Transpersonal Psychologists: What they do and How to Become a Transpersonal Psychologist
Transpersonal psychologists do many of the things that other psychologists do, including carry out psychotherapy and conduct research. Transpersonal psychologists, however, have a particular philosophical bent that shapes their therapy sessions. They value transcendent experience. Transpersonal psychologists don’t see all altered states of consciousness as manifestations of diagnosable illness. They are open to mystic experiences and see them as potentially healing. The Association for Transpersonal Psychology notes that one of their successes over the past four decades has been to make meditation an accepted healthcare strategy (http://atpweb.org/about.aspx). Another has been to help society recognize the connection between spiritual values and sustainability.
Transpersonal psychology is a form of humanistic psychology. Humanistic approaches had their origins more than 50 years in the past and were an alternative to the two then prevailing approaches: Freudian and behavioral.
Preparation for Credentialing as a Psychologist
A transpersonal psychologist can be a licensed healthcare provider if the right steps are followed. In many jurisdictions, in order to be licensed as a psychologist and provide psychotherapy in that capacity, one needs a doctoral degree from a program in clinical, counseling, or school psychology. These are broad categories and include many subspecialties. Transpersonal psychology may be offered as a concentration in a counseling psychology program.
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As a counseling psychology student, a person will take coursework in the different bases of human behavior, including biological. Scientific methodologies and professional standards will be covered. The program will include formal training delivering mental health services. After the program is complete, the individual will have additional steps to complete to achieve licensure. Requirements include passing a national board examination and fulfilling a practice requirement.
Grand Canyon University (GCU) offers a variety of Master’s in Psychology programs modeled after the standards and recommendations set by the American Psychological Association with emphases in: Forensic Psychology, General Psychology, GeroPsychology, Health Psychology, Human Factors Psychology, Industrial and Organizational Psychology and Life Coaching. Three Bachelor’s in Psychology programs are also offered. Click here to learn about GCU and their programs.
Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) offers online Bachelor’s and Master’s in Psychology programs with several emphases to select from as well as a CACREP accredited online Master’s in Counseling. Click here to learn about SNHU and their programs.
Capella University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and offers several online bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral programs in psychology including both clinical and non-clinical specializations. Capella University also offers three online CACREP-accredited programs: MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, MS in School Counseling, and PhD in Counselor Education and Supervision, as well as a COAMFTE-accredited program, MS in Marriage and Family Therapy. Click here to contact Capella University and request information about their programs.
It is not necessary to enroll in a program that has a formal transpersonal psychology concentration. Psychology students can look for programs where there are suitable mentors who have research experience in similar areas of interest.
Knowledge of transpersonal psychology can also be gained through continuing education – something that is generally required to maintain licensure. Some continuing education offerings in the transpersonal psychology field have been approved by the American Psychological Association.
Nonlicensure and Master’s Level Tracks
Some programs that are advertised as transpersonal psychology do not prepare students for licensure — at least not in many jurisdictions. They may prepare psychologists to work as scholars and researchers. (Not all psychologists do psychotherapy or carry out patient assessments.)
There are a number of counseling psychology programs at the master’s level that offer concentrations in transpersonal psychology. These do not prepare a graduate to be licensed as a psychologist but may prepare them for licensure as a professional counselor. Not all do – this depends on the accreditation and/or the specific coursework as well as on the laws of the individual state.
Division 32 of the American Psychological Association, the Society for Humanistic Psychology, has a special interest group (SIG) which focuses on transformational psychology (http://www.apadivisions.org/division-32/sigs/index.aspx). A psychology student can join Division 32 as an undergraduate; there is an Undergraduate Student Special Interest Group. Division 32 publishes a peer-reviewed journal, The Humanistic Psychologist. It is also possible to find a mentor through the organization (http://www.apadivisions.org/division-32/about/mentoring/index.aspx).
Transpersonal psychologists may also be interested in the Society for the Psychology of Religion and Spirituality (http://www.apa.org/about/division/div36.aspx).
While the American Board of Professional Psychology does not have a certification specifically for transpersonal counselors, some will be eligible for certification as counseling psychologists.
Another professional resource is the Association for Transpersonal Psychology (http://atpweb.org).
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the average salary of health service psychologists (counseling, clinical, and school specialties) at $72,200 in May of 2012. Data from the American Psychological Association suggests that counseling psychologists earn, on average, slightly less than clinical or school psychologists (http://www.apa.org/workforce/publications/09-salaries).