Manifestations of the human psyche, such as creative imagination, intuition, aspiration, genius, are facts which are as real and important as are the conditioned reflexes,…….. spiritual drives or spiritual urges are as real, basic and fundamental as sexual and aggressive drives; they should not be reduced to sublimation or pathological distortion of the sexual and aggressive components of the personality – although in many neurotic cases such elements are, of course, also present. (Assagioli, 1965)
Roberto Assagioli, the founder of Psychosynthesis and one of the first psychoanalysts in Italy, was a visionary who sowed the seeds of many current ideas and methods in Transpersonal Psychotherapy. If the dialectic between Freud and Jung can be characterised as that of a tension between ego and soul, then Assagioli’s vision was to bring into psychotherapy a third element, that of the spirit. The spiritual domain offers a meta-level frame from within which to understand phenomena which are experienced psychologically, yet which seem to transcend psychological explanation. It is from within this frame that Assagioli suggested a ‘Higher’ or transcendent Self which was a source of inspiration beyond the personal self.
Psychosynthesis brings together different orientations in psychotherapy – Psychoanalysis, Humanistic Psychology and Transpersonal Psychology. In broad terms we can say that these concern themselves with the past, the present and the future and are reflected in Assagioli’s core model which differentiates human consciousness into the Lower, Middle and Higher Unconscious. The Lower which links with psychoanalysis, leads to an analysis of origins, the Middle which links with Humanistic Psychology focuses on the here-and-now and the Higher, linked with Transpersonal Psychology, leads to exploring future potentials. This tripartite differentiation forms the structural basis of Psychosynthesis Psychotherapy. Psychosynthesis is an inclusive psychology rather than a reductive one. Assagioli’s root metaphor was the idea of synthesis, which begins from the premise that we are essentially whole in our nature – not good or perfect but whole. Whatever fragmentation, alienation and splitting we have suffered in order to psychologically survive, the spiritual self is calling us towards our healing. Holding two opposite sides until a synthesis at a higher level emerges, is a dialectical process known since the times of Aristotle. Psychosynthesis applies it as a tool for transformation of the personality. The growing awareness in the psychotherapeutic field that there is no one right answer or method leads us to the need for flexibility on the part of the psychotherapist. The beauty of Psychosynthesis Psychotherapy is that it is inclusive of and honouring of difference.
There are a wide variety of methods employed to meet the diversity of needs presented by different people whether they be suffering from early wounding, neurotic conflicts or existential questions about who they are and where their life is going. The imagination is the medium through which many processes in Psychosynthesis Psychotherapy happen. We emphasises the exploration of the symbolic process through the use of creative visualization and mental imagery. In complement to expanding awareness, there is the development of the capacity to Will. Assagioli set much store by people learning to face the challenges that life set them – the blessings of obstacles he called them.
Psychotherapists are required to engage in extensive personal psychotherapy during their training which is up to seven years duration. Psychotherapists usually have a first degree followed by a professional, highly specialised, theoretical and clinical training which includes research methodology and continuous professional development. The EAP promotes the recognition of common standards of training throughout Europe, and will ensure their mobility across member states.Training