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The place of Transpersonal Psychology in the pluralistic approach of counselling psychology.

Keogh, Clare (2016). The place of Transpersonal Psychology in the pluralistic approach of counselling psychology.. (Submitted Doctoral thesis, City, University of London)


Background: Relationship is core to academic and psychological psychotherapeutic practice supported and linked by research. The success of the working alliance and psychotherapeutic practice are dependent on the properties of the psychologist, client and the therapeutic relationship, where all facets of the therapeutic relationship including the transpersonal, are integrated to a pluralistic practice. The present research looked at the transpersonal in psychotherapeutic psychology: Psychologists’ perceptions and experiences of the transpersonal and transpersonal psychology in their therapeutic work, and of transpersonal psychotherapeutic teaching while in training.

Methods: ‘Survey monkey’, an online data gathering tool, was used to collect data using a multiple sorting procedure (MSP) based on Kelly’s personal construct theory. MSP was a projective technique and allowed different conceptual styles to be researched. MSP results were analysed and visually illustrated using correspondence analysis; a multidimensional and descriptive graphical technique. Responses to semi-structured open-ended questions were analysed phenomenologically using Clarkson’s seven level model (2002a) and Braun and Clarke’s (2006) thematic analysis. Two phases of data gathering were conducted. The initial phase examined clinicians’ personal perceptions and experiences of the transpersonal, and their experiences of the transpersonal in training and in practice. The second phase, the ’validation of findings study’, gathered feedback and reflections from original participants on the findings of the original study.


Phase 1: 25 participants took part in the study. 70% of participants were interested in transpersonal psychology while 72% were familiar with it. 65% did not receive information on transpersonal psychology while in training as psychologists. Participants’ clinical experience varied between 0-25 years. This was reflected in responses which were influenced by different experiences of trainings at different times, whereby the transpersonal was omitted or included. Experiences of teaching received was both positive and negative. Different discourses and narratives, as well as different levels of awareness and acknowledgement of the transpersonal were identified. MSP accessed conscious and unconscious experiences and perceptions. Responses to the semi-structured open-ended questions included responses of a scientific, rational and normative narrative. Some viewed transpersonal psychology as not scientific, some identified the transpersonal as separate and unique, while others’ viewed both as integrated to clinical practice. A dichotomy and incompatibility of transpersonal psychology with psychology, and between science and the spiritual was presented by some participants.

Phase 2: Validation of findings study: The validation of findings study reinforced findings relating to the identified themes in the original study, and supported an Emerging Theoretical Model of Transpersonal Perceptions, Experience, Practice and Education (henceforward referred to as the emerging theoretical model) as part of a pluralistic approach. Here the interconnected transpersonal themes of the personal experience, experience in training, and use in clinical practice are refined.

Conclusions: Findings suggest participants’ personal experience of the transpersonal in training and in clinical practice influenced responses, awareness, experience and acknowledgement of the transpersonal evident in the results. Considering the functioning of each individual, and the mind/body relationship, especially across the lifespan, many theoretical approaches recognise the complex and important relationship involved in functioning which leads to psychological well-being. Perhaps because transpersonal psychology considers that which functions beyond the ego ,it does not comfortably fit into the rules of research and theory which apply within other fields of psychology. In relation to research, the expectations of scientific validity may not seem to be met by transpersonal psychology, as it does not adhere to a Newtonian/Cartesian approach to research in practice. It mainly takes the form of subjective experience using qualitative research methods and is based in human inquiry, which is also reliable and valid. Results indicate trainings in psychology should place more emphasis on incorporating transpersonal psychology in trainings as an essential facet of an integrated therapeutic relationship.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Departments: Doctoral Theses
School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
Doctoral Theses > School of Arts and Social Sciences Doctoral Theses
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