Psychosynthesis

Psychosynthesis

Focus on a woman's hands, working with beadsPsychosynthesis is a therapeutic approach that focuses on personal growth and development. Practitioners of psychosynthesis believe individuals tend to synthesize various aspects of the self to become more evolved and self-actualized. This method of therapy can be viewed as a transpersonal approach because it integrates many aspects of the human experience, including spiritual, emotional, cognitive, and physical aspects. 

Individuals seeking therapy to learn about themselves or feel more connected with their environment may benefit from psychosynthesis. Those with existential concerns may also find this form of therapy useful. 

History and Development of Psychosynthesis

Psychosynthesis was developed by Italian psychiatrist Roberto Assagioli in the early 1900s. Assagioli was interested in psychoanalysis and among the first to bring Freud’s theories to Italy. However, Assagioli felt Freud neglected some important aspects of the human experience and advocated for a more inclusive, holistic perspective on humanity.

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The creation of psychosynthesis was influenced by Assagioli’s interest in yoga, philosophy, theology, and the work of Carl Jung. He focused on the individual’s spiritual experience and how various aspects of the self attempt to reach harmony. Assagioli believed a person’s primary task is to find a sense of completeness within the self and a connection to a larger whole, such as one’s community or the world. 

Theory and Principles

There are a few core ideas crucial to psychosynthesis, and the first is the idea of disidentification. When a person disidentifies, they can move freely among different thoughts, feelings, and behaviors rather than being stuck in one way of existing. Psychosynthesis suggests that empathy provides a path to disidentification. According to psychosynthesis, when an individual is fully seen and understood by another, they can authentically explore their emotional experience and be themselves without constraint or limitation. 

Another core concept of psychosynthesis is the idea of the self. Assagioli believed individuals can explore their personal experience as it becomes conscious through introspection, giving them a sense of identity. He also theorized that to make changes and avoid unconscious repetition, an individual must use their will. The will provides the capacity to make conscious choices about where to direct awareness and how to act. 

The concept of synthesis is another important component of psychosynthesis. Assagioli theorized that people are not unified wholes but are instead made up of various subpersonalities. Synthesis, then, is a process in which these subpersonalities become a larger, organic whole. While the subpersonalities may not always exist in perfect harmony, synthesis involves finding a way to empathically relate to each aspect of the self. 

While Freud focused on the unconscious, Assagioli was interested in other levels of consciousness, such as the superconscious, another key aspect of psychosynthesis. The superconscious is described as a higher level of consciousness that is not directly accessed but inferred from moments of peak experiences. Connecting with the superconscious is said to involve a profound moment when an individual feels both connected to the world around them and as if they have glimpsed the deeper meaning of life. 

What Is a Psychosynthesis Session Like?

At a basic level, psychosynthesis is a type of talk therapy. Like psychoanalysis, it involves focus on introspection and exploration of the unconscious. Introspection, or empathic self-exploration, is highly encouraged in psychosynthesis, as it allows a person to consciously explore various aspects of the self in order to increase insight and allow for growth and development.

Guided imagery, symbolic artwork, and journaling might all be used to help an individual become more introspective. Other techniques that can be used in psychosynthesis include meditation, gestalt techniques, and encouraging creativity. People who practice psychosynthesis believe nearly any method that assists an individual in their personal evolvement is useful.

How Can Psychosynthesis Help? 

Like psychoanalysis, psychosynthesis is a broad theory of psychology, designed to help with a wide range of issues and with human development in general. Assagioli believed psychosynthesis could effectively treat neuroses, trauma, anxiety, and depression. As this method of therapy is focused on growth and development, it may also be particularly useful for individuals who have difficulty understanding themselves or finding meaning and purpose in their lives.

The use of psychosynthesis can extend beyond just therapy and mental health. The core concepts of psychosynthesis, including personal growth and connection between self and others, have been used in education, medicine, and business. 

Training and Certification

Training in psychosythesis typically involves attending training workshops, either in person or online. There are various levels of training that can be pursued, from basic to advanced. To qualify for advanced levels of training, people must typically have an advanced degree in counseling or a psychology-related field. Some who train in psychosynthesis may qualify for certification as a psychosynthesis life coach. Training is available both in the United States and internationally. 

Concerns and Limitations

According to Assagioli, the greatest limitation of psychosynthesis is that it is too comprehensive and too accepting of all ideas. To that end, psychosynthesis has been criticized for becoming a collection of ideas and techniques so broad it lacks any identity of its own. Because psychosynthesis involves such a wide variety of methods, it may be difficult to ensure practitioners of this type of therapy adequately follow its principles. 

References:

  1. Firman, J., & Gila, A. (2007). Assagioli’s seven core concepts for psychosynthesis training. Retrieved from http://www.humanova.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/SevenCoreConcepts.pdf
  2. Lacey, K. P. (2006). Introduction to psychosynthesis and its application in psychotherapy. American Counseling Association. Retrieved from https://www.counseling.org/Resources/Library/VISTAS/vistas06_online-only/Lacey.pdf
  3. Training overview. (n.d.). The Institute of Psychosynthesis. Retrieved from https://www.psychosynthesis.org/training-programmes/training-overview/
  4. What is psychosynthesis? (n.d.). Institute of Psychosynthesis. Retrieved from https://www.psychosynthesis.org/about/what-is-psychosynthesis/
  5. What is psychosynthesis. (n.d.). Psychosynthesis Trust. Retrieved from https://psychosynthesistrust.org.uk/about-psychosynthesis-trust/what-is-psychosynthesis/
  6. What is psychosynthesis? (2011). The Synthesis Center. Retrieved from https://www.synthesiscenter.org/ps.htm

 

Last updated: 11-27-2017

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