I am currently undertaking research to evaluate the relevance of early life and psychodynamic ideas of unconscious communication e.g. transference and counter transference to transpersonal integrative psychotherapy. I am reminded how ground breaking the ideas of Freud was, how distasteful the language and ideas of Melanie Klein can be and how attachment theory is so male centered in thinking. But I am also reminded how difficult the transpersonal approach can be for some people.
A transpersonal perspective on the psyche (Wilber 1978) is that we come from spirit, our true nature is divine and our essence is of a split-off fragment of an all-encompassing consciousness. The word ‘spirit’ is derived from spiritus which implies wind or breath. The alchemical journey is to reveal our true nature, before we were born.
Sa’adi says “Every being is created for a purpose and the light of that purpose is already kindled in his soul” (Khan, 1978 p 182)
However, sometimes I get the feeling that people, outside transpersonal circles, begin to question my scrupples when I start making reference to our essence, or dare I mention it, our soul qualities. For them we come from matter and they aggressively discount the notion of the soul. Religious connotations aside at this Easter time, it is quite a leap for some people to consider the notion of soul qualities, even more alarming would be issues pertaining to transmigration of the soul. The truth, though, is that I am at best agnostic myself most of the time as I struggle with life’s injustices and with the notion that there is a soul let allow a journey of the soul. For me, the ultimate creative attitude in life, especially whilst learning, is to try to remain open minded as I deal with such struggles.
As integrative psychotherapists we are not merely practitioners of new age ideas bent on tuning in to the elements and seeking mercurial fixes for the client. Yes, we can avail of the elements when seeking to see the person in the round but we will never hesitate to work with transference and counter transference and seek to identify the unconscious material in the therapeutic relationship. I believe that as integrative therapists we are carrying a basic toolkit of theory and methods out of which we can produce an approach that is appropriate to the client. In this I like what Erikson (Erikson 1987) said about a new psychology emerging every time we close the door and sit down with a new client. That is truly to remain open minded.