Transpersonal Psychology Careers

woman meditate on lakeWhat Is Transpersonal Psychology?

At some point in time, most of take a moment to look inside ourselves to discover our inner souls. For some, this might be a fleeting moment, but for others, it can last for years.

Transpersonal psychology is a field of psychology for all of the soul searchers out there. Trans translates to "beyond", and personal refers to personality. Therefore, transpersonal psychology is a field of psychology is the study of the human aspect that goes beyond the realm in which the so-called normal personality operates.

Studying transpersonal psychology often involves studying spirituality and the parts of the ego that are typically unexplored. Because this field of psychology deals with spirituality, there is often a religious aspect to it as well. This often involves getting acquainted with previously unknown levels of consciousness and life beyond the physical plane.

Transpersonal psychology has one of the more interesting histories of all fields of psychology. It started during the psychedelic hippie wave of the 1960's. It was around this time that two Harvard psychologists, Richard Alpert and Timothy Leary, began experimenting with psychedelic drugs, namely LSD and psychedelic mushrooms. Their experiments were meant to discover altered states of consciousness and transpersonal aspects of the human psyche. Although these two unorthodox professionals were fired from the university after their unusual experiments, the seed of transpersonal psychology had been planted and had begun to grow. In 1967, a small group of psychology professionals gathered to create a field of psychology with the purpose of studying all areas of human existence, including our transpersonal existence. From this group, transpersonal psychology began to come into its own.

Today, psychedelic drugs are not used to aid those in the field of transpersonal psychology. At least not in traditional circles. It is, however, still a growing field, especially considering humans are becoming more spiritual and looking for new holistic ways to feel better about ourselves and our lives.

Why Do We Need Transpersonal Psychology?

Transpersonal psychologists believe that to be at our peak performance in life, our bodies have to be completely healthy. Medical doctors can help us take care of our physical bodies, and traditional psychologists can help us take care of our minds. Transpersonal psychologists can help take care of the often ignored soul.

Having a healthy mind, body, and soul can lead to a much healthier and happier existence. The field of transpersonal psychology can also help people realize that people are ultimately spiritual beings in physical bodies, and that our consciousness has more than one level. By understanding these concepts, individuals will often have an easier time reaching self-actualization and self-fulfillment in life.

What Does a Transpersonal Psychologist Do?

Transpersonal psychologists work directly with people that might be "lost" spiritually, or just those that are looking for help "finding themselves" in order to leave a happier life. These professionals can also help patients change their negative behaviors, improve their relationships, or even just explore their spiritual sides.

Professionals in this field might use a number of different types of therapy and counseling to help guide their patients. They might use talk therapy, for instance, just as a traditional psychologist would. However they might also combine this traditional type of therapy with spiritual aspects as well.

Therapy and counseling in transpersonal psychology might involve such things as meditation, dream work, altered states of consciousness, and vision quests. These types of therapies can be used to help patients see themselves not merely as flesh, blood, and bones, but as diving individuals with a heightened sense of the world around them.

Where Do Transpersonal Psychologists Work?

Because transpersonal psychology is still thought to be quite unusual, it might be somewhat difficult for some individuals to find employment in this field. Businesses like spas and spiritual retreats, however, might hire transpersonal psychologists, as will a few mental health clinics.

The majority of transpersonal psychologists, though, will usually start their own private practices, seeing patients at their own convenience. Those with advanced degrees might also be able to find employment teaching at colleges and universities.

What Are the Education Requirements to Become a Transpersonal Psychologist?

As with finding a transpersonal psychology job, finding the right schools that cater to aspiring transpersonal psychologists can also be difficult. Only a handful of traditional colleges and universities offer degree programs in transpersonal psychology. Many aspiring transpersonal psychologists start their careers with bachelor degrees in general psychology or counseling psychology.

Below is the complete educational path for the Psychologists:
Psychologist Educational Track
School Programs Average Education Length Choosing Online or Campus
1. Earn a Bachelor's Degree View Programs 4 Years Online or Campus
2. Earn A Master's Degree View Programs 2 Additional Years Online or Campus
3. Earn a PHD or PsyD View Programs 2-4 Additional Years Online or Campus

Graduate degrees in transpersonal psychology are offered at some universities. Graduate degrees in counseling psychology with a strong spiritual background might also be acceptable for starting a career in transpersonal psychology, however.

What Is the Median Salary of a Transpersonal Psychologist?

It is difficult to find salary information for transpersonal psychologists, due to it's high level of specialization and the small number of individuals who have registered this area of psychology as their profession.  In fact, the  Bureau of Labor Statistics does not record salary data for these professionals. Generally speaking, transpersonal psychologists fall under the broad category of counseling psychologists, who earned a median salary of $73,090 in 2011.

Influences on Transpersonal Psychology
  • Richard Alpert andTimothy Leary started experimenting with psychedelic drugs in the 1960's in order to gain a deeper understanding of such things as levels of consciousness and out of body experiences. 

Additional Resources and Further Reading