What is Spiritual Psychology? Spiritual psychology is also referred to as Transpersonal Psychology and is a branch of psychology that is growing rapidly. Many people are concentrating on exploring the mind and it’s relationship to spirituality. Whether it’s to answer their own personal questions, or to pursue as a career.
In this article, we’ll explain what spiritual psychology is, what spiritual psychologists do for a living, and take a look at some courses that are on offer for those of you who would like to explore this topic more. These courses range from non-accredited – factual introductions, right up to post-graduate certifications.
So, if you are interested in psychology and want to see how this branch of science can be explored in combination with our spiritual journey’s, this article will answer any questions you may have.
Transpersonal psychology is the study and cultivation of the highest and most transformative human values and potentials—individual, communal, and global—that reflect the mystery and interconnectedness of life, including our human journey within the cosmos. (1)
What is Spiritual Psychology?
As we’ve already discussed, spiritual psychology is also known as transpersonal psychology and is a “school” of psychology that combines the spiritual and transcendent aspects of the human experience, within the framework of modern psychology.
Transpersonal experiences are defined as “experiences in which the sense of identity or self extends beyond (trans) the individual or personal to encompass wider aspects of humankind, life, psyche or cosmos.” (2)
When someone is studying spiritual psychology they analyze several areas including:
- Spiritual self-development
- Self beyond the ego
- Peak experiences
- Mystical experiences
- Systemic trance
- Spiritual crises
- Spiritual evolution
- Religious conversion
- Altered states of consciousness
- Spiritual practices
- and other expanded experiences of living
Spiritual psychology has made many important discoveries in the academic field and continues to further understand the spiritual aspects of the human experience.
Transpersonal education literally means ‘Drawing out from behind the mask‘. It is related to transpersonal psychology and can be best described by understanding Plato’s teaching that:
“The power and capacity for learning exists in the soul already.”
He further goes on to state that true education can only occur when
“the whole soul…turned from the world of becoming into that of being, and learn[ed] by degrees to endure the sight of being, and of the brightest and best of being, or in other words, the good.” (3)
When we combine Plato’s teachings with the literal meaning of transpersonal education, we can surmise that the purpose of transpersonal education is:
The drawing out of the soul – the essential core of ones nature – from behind the obscuring mask of ego. (4)
This is important to note when we are trying to understand what spiritual psychology is and why it is the crux of all we do, particularly when examining our own spiritual journeys.
Becoming a Spiritual Psychologist
Many people are interested in becoming career spiritual psychologists, but what do they do and how can you become one? As spiritual psychology is a branch of psychology, most people would earn their degree in psychology before branching off at post-graduate level. However, there are degrees that focus on this subject specifically.
If you have earned accreditation and are certified for practice, you can use spiritual psychology in counselling sessions. However, many people who have studied spiritual psychology go on to become entrepreneurs, life coaches, professional speakers, authors, and a wide range of other vocations.
To help you understand this in more detail we’ll take a look at what spiritual psychologists do and some of the courses that are out there to help you embark on a career in spiritual psychology.
What do Spiritual Psychologists Do?
Spiritual psychology has existed in some form for thousands of years though it has become its own branch of study in more recent times. The spiritual psychologists whose work set the stage for future generations include William James, Carl Jung, Roberto Assagioli and Abraham Maslow.
In 1969, Abraham Maslow and others issued the first publication of the Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, which is the leading academic journal in the field. Spiritual psychologists can work as researchers, understanding how the mind works from a spiritual point of view and improving our understanding of psychology and mental health at the same time.
However, many spiritual psychologists don’t work in an academic setting. Many work as entrepreneurs, life coaches, professional speakers, and authors. As transpersonal psychology allows us to greater understand the self and the many human experiences we undergo, the study of the subject often gives people the confidence to understand their life purpose and pursue a career in it.
Many who have seen the power of understanding the self to this degree, feel a responsibility to share this knowledge with others, allowing them to pursue their dreams. These people tend to work as life coaches, speakers, and authors.
As you can see, the type of work can vary. Just because you study spiritual psychology doesn’t mean you have to work as a psychologist – many don’t! What it does however is help us to make sense of some of life’s biggest questions and identify that which we are meant to be doing.
If you’re interested in exploring spiritual psychology in more depth, the following courses will help depending on the level you want to get to.
Courses in Spiritual Psychology
Soul-Centered Living I: Foundations in Spiritual Psychology – University of Santa Monica
This is a 10-month certificate program that is split up with in-person lessons held one weekend per month and online learning. This course is designed to give you an introduction into spiritual psychology and is a good foundation for anyone who’s still not 100% certain whether to pursue as a career or just an interest.
Specialist – Expert Diploma – Transpersonal Psychology Online via distance learning
This program expands the perspective on psychology to describe a new range of mind operations in human, which connect spirituality with mind sciences. Also, it reviews the rich contributions cultures as different as such Shamanism, Hinduism, and Buddhism and illustrates their influence on therapeutic practices.
Video from the University of Santa Monica
Degree in Spiritual Psychology
Bachelor’s Degree – Transpersonal Psychology Online via distance learning at Bircham University
Birches University provides many courses at various levels in Transpersonal Psychology, from certificate to postgraduate level. Modules covered throughout these courses include:
- Movement & Meditation
- Healing Practices & Ritual
- Human Development
- Understanding Disease
- Illness Awareness & Lifecycle
- Mind, Body & Spirit
- Psychosomatic Connexion
- E-Motion Therapy
- Human Consciousness
- Emotional Intelligence
- Wellness & Health
- Spiritual Wellness
- States of Consciousness
- Therapeutic Trance States
- Transpersonal Psychology
- Philosophy of Mind
Masters Degrees in Spiritual Psychology
1) M.A. In Spiritual Psychology – University of Santa Monica
This MA in Spiritual Psychology is a two-year course that focuses on psychology interfacing with spirituality. In this course you are tasked with uncovering the answers to the following three questions:
1) Who am I?
2) What is my purpose?
3) How can I make a meaningful contribution?
This is an in-depth masters that can set you up in a career as an author, speaker, or philosopher
2) Global Master of Arts in Transpersonal Psychology – Sofia University
This masters degree has been designed for educators, healthcare professionals, business leaders, organizational developers, therapists, alternative practitioners, entrepreneurs, and cultural creatives who wish to find more expansive ways to enhance their current profession.
This two-year program focuses on transpersonal psychology with a specialization in transformative life coaching, creativity, or spiritual psychology.
3) Master’s Degree – Transpersonal Psychology Online via distance learning
See modules listed under degrees.
Transpersonal Psychology PhDs & Postgraduate Courses
1) Soul-Centered Professional Coaching Program – University of Santa Monica
This 7-month program is designed for graduates of the master degree program in spiritual psychology. Coach-specific training is offered in a blended format including monthly weekend classes at the University, Peer Coaching groups, coaching sessions, and a Six-Day Summer Lab.
This course is unique as it actively focuses on helping someone to pursue a career as a coach and mentor. If this is an area you have thought about pursuing then this course is definitely worth checking out.
2) Doctor Ph.D. Degree – Transpersonal Psychology Online via distance learning – Bircham University
See modules listed under degrees.
- Anderson and Braud, 2011, p. 9
- Walsh, R. & Vaughan, F. “On transpersonal definitions”. Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, 25 (2) 125-182, 1993
- Plato’s ‘The Republic’ VII, para. 518
- Friedman, H. & Hartelius, G. ‘The Wiley-Blackwell Handbook of Transpersonal Psychology’ 2013