International Journal of Transpersonal Studies
built upon acceptance o, and reliance on, a higher power(Miller, 1999).Te question is: Why? What is it in thesecircumstances that shields them rom practitionerresistance and condemnation o “irrational” spiritualbelies? Tere seem to be three relevant themes in suchlie threatening situations that allow clinicians to gobeyond their dominant materialist belies: (1) Tese casesare usually perceived as crises that demand individuals’ultimate inner resources o strength, including theirspiritual belies, which receive legitimacy in light o thecrisis; (2) Te human quest or hope in such situationscalls or solutions beyond human control and rationalperception; i practitioners adhered to their usual reality perception, no hope, solace or consolation would beorthcoming; (3) Compassion towards seriously ill ordying people relaxes practitioners’ judgmental criteria;individuals are given the privilege o observing their livesrom a transcendental-holistic perspective without having to worry about being seen as irrational.In sum, at this rst level, spiritual belies andconcerns are usually not evoked by the clinician butare acknowledged and allowed without criticism due toextreme situations. O course this delineation is highly prototypical and, hence, may not do justice to thefexibility with which many clinicians actually exhibit when spiritual issues are raised in therapy. Te point we are making is that at this level proessionals’ typicalontological assumptions (only the material exists; themental world dies when the body dies) and epistemologicalbelies (we cannot get inormation rom deceased people,higher beings, or a cosmic, universal wisdom) signicantly limit the therapeutic process. Teir infuence may be allthe more powerul and insidious since they are otennot openly acknowledged or stated, yet they are likely to aect both style and content o therapy (e.g., what isconsidered relevant and solicited in the evaluation and what is not, what receives attention or emphasis and whatis downplayed or ignored, what is merely “allowed” and what is reinorced), thus coloring interpretations given,interventions oered, and the entire encounter.Some relevant questions and dilemmas relating to this level might include: Should clinicians accept “non-scientic phenomena” as legitimate? Should they honorsuch concerns and worldviews even i they clearly do notshare them and actually think that they are antasticcreations o the imagination? For example, i a widow tellsa therapist about her conversations with her late husband whom she believes contacts her rom the “other side,”should clinicians (as many do) interpret this as an internalconversation with her representation o her husband,or should they accept the possibility that the deceasedactually exists in another dimension and continue romthere to explore her possible relations with him in otherincarnations?
he second phase in the inclusion o spiritual acetsin mental health interventions involves a personalparadigm shit on the part o the clinician. In this stage,therapists can place spirituality and psychology side-by-side. Tis requires that they relinquish the positivismand empiricism characteristic o the previous stage inavor o a post-modern or existential-humanistic position(Capra, 1983; Lorimer, 1998; Ravindra, 2000). Fromsuch a post-positivist view, the clinician can questionthe validity o 19
century empirical science, realizing that there is no objective reality, only interpretations o realities. Hence, a client’s view o reality–his or her liestory or narrative–is what matters, and clinicians cannotand should not disqualiy it, just as they cannot andshould not convince a client who believes in God or in a certain religious tradition that this is simply a subjective,non-valid belie. According to this view, a spiritual ortranscendental reality can be accepted as a legitimate worldview to be explored in therapy i and when theclient raises such issues.I an existential-humanistic view is adopted,and especially i the assumptions o transpersonalpsychology are considered (Wilber, 1977), the paradigmshit involves entertaining the possibility that a spiritualsphere actually exists and may be explored. A clinicianat this level would assert that i spiritual phenomena orbelies have any infuence on the mental and physical world, there should be no obstacles in the way o assessing this infuence via accepted research methodologies(Mayseless, 2006). In line with this view is the largebody o research examining associations betweenspiritual activities such as meditation and varied physicaland mental states. Studies have described the impact o meditation on the nervous system, including changeso brain waves, changes o perception, improvemento emotional regulation, and more (Anand, China, &Singh, 1961; Brown & Engler, 1986; Davidson, Kabat-Zinn, & Schumacher, 2003; Kasamatsu & Harari, 1966;Lutz, Greschar, Rawlings, Ricard, & Davidson, 2004).Scientic inquiry into the relationship betweenspiritual, mental, and physical aspects o reality hastaken many other orms. For example, Sabom (1982) and