Spiritual Psychology: A Short Introduction

It’s an undeniable fact that we are in more desperate need of inner peace and satisfaction than ever before. This is where Spiritual Psychology1 comes in. Today human evolution has reached its highest peak, and everything seems to be only at arm’s length.

When we look around us in our society, everything appears normal at the surface, but we face sufferings and pain if we put on a  more discerning lens. All the materialistic possessions that apparently bring fulfillment fail at the very core of their purpose.

Because the ultimate sense of fulfillment that brings tranquility comes from a spiritual awakening.2

 You might be having questions like What does a spiritual psychologist do? What is the spiritual, psychological approach? How is spirituality related to? So, let us go in-depth on Spiritual.

1. Spiritual Psychology: The Meaning of Spiritual

What Does it Mean to Be 'SPIRITUAL'?

The meaning of spiritual is not to pursue the spiritual path. Spiritual or Transpersonal is knowing your inner self at a higher level than individualistic ideas or experiences. It aims for a self beyond the ego. It is about the mind’s spiritual healing.

The study embraces a broader aspect of human life, and its purpose is to achieve what we call true inner peace.

While there are many meanings and definitions of spiritual or transpersonal3, The meaning of psyche is the human mind, soul, and spirit. If we look up the literary meaning of the word ‘,’ it is studying the human mind. The American Psychological Association has defined it as the study of mind and behavior. So here is the study of the psyche. We have overlooked the soul and spirit. 

Now we come across an innovative concept-Spiritual, a blend of spirituality. Spiritual or transpersonal is a deeper dimension than conventional. Conventional studies and works on the physical, mental, and emotional aspects of a human being.

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Image by Michael from Pixabay

This approach does not fully satisfy the true essence and purpose of healing. Spiritual or transpersonal has added a new aspect which is the authentic self. It means the very nature of a person, his ideas, beliefs, and the set of rules a person has decided concerning life in general.

When there is something wrong churning at an individual’s core, working on the outer physical, mental, and emotional aspects cannot heal a person completely. 

A person’s authentic aspect defines a person’s nature and stays the same from the cradle to the grave, until and unless a person meets someone who can touch this inner mantle of the human soul and brings in the light of Love and true self-acceptance. Hence an ideal program covers all four levels and heals a person inside out. Such a person is ready to face life challenges with a strengthened emotional and cognitive version of himself.

Without working on this fourth dimension, the very concept stays incomplete and hollow.

2. Difference Between Spiritual And Conventional

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Photo by Ashley Batz on Unsplash

Spiritual or transpersonal is an expansion of conventional. Conventional focuses on your physical actions, your mental actions, and your emotional actions. Physical actions mean what actions you pursue because of your mind. Your actions, steps, and doings because of your mind fall under this.

Your mental actions mean what you believe in, what are your principles of life, what are your beliefs, your ideas, your ethics, your moral values, and your ability to differentiate between good and bad, between doable and not doable, between right and wrong falls under your mental actions. Your emotional actions come from your emotions towards something, towards someone, towards life, which means all of your emotions towards everything, expressed or suppressed, falls under your emotional actions. Conventional addresses these 3 levels. 

Now how Spiritual or transpersonal is different than conventional: Spiritual addresses these 3 levels, but there is another level that spiritual or transpersonal addresses, but conventional doesn’t. It is The authentication of one’s self. It means who you are at the deepest core of your mind, soul, and spirit. This is the level that is overlooked by conventional.

Who you really are at your deepest core means getting over-dependence on the world. It talked about the ability to have self-happiness, self-compassion, peace of mind, and connection with the universe. When you are suffering from anxiety issues or depression, via conventional, you will be treated by rectifying your physical actions, rectifying and developing mental actions and beliefs, rectifying your emotions and feeling for others, and it overlooks the peace beyond the emotion, happiness beyond any feel-good activity or happiness beyond and feel-good emotion, It overlooks the self-compassion. 

3. Spiritual Psychology: How Did Spirituality Originate 

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Photo by Greg Rakozy on Unsplash

Carl Jung, the Swiss psychiatrist who established analytical, started the conceptual process that led to today’s Spiritual or transpersonal.

In the early twentieth century, Jung was a protégé of Sigmund Freud; nevertheless, when Jung developed his work with the “collective unconscious,” he and Freud parted ways. Roberto Assagioli, the inventor of the psychosynthesis technique, felt Freud’s theories to be restricted as well. According to Sigmund Freud, humans perceive life on three levels: physical, cerebral, and emotional. The actual self-level, which Jung and Assagioli identified as a fourth level, was recognized for the first time by Jung and Assagioli.

4. The Need For Spiritual Psychology

What is the purpose of spirituality by Gauranga Das

From the very start, when we are young, the principle of striving for more is ingrained in us.

We have been taught to study more, work more, earn more, to achieve more. We are so caught up in the process that we fail to identify our true selves and the requirement of our souls to achieve true peace and a sense of contentment. And in some other times in the journey of life, we often get tangled up in toxic relationships which leave us scarred for a lifetime. When a person is a victim of substance abuse, conventional can’t heal it completely. It needs spiritual healing too. 

Hence various factors are because a person, despite having everything, may feel hollow from within.

A void that never gets filled, a scar that never gets healed. Hence, spirituality comes to the rescue. 

Spiritual is about enlightenment, self-awareness, and attaining a sense of contentment that comes from the knowledge of the transcendent self.

5. The Role of Spiritual Psychologists

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Image by Dave G Morgan from Pixabay

Spiritual psychologists use spirituality in their models to treat patients and heal their damaged souls. These psychologists help the patients navigate their own beliefs and perceptions of life and various events that a person experiences.

They help them recognize the barriers that hold them from attaining the sense of happiness they seek. And provide them with alternate beliefs to consider and eliminate all the toxic ideas that had been unintentionally imbibed in their attitudes.

A spiritual psychologist and life provide an altered state of consciousness using meditation and help the person overcome his own demons and make him feel good about his authentic self and achieve a divine experience.

The process of internal transformation may require a lot of courage and discipline. Some recommend going through courses like the vacation bible curriculum.

To get over your past, you may have to bare your soul and face the same pain and suffering that you had buried somewhere deep. But which does not fail to surface up in some form or the other. So to get done with it once and for all would have to dig deep into your soul.

The famous Sufi of all times, Jalaluddin Rumi, has very aptly said:

When someone beats a rug,

The blows are not against the rug,

But against the dust in it.

They cannot do more justice to what a person may have to attain a complete inner transformation and face life with a new spirit.

6. Religion And Spirituality 

and religion are two fundamental aspects of any civilization. Religion has always shown a substantial impact on human cultures and our mindsets.

For many, religion is an inseparable part of their lives and a critical attribute shaping their lifestyles and beliefs.

A person finds peace in faith and hones in generosity and altruism when seeking spirituality. There have been notable contributions from ascetics and religious philosophers over some time.

The fact is that spirituality is something that infuses religion.

William James, an American philosopher, and psychologist have earned the title of ‘Father of modern psychology. He was strongly inclined toward religion. According to him, religion “keeps religion in connection with the rest of the .”

Hence spirituality focuses on proposing religious principles while firmly tying them to scientific language. 

So modern spiritual uses a person’s religious sentiments in attaining a peaceful and tranquil environment in which they can further carry out psychotherapy and help a person get rid of their emotional baggage and fix their wounded souls.

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Photo by Evie S. on Unsplash

Without, only meditation or other religious rituals, a complete mental and emotional treatment is impossible.

To overcome the trauma which has caused the spiritual crises in the first place, it is necessary to bring together spirituality. We have an excellent quote from the famous philosopher Pierre Teilhard de Chardin.

“We are not human beings having a spiritual experience.

We are spiritual beings having a human experience.”

This can summarize the entire concept of spirituality.

When we manage to attain that ultimate level of self-awakening, we can connect with everything around us, be it nature or humans. We can feel pain, compassion, and love for everything around us while letting go of our own sufferings and the elements that cause distress and sorrow.

7. Graduate Programs for Spiritual Psychologists

Spiritual psychologists need to study their cases with scientific knowledge and a spiritual approach. They constantly walk on eggshells as they deal with individuals with very fragile emotional and mental states. Apart from years of studying, they also need experience in their respective fields. They are involved in scientific research and apply it in their daily practices.

A person who would want to pursue a career in spirituality first needs to earn a bachelor’s degree.  However, there are various courses that a person needs to take up, like developmental, clinical, transpersonal, creative consciousness, and counseling.

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Image by Domenico Farone from Pixabay

To practice spirituality, a person earns a master’s degree or a doctorate and needs to study theology and religion. Spiritual psychologists carry out imminent research, observation, and analysis task. They serve in various sectors depending upon the nature of their specialized field.

Many professionals have private clinics, and many serve in government organizations like rehabilitation centers, hospitals, and care organizations.

They serve human society either at individual levels like clinical psychologists. At the same time, they are working for human welfare on a much larger platform in developmental, rehabilitation, social, etc.

Spiritual today has become a massive scope. It is constantly changing lives, guiding teenagers, counseling families, and treating chronic diseases like schizophrenia, depression, and other mental-related ailments.

Spiritual psychologists can serve in government agencies and primary centers, motivating people to make healthy choices and take those that do not lead to self-destruction and collapsing families.

Furthermore, when we look at a broader spectrum range, communities like the LGBTQ+ and other minorities sometimes need special treatment and attention. Here also, the spiritual psychologists have a role to play.

Spiritual is all about mental and overall well-being, and depression is the main culprit here.

8. Conclusion

Spiritual psychology is a field that explores the intersection of spirituality and psychology, seeking to understand how spiritual beliefs, practices, and experiences can impact an individual’s psychological well-being, personal growth, and overall mental health. It recognizes that spiritual and religious beliefs can play a significant role in shaping a person’s identity, values, and sense of purpose, which in turn can influence their emotional and psychological state.

It’s important to note that spiritual psychology can vary greatly depending on cultural, religious, and philosophical perspectives. Some individuals may integrate their spiritual beliefs into their therapeutic journey, while others may prefer a more secular approach to psychology.

FAQs

1.  Is spiritual psychology religious?

A. While spiritual psychology can incorporate religious beliefs, it is not inherently religious. It encompasses a wide range of spiritual and philosophical perspectives, including those that are not tied to any specific religion. It emphasizes the personal experience of spirituality and its impact on mental and emotional well-being.

2. Can spiritual psychology be used in therapy?

A. Yes, many therapists integrate spiritual psychology principles into their therapeutic approaches, depending on the client’s beliefs and preferences. Spiritual psychology can provide additional tools for addressing issues such as existential concerns, identity crises, and finding meaning in life.

3. Is spiritual psychology the same as religious counseling?

A. No, spiritual psychology is broader than religious counseling. While both may involve discussions of spirituality, religious counseling is typically tied to specific religious traditions and may focus more on matters of faith and doctrine. Spiritual psychology encompasses a wider range of beliefs and practices.

Read more

  1. Miovic, Michael. “An introduction to spiritual psychology: Overview of the literature, east and west.” Harvard review of psychiatry 12.2 (2004): 105-115. ↩︎
  2. Taylor, Steve. The leap: The psychology of spiritual awakening. New World Library, 2017. ↩︎
  3. Calijornia, Inine. “On transpersonal definitions.” The Journal 25.2 (1993): 199. ↩︎

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