I recently chatted with Nigel Hamilton, director of the Centre for Counselling and Psychotherapy Education (or CCPE) about the Dream Research Institute (or DRI).
Launched in September 2012, the DRI promotes research into the connection between dreams and well being from a spiritual perspective. The Dream Research Institute supports and archives a synergy of research to advance our understanding of dreams. Click here to see the current research topics. Mary Zeimer is the manager and research officer of DRI and you can contact her by email on firstname.lastname@example.org
Since its establishment in 1984, CCPE have grown to be the largest training centre for transpersonal psychotherapy in the UK. The centre occupies a five storey Regency building located on the banks of the Grand Union Canal in Little Venice.
This past weekend we had a two day experiential workshop on the psychology of accomplishment, a mandatory part of the diploma course. However, you do not need to be a student at the CCPE in order to attend a weekend course like this. If you wanted to attend you could come as a member of the public and sit with diploma students.
The power of the weekend was to identify the role of my inner critic, the little voice that says ‘give up now’ and to strive to continue to manifest the qualities to continue to boost my confidence, belief and esteem.
I had previously attended a life coaching course in Londonwhich was run by the Coaching Academy. That particular course had incorporated a lot of NLP tools and techniques such as the timeline exercise, the GROW model, the comfort zone exercise and the Wheel of Life exercise. I was, therefore, intrigued whether there would be much overlap with the transpersonal psychotherapy view of goal setting.
The weekend comprised of the following:
The art of choosing a goal.
What stops us from choosing right goal and why we fail to achieve the goal.
The role of concentration, meditation and dreams in achieving our goal.
Planning, motivation, sacrifice and completion.
The role of perseverance and how to develop it.
The Elements Model in its current form is unique to the CCPE‘s transpersonal approach to understanding personality as ‘an individual’s unique expression of the divine’; its focus is unfolding qualities (Gruber, 2007). The aim of the Elements Model is to bring balance and harmony between the elements. As a result, a lot of the work in therapy is to assess where your potential is in relation to the elements.
Accomplishment has three paths:
1) The path of the Master: This is the striving for expertise and reward. The master will employ a force of will to make things happen.
2) The path of the Saint: This can manifest as a commitment to a cause such as to an environmental cause such as Greenpeace. There is an inner discipline and self sacrifice.
3) The path of the Prophet: One can have power but also have humility to not abuse the power.
Earth qualities can involve conserving, guarding, control, patience, perseverance and thoroughness. For instance, do you have the patience to see a goal through to the end and persevere? Do you tend to cut corners and often fail to have the thoroughness to maintain energy levels? Can you protect your idea or goal from other people’s negativity?
Water qualities involve the ability to sacrifice, engage with creativity and emotion (love). These qualities are crucial in seeing your goal through.
Fire qualities include having hope, faith, courage, independence, power, self-confidence and dedication. These qualities help develop your initial idea and bring it into reality. You need to engage your fire in order to win others over and to make things happen.
Air qualities include the ability to discriminate and concentrate as well as having the wisdom, clarity and intuition to both set and achieve goals.What are my strengths and weaknesses? Richard Branson is apparently very good at knowing what he does not do well. He will delegate those things and stick to what he knows best.
we might all have these qualities but they are
In transpersonal psychotherapy there is a process of transformation through manifesting qualities. We might all have these qualities but they are invariably hidden, latent or undiscovered. A transpersonal psychotherapist will use integrative tools and techniques and borrow from the Psychodynamic, Humanist and Existential schools in dealing with our psychological wounds and in uncovering potential.
Real power is a balance between your powerful energy and intelligence. Setting a goal was similar to the SMART principles of the GROW model in that your goals need to be achievable, measurable and realistic.
there are not many shoulds in psychotherapy
but here is one here
There are not many shoulds in psychotherapy but our hand-out referred to once you having started upon the path to your goal, you must attain it. The hand-out also stated that we should not change goals until they are finished, otherwise it would represent an incomplete Gestalt. Leaving a goal unfinished is damaging to the psyche whereas accomplishing a goal gives you power and confidence.
The process of accomplishment is always more important than in actually achieving the goal. Our nature influences our goals. Do you know yourself? Our accomplishments are largely a reflection of how we feel about ourselves. We are far more capable than we imagine. The goal is psychotherapy, after all, is to accomplish mastery, to become the person we can really be.
to know our old negative life scripts is to free up choices and give us freedom
Where do we trip ourselves up? Where is the limiting belief? Have we located our saboteur? To know our old negative life scripts is to free up choices in the present and give us freedom. Our old psychological wounds need healing, just like scar tissue needs healing.
I got in touch with my saboteur through meditation and reflection in my workshop and I was given the above image (which I drew badly). The remedy for recovery is consciousness. The word recovery comes from the old latin word recupaire, meaning to recuperate and to regain consciousness
The tools and techniques on the planning and the execution of the goal were akin to the guidelines as set out in any coaching text book and echoed the thoughts of any personal development coach such as Brian Tracy or Tony Robins. Examples would be the need for proper planning, action, self discipline, time management, self discrimination and self confidence. There were also elements of NLP in imagining and dealing with limiting beliefs.
Where the material differed was in the spiritual aspect of goal setting and in where goals can find us, rather than in us setting the goals. What is our divine journey? Where have we set goals that differed from our life scripts? What makes someone like a highly paid banker decide to quit and work instead with kids, for a fraction of their old salary? Or make a sibling choose a different career from the career which the family have chosen for centuries? These examples might be evidence of people getting in touch with their essence.
I managed to make an achievable realistic goal to be met by November 2013. So, I am off to start the process …….
See here for a list of future events. Attending a course like this would offer the opportunity to explore whether the CCPE could be the place for you to study, or merely an opportunity for you to work on something purely from a personal development point of view.
In this interview I chat to Judy Pascoe, novelist and psychotherapist. Judy was born and brought up in Australia. During the writing of her novel Our Father Who Art in the Tree she drew heavily on the power of the Australia landscape to infuse the story with place. Judy talks about how her novel was turned into a film called the Tree.
Judy trained to be a transpersonal psychotherapist at CCPE in London and explains in the interview her journey in transpersonal psychotherapy.
Holiday time finds me reading books which I had failed to read throughout the year, such as I’m OK you’re OK as well as books which I want to read out of pure interest. I also find myself reflecting on the last two years as I pass the mid point in my training. I recall what tutors said on the opening evening of the course. They said that we as students would develop as counsellors in our own unique way throughout our time at the Centre. There was not a CCPE way to developing as a therapist but that we would grow in our own individual way and find our own truth. I am reminded of this as I write.
As a result I find that I ask myself what is my way? Have I read enough? What is my approach to counselling and psychotherapy? What does it mean for me to be an integrative psychotherapist? These are questions that will be perhaps a constant line of questioning throughout my journey as a therapist.
My second year at CCPE has been a time when I have revisited early life issues and experiences. Indeed, Rosemary Cowan  points out that the developmental model that CCPE suggested was very helpful to her. She notes that trainees in the first year were likened to wide-eyed, enthusiastic primary school children; in the second year, like pre-teens, they gain confidence and independence but may also be ‘know-alls’ who overstretch themselves; in the third year they reach the rebellious, argumentative, difficult teenager stage; in the fourth year, with increased maturity and stability, they become more rounded, finished characters. I am not sure where I fit in with this model but it is an interesting theory.
I became more conscious of the emotional effects of group-work
I learned a lot about my early childhood experiences and how I act in groups following 16 weeks of group process. Families are, after all, our first blueprint for how we act in groups. It became evident to me that my early experiences were constellating in my life as an adult. I like what Bion  said about experiential groups. When under attack it is far more beneficial to one’s own learning process to try to observe that one is being attacked, and take in what that experience really feels like, rather than reacting to the source of the attack.
My placement gave me an insight into the limitations of psychotherapy.
I had been familiar with Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) before the start of my placement through my lectures and my own prior knowledge. However, I attended a team meeting in a sexual behaviour unit in a forensics unit and learned about the Dialectical behaviour therapy treatment programme. It was welcome to see that Zen techniques have been incorporated into the treatment models, even in the NHS.
My placement gave me an insight into the limitations of psychotherapy. Some patients are so ill they lack the capacity for insight and a pharmacological treatment plan is critical for their recovery. I believe we need to proceed with great caution when working with clients with psychotic conditions as there is often an absence of a healthy ego.
Gestalt Psychotherapy proved to be one of the most powerful components of the course so far
I have enjoyed the second year lectures starting off with short term therapy. I found the lecture on short term therapy to be very helpful from a practical point of view given that I see clients for an initial period of six weeks at Help Counselling. One or two lectures (though thankfully the minority) were uninspiring and at times I wondered whether we were really on a postgraduate level course given the poor quality of discourse in the room.
We had a three day weekend on Gestalt Psychotherapy, which for me, proved to be one of the most powerful components of the course so far. The word gestalt is used to describe a phenomenon/concept in which the ‘whole’ is considered as greater than the sum total of all its parts. I found the empty chair technique to be a good technique for dialoguing with absent parents, friends or colleague, dealing with unfinished business.
I believe that in psychotherapy clients make theory rather than theory making therapy. I need, therefore, to remain open-minded and use early life theory as a map which might be helpful in the navigation rather than as a set of rules. Pattern recognition is essential to good therapy. The primary difference between talking to our friends or Aunt Dorris is that counsellors are trained to look for patterns.
I believe that transpersonal psychotherapy is not alone in encompassing spirituality into treatment. Indeed, other modalities allow for the spiritual in their therapeutic approach but transpersonal psychotherapy actively involves the spiritual element in the client work.
Evaluate the relevance of elements typology to transpersonal integrative psychotherapy
The Elements model has a balanced view of personality. Whereas Jung believed we have a type, the elements model indicates that whilst we might have a particular orientation, we can develop other parts for a more balanced type. In some areas of our life, we are extroverted but introverted in other areas. The Elements model has 3 positions: expressive, receptive balanced, therefore, comprising twelve types in all, master, prophet and saint. However, no one is a pure type.
1. air (expressive, receptive, balanced)
2. fire (expressive, receptive, balanced)
3. water (expressive, receptive, balanced)
4. earth (expressive, receptive, balanced)
In this model expressive qualities are similar to the extroverted type, the more apparent, active dimension of the element and are connected with the path of the Master who overcomes limitation. The receptive dimension, on the other hand, is more inner, and therefore more introverted and subtle and is associated with the path of the Saint who consciously surrenders to the Divine Will. The middle ground of balance is the path of the Prophet who shows wisdom and discrimination to balance the two other paths. In this model the twelve groups of qualities are then associated with an archetype that is the ideal for each.
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. If we think of a garden, our personality is what we plant in the garden, the trees and the shrubbery. Character is defined by how we tender the garden. Attending to a fertile soil in the garden when there is abundant sunlight and temperate climate is very different to attending to a stony garden in the west of Ireland. In transpersonal therapy we create the fertile soil, the inner marriage with our inner selves. We can find the voice for the client or mirror a desire for the client.
Through the alchemy of transformation I can uncover a lot of my negative past or my shadow in the nigredo stage, similar to undertaking personal inventory work, and through to a brighter stage of albedo. Citrinas is largely unconscious and rubedo is an emerging new life. I have spent most of life struggling in nigredo and flipping between one addiction to another. I have received glimpses of albedo through therapy and meditation but sometimes it can be fleeting and any attempts at acquiring serenity can feel like pushing water uphill. For me, personal transformation is predicated on the willingness to “let go”. How can I achieve this if I am nursing unhealthy fantasies and active addictions? I do not have much experience of mastering. In my meditation I can feel great resistance as my ego defences are very solid. Mastering for me would represent being able to sit with my feelings and not have some manic activity consuming my attention. My own personal therapy is a journey of letting go, acquiring a new rhythm, keeping an open mind, trusting the process and developing new layers of honesty with my therapist.
Freedom in the elements model is when we are free of our history. We no longer react in the instance but can provide a considered response as the soul has its own journey.
For the elements model I like to think of the analogy of a balloon. A balloon when full of ‘air’ and ‘fire’ will rise and be up in the clouds before very long. I can be very ‘intellectual’ and be powered by researching and pontificating economic ideas whilst I fail to change the light bulb in my house. This is further evidenced by my wife asking me to pick up some bread or milk from the shop or her jacket from the dry cleaners. In spite of having the day to myself I will invariably have run out of time to do the basic housekeeping jobs in hand. However, when ‘water’ and ‘earth’ is added to the balloon there is a very different effect. Through meditation or therapy sessions, I realise that my ‘air’ element is distorted. I therefore feel the need to walk in green surroundings taking in the fresh air and I notice my breathing becoming more relaxed and whole. I often take myself to Richmond Hill overlooking the river Thames (a scene which Turner made famous) and begin to get a sense of being “in the now.” My receptive ‘earth’ and ‘water’ qualities are accessed and I then feel less compelled to intellectualise or to argue but rather to “just be” and to take in the smells and the colours. It doesn’t always work. Sometimes I am at this serene place and yet am in distorted ‘fire’. I am looking to argue and fight with other road users en route, for instance, if I felt I was cut up whilst cycling. This is when ‘fire’ can be a liability. Or I may be so wrapped up in my own head that I fail to appreciate the colours and the beauty and completely misswhat is beautiful and, therefore, suffer from too much ‘air.’
In the CCPE weekend groups, we observed in group work the elements at play in walking. It was intriguing to note that some walked with so much air they were up in the clouds and ran the risk of walking into things. Others walked with lots of fire and were very off putting in their stance. I have since used the observations in coffee bars whilst observing people come and go. This is useful when seeing clients since body language can be another indicator of what is happening at an unconscious level. I believe that our job as transpersonal therapists is to make conscious the unconscious. Observing body language can be an essential part of our basic toolkit.
Critique of elements
Critics of the elements model suggest that those with borderlinepersonality or psychotic symptoms are not appropriate candidates for transpersonal therapy techniques because of the potential for ego defences to be overwhelmed. But these conditions are probably relative contraindicationsat best. However, for Linehan, he used and visualisation with borderline patients in Dialectical Behaviour Therapy and suggested that even patients with fragile or unstable ego functioning can benefit from such work.
The assumption in the elements model is that we carry all elements in ourselves and we adapt and repress others but we can potentially get in touch with all of them. Through the transformation of alchemy in the elements model, we discover harmony in the relationships between all parts.
Ultimately true healing does not happen in the head. It occurs through feeling toned realisations in response to a lived experience. That is why the analytic process, when pursued on an intellectual level, and that includes most self-analysis, is sterile. As we come to understand and appreciate transpersonal experiences and process, we can evaluate other cultures better and learn from their accumulated centuries of transpersonalwisdom. We can, in effect, reclaim what has been called “the Great Tradition,” the sum total of humankind’s cross-cultural religious and philosophical wisdom so that we may better serve our patients.