Note: I use the terms “counselling” and “therapy” interchangeably throughout this website.
Transpersonal therapists work under a larger umbrella than many other therapists. We have a more varied tool box with which to work from, as we are trained in spiritual counselling as well as modern psychological interventions. It really is the best of both worlds.
Each model has its own theory of human development and its own way of working. Some practitioners, like me, take an eclectic approach, which means that we draw on elements from a variety of different models when working with our clients.
Some styles of counselling are “directive” (suggesting courses of action and perhaps giving homework exercises), and others are “non-directive” (where the client takes the lead in what’s discussed). My work falls into the “non-directive” category.
Below is a summary of the different therapy models I draw from. These represent the main therapeutic orientations taught in my three-year Clearmind International Transpersonal Counselling Program.
This is an integrative and holistic approach that utilizes creative imagination. It assumes a spiritual dimension to life and human nature. It also presupposes the interconnectedness of all beings with a higher spiritual power, and specifically addresses the bridge between the two.
Transpersonal counselling emphasizes personal empowerment. It takes account of the client’s past experiences, but also looks to the future and what is likely to unfold for them, the challenges they may face, and the qualities that need to emerge to meet those challenges.
The basic belief is that whatever the hardships of human experience, the core essence — or soul — remains undamaged. Unlike most forms of psychotherapy that concentrate on improving mental health, transpersonal therapy takes a more holistic approach, addressing mental, physical, social, emotional, creative, and intellectual needs, with an emphasis on the role of a healthy spirit in healing.
To facilitate healing and growth, transpersonal therapy places great emphasis on honesty, open-mindedness, and self-awareness on the part of the therapist as well as the client.
This approach emphasizes a person’s capacity to make rational choices and develop to their maximum potential. Concern and respect for others are also important themes.
Three types of humanistic therapy are especially influential: person-centered therapy, Gestalt therapy, and existential therapy:
Person-centered (or client-centered) counselling
This is based on the principle that the counsellor provides three core conditions (or essential attributes) that are, in themselves, therapeutic:
- Empathy (the ability to imagine oneself in another person’s position)
- Unconditional positive regard (warm positive feelings, regardless of the person’s behaviour)
- Congruence (honesty and openness)
The counsellor uses the relationship with the client as a means of healing and change. The counsellor provides little authority or direction. Instead, they offer subtle guidance on an individual’s life or mental illness, and encourage the client to take control of their future.
Gestalt therapy emphasizes personal responsibility and helps clients focus on the present. It also stresses the development of the therapist-client relationship, the social context of the client’s life, awareness, attitudes and direct feelings and perceptions rather than interpretations.
Gestalt therapy encourages people to have an active awareness of their present situation and also incorporates communication that goes beyond words. A key part of Gestalt counselling is the dramatization, or acting out, of important conflicts in a person’s life.
This could involve using two or more chairs, for instance, so that they can physically take up different positions to represent different aspects of themselves.
Existential psychotherapy is based on the model of human nature and experience developed by the existential tradition of European philosophy. It focuses on concepts that are universally applicable to human existence including death, freedom, responsibility, and the meaning of life.
Many existential therapists also make use of basic skills like empathic reflection, Socratic questioning, and active listening. Some may also draw on a wide range of techniques derived from other therapies such as psychoanalysis, Cognitive-behavioural therapy, person-centered, somatic, and Gestalt therapy.
Cognitive-behavioural Therapy (CBT)
CBT is a directive model, concerned with the way people’s beliefs about themselves shape how they interpret experiences. The objective is to change self-defeating or irrational beliefs and behaviours by altering negative ways of thinking.
Clients learn to monitor their emotional upsets and what triggers them, to identify self-defeating thoughts, to see the connections between their beliefs, feelings and behaviour, to look at the evidence for and against these thoughts and beliefs, and to think in a way that is more realistic and less negative.
The counsellor usually gives the client tasks or homework to do between sessions. This could mean recording thoughts and feelings or doing something that tests out a basic assumption about themselves. This might mean, for instance, going shopping when their fear is that they may panic.
Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT)
Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) is a modified form of cognitive therapy that incorporates mindfulness practices such as meditation and breathing exercises.
Family systems therapy
Family systems therapy is a form of psychotherapy that helps individuals resolve their problems in the context of their family units, where many issues are likely to begin. Each family member works together with the others to better understand their group dynamic and how their individual actions affect each other and the family unit as a whole.
One of the most important premises of family systems therapy is that what happens to one member of a family happens to everyone in the family. Many psychological issues begin early in life and stem from relationships within the family of origin, or the family one grows up in, even though these issues often surface later on in life.
Families in conflict, as well as couples and individuals with issues and concerns related to their families of origin, can benefit from family systems therapy.
Attachment-based therapy is a process-oriented form of psychological counselling. The client-therapist relationship is based on developing or rebuilding trust and centers on expressing emotions.
An attachment-based approach to therapy looks at the connection between an infant’s early attachment experiences with primary caregivers, usually with parents, and the infant’s ability to develop normally and ultimately form healthy emotional and physical relationships as an adult.
Attachment-based therapy aims to build or rebuild a trusting, supportive relationship that will help prevent or treat anxiety or depression.
Psychodrama is an action method, in which clients use spontaneous dramatization, role playing, and dramatic self-presentation to investigate and gain insight into their lives.
Accelerated Experiential Dynamic Psychotherapy (AEDP)
AEDP encourages people to develop a secure attachment so they can physically experience and process difficult emotions. In this approach, the therapist establishes a safe, supportive relationship with the client, and that relationship provides the environment needed for change to occur.
Therapists who practice somatic body psychotherapy believe a person’s inner feelings impact their physical form. They use mind-body exercises to release pent-up trauma from the mind and the body. By releasing these bodily sensations, a therapist works towards healing trauma from the inside out with this form of trauma therapy.
Somatic experiencing therapy is a specific approach to somatic therapy and is based on the idea that traumatic experiences cause dysfunction in a person’s nervous system and prevent them from processing the experience.
The goal of somatic experiencing therapy, therefore, is to help an individual notice physical sensations stemming from their mental health issues and use that awareness to work through painful feelings and emotions. This kind of physical sensation can be in the form of chronic pain and other unpleasant symptoms.
This is based on the idea that past experiences have a bearing on experiences and feelings in the present, and that important relationships, perhaps from early childhood, may be replayed with other people later in life.
It translates the principles and insights of psychoanalysis and psychoanalytic psychotherapy into once-a-week counselling.
The counsellor usually aims to be as neutral a figure as possible, giving little information about him or herself, making it more likely that important relationships (past or present) will be reflected in the relationship between the client and the counsellor.
This relationship is therefore an important source of insight for both parties and helps the client to work through their difficulties. Developing a trusting and reliable relationship with the counsellor is essential for this work.
If you’ve tried to solve your problems on your own and you’re starting to realize that maybe, just maybe, you need outside support, I’m glad you’re here.
Asking for help can be hard, but it’s a great first step toward lasting change.
I will meet you with flexibility, adapting my approach to your unique circumstances. I will help you become who you authentically are, and will greet you with acceptance, knowing that diversity is what makes human beings beautiful.
I see vulnerability as the window to connection and will hold your vulnerability with care and compassion. I take confidentiality seriously and have processes in place to guarantee your privacy.
Your next step: Schedule a free session with me to see how it goes. I look forward to meeting you!