COUNSELLING AND PSYCHOTHERAPY
“Psychosynthesis is interested in the whole building. We try to build an elevator which will allow a person access to every level of his personality. After all, a building with only a basement is very limited. We want to open up the terrace where you can sun-bathe or look at the stars. Our concern is the synthesis of all areas of the personality. That means psychosynthesis is holistic, global and inclusive. It is not against psychoanalysis or even behaviour modification but it insists that the needs for meaning, for higher values, for a spiritual life, are as real as biological or social needs. We deny that there are any isolated human problems.”
– Roberto Assagioli (27 February 1888 – 23 August 1974)
Psychosynthesis in a nutshell
Psychosynthesis is an approach to counselling, psychotherapy and psychology that offers various psychological and transpersonal theories and therapeutic methods designed for personal as well as spiritual development.
It was developed by an Italian psychiatrist, Roberto Assagioli, in response to psychoanalysis – a major approach within psychology at that time that presented humans as ‘machines’ driven only by unconscious forces. Although Assagioli initially practised psychoanalysis, he soon criticised it for focusing only on negative spheres of the unconscious, recognising a need for integrating all parts of human nature, including our hidden capabilities and higher values.
Assagioli distinguished between personal and transpersonal psychosynthesis, suggesting that the former facilitates the development of a healthy and balanced personality on many different levels, including mental, emotional and social, whereas the latter goes beyond it to provide an opportunity for a deeper meaning of and connection with the Self, people around us and life in general. In that sense, it can be applicable to many different issues and needs of clients who come to therapy.
In practice, psychosynthesis involves an active dialogue between client and therapist, as well as psychoanalysis, self-explorations with inclusion of conscious and unconscious parts of the personality, meditation, guided imagery, visualisation techniques, journaling and creative exercises, which all contribute to inner awakening and the experience of oneself as a more authentic being. It involves exploring the past and any suppressed emotions stuck in the present, with all the problematic symptoms affecting one’s daily life, and the future that holds one’s possible progress and opportunity for transformation.