Transpersonal Psychology

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Editor: Jacqueline L. Longe
Date: 2016
The Gale Encyclopedia of Psychology
From: The Gale Encyclopedia of Psychology(Vol. 2. 3rd ed.)
Publisher: Gale, part of Cengage Group
Document Type: Topic overview
Pages: 2
Content Level: (Level 4)

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Transpersonal Psychology

Transpersonal psychology is a branch of psychology that addresses the spiritual nature of the human being.

All spiritual and mystical traditions make reference to the nature of the human mind and promote Page 1187  |  Top of Articlebehaviors intended to bring about psychological transformation. Transpersonal psychology addresses these teachings and practices and integrates them into the scientific side of psychology.

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Humanistic psychology—
An approach based upon the premise that human beings are innately good; it emphasizes seeking creativity, meaning, and value in human experience.
A branch of psychology that aims to help people create a more cohesive self by fusing different parts of the personality, drawing on the existence of a transpersonal aspect of consciousness.

Transpersonal psychology aims to give the individual a wider perspective and a broader focus on psychological issues, pointing toward a more enduring spiritual reality than the purely personal one. The term refers to a number of psychological approaches, including humanistic psychology and psychosynthesis. Transpersonal psychology was first developed as a separate discipline following a meeting in California in 1967 with leading figures in the world of psychology, including Stanislav Grof (b. 1931–) and Abraham Maslow (1908–1970). The latter was also the pioneer of humanistic psychology.

The transpersonal psychology movement has its origins in the earlier work of the Swiss psychiatrist and psychotherapist Carl Jung (1875–1961) and the American philosopher and psychologist William James (1842–1910), who were both interested in the spiritual aspects of human psychology. James first coined the word transpersonal during a lecture in 1905.

Transpersonal psychology does not use any specific tools or methods. However, meditation, including mindfulness, visualization, and guided imagery may play a role in work that the transpersonal psychotherapist carries out with the client. There is an emphasis upon the relationship between the therapist and the client, and the therapist is seen as a facilitator rather than an expert. The therapist's role is to reflect the client's experience, enabling understanding of the client's own truth and process as well as realization of true potential.

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Caplan, Mariana. Eyes Wide Open: Cultivating Discernment on the Spiritual Path. Boulder, CO: Sounds True, 2009.

Friedman, Harris L., and Glenn Hartelius. The WileyBlackwell Handbook of Transpersonal Psychology. Chichester, UK: Wiley-Blackwell, 2013.


Battista, John. “A Transpersonal View of Human Development, Psychopathology, and Psychotherapy.” Journal of Transpersonal Research 3, no. 2 (April 2011): 85–96.


Centre for Transpersonal Psychology. “Transpersonal Psychology.” (accessed July 17, 2015).


Behavioral Tech, LLC, 4746 11th Ave. NE, Ste. 102, Seattle, WA, 98105, (206) 675-8588, Fax: (206) 675-8590,, .

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Gale Document Number: GALE|CX3631000777