experiences and unearth more meaning I believe we see a valuable transformation, a deep emotional evolution often resulting in an increased embodiment as our inner experience is further integrated which then flows out to one’s outer experience.

Kim Coussell is a verified welldoing.org therapist in Dorset and online

Further reading

Why we internalise shame in childhood

Read about people's experiences of therapy

The lasting impact of adverse childhood experiences

Why does my therapist ask about my childhood?

Watch our videos about different types of therapy