Psychosynthesis is a therapeutic approach that derives from psychoanalysis. It was developed in the early 20th century by Italian psychiatrist, Roberto Assagioli, who unlike Freud believed in a more inclusive concept of humanity - one that integrated spiritual as well psychological elements. Psychosynthesis explores and supports the ways in which people harmonise various aspects of their personal self in order to grow and develop.
A key assumption of psychosynthesis is that every human being has a vast potential for personal growth - a natural tendency to synthesise all aspects of their being to become the fullest realisation of themselves. Psychosynthesis is a conscious attempt to cooperate with this natural process of personal development in order to foster awareness, self-healing, and a greater connection to the ever-changing nature of human life.
The therapeutic framework of psychosynthesis can help a wide range of individuals to overcome life challenges. Therapists in psychosynthesis counselling work to establish a specific relationship with their clients and will draw on a range of diverse techniques to guide them through the process of self-actualisation and self-realisation. This forms an important part of therapy as it helps clients to discover a higher, spiritual level of consciousness that will facilitate positive changes and personal growth.
Theories of psychosynthesis
The practice of psychosynthesis is based on the idea that every person only uses a small part of their potential and that we are all capable of leading fulfilling lives. In order to uncover a person's inner wisdom, psychosynthesis counselling will focus on the exploration of feelings, thoughts, sensations and spirit in order to uncover any internal conflicts and blocks. By working through these challenges, clients can rediscover inner resources and strengths, which will help to aid personal growth and development. This process is enhanced when a client learns to cooperate, and feels confident accessing every part of their being - letting their inner self work freely.
Another core theoretical assumption of psychosynthesis is the belief that out of every crisis or challenge, something new is seeking to emerge that will lead us on to the path of growth and transformation. Psychosynthesis therapists believe that while we cannot always control what comes our way, we do have a choice about how we respond and relate to these events. They aim to help clients find a new sense of direction that provides a source of empowerment even after periods of suffering.
In order to successfully help clients through this process, a psychosynthesis therapist must establish an authentic, safe and trusting relationship setting. Rather than giving advice, they will aim to assist and guide their client through exploration and discovery - helping them to find their own solutions to the particular challenges they are faced with. A transpersonal context may also be fostered, so that a client can project their feelings for a significant other onto the therapist in order to illuminate and give meaning to certain issues. This paves the way for inspiration and creativity towards a brighter future.
How does psychosynthesis work?
The overall process of psychosynthesis can be divided into two stages: personal and transpersonal. The personal stage involves the healing and integration of aspects of the personality and the personal self through the process of self-actualisation. This means the client is able to identify and establish control over these aspects of their being, which enables them to attain a higher level of functioning in terms of their work, relationships and other areas of life that are meaningful to them.
The second stage - transpersonal psychosynthesis - involves the self-realisation part of therapy, in which the client establishes contact with their deepest callings and desired goals in life. By achieving alignment with the transpersonal self, the client can access their inner guidance and wisdom. This enables them to discover enhanced creativity, a high level of spirituality, and an expanded state of consciousness.
Ultimately, these stages are designed to help clients discover the deep core of who they really are. By building and expanding on a client's personal qualities, their spirituality and self-development, psychosynthesis can help them to utilise their free will and inner resources to remove inner conflicts and create a sense of balance and harmony in their lives.
Driving this process forward is a diverse range of techniques drawn from other therapeutic approaches. These are tailored to a client's individual needs, existential situation, psychological type, desired future goals and path of development. Therapists will also ensure the techniques used will address the client as a whole - helping them to identify, understand, and accept each layer of their inner selves, as one-by-one they are revealed.
Within the psychosynthesis framework, methods most commonly used will include:
- gestalt therapy
- active dialogue and analysis
- guided imagery
- assertive training
- art therapy
- journal writing
- family therapy
- breathing exercises.
How psychosynthesis could help
This form of therapy has several strengths - including the provision of a varied range of practical methods that ensure access to, and recognition of, a deeper part of the human self. It ensures that personal growth and development happens according to a client's inner wisdom. Their natural capacity for change and growth that lies deep within is allowed to surface at a steady pace and according to its own pattern.
Furthermore, psychosynthesis addresses all parts of a client's being, which enables them to work through the self-destructive behaviours and conflicts that are hindering their growth, without creating further problems in the process. This makes the therapy hugely beneficial for people suffering from issues such as low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, trauma, PTSD, and work or relationship problems - in essence, anything that is greatly impacting self-worth, well-being and life fulfilment.
Additional benefits of psychosynthesis include:
- Offers insight into how problems can be a catalyst for growth and transformation.
- Provides a toolbox of coping and life skills for further development beyond therapy.
- Helps individuals to rediscover value, meaning and purpose in life.
- Promotes healing from early childhood trauma or abuse.
- Increases self-esteem, self-worth and self-confidence.
- Helps people to become more intuitive and creative.