At the unique graduate school I teach at, the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology, a number of the Core Faculty are clinicians and counselors, and we have a PhD level program in clinical psychology as part of transpersonal psychology. Recently I wrote them:
Here’s an interesting question from someone responding to my blog, a young woman graduate student/scientist who has a lot of psychic and transpersonal experiences, but often just wants them to go away so she can be “normal” and a “scientist.” I could try a theoretical response, but how would you real clinicians answer this? I’ll pass the answer’s on, and hopefully they will be educational to many. —- Charley
So how do transpersonal psychologists know what to tell someone who has come in for counseling? I have a counselor that believes my weird experiences are OK. But he doesn’t seem to know what I need to do to be OK about them. He was much better at helping me with a problem I was having as a TA dealing with an unreasonable instructor. That was something he had seen before and it was easy for him to help me do what I needed to do to deal with that problem. But when I show up crying because I’ve seen the ghost of a student who committed suicide, he doesn’t know what to tell me.
I think this is an interesting question for a lot of people, so I’ll share the responses I’ve gotten here. First,
As to what “we clinicians” might do with this young woman: The first thing I would do is listen to what the she is saying. She is communicating that these experiences are “weird” and from your comments she is saying that these experience somehow challenge her “scientific” self. I would start by asking her what does she mean by “weird” and “scientific” self. Sometimes clients have experiences that they are frightened mean that they are becoming psychotic or losing control. Of course they ARE losing control of their ego’s ability to keep things status quo, but I wouldn’t say this at this point. This process of exploring could take several months to move through before I would in anyway begin to normalize her experience. During this time I would listen carefully for any “benefit” she might communicate to me either consciously or unconsciously and I would reflect/explore that with her. I would encourage her to use the “scientific” method and explore hypotheses about these experience. At some point clients usually ask me if other people or if I have had these experiences. This is then an opening for educating them and moving toward normalization. If you try to make these experiences “OK” right away you de-rail an initiatory and transformative process that is probably emerging within the client in a healthy way. Anyway, this is a very quick and simplistic answer to an excellent question raised by this young woman. Hope it helps.