The term "transpersonal psychology," loosely defined as a field of study that draws the attention of those interested in both psychology and spirituality, lacks a concrete definition. Classroom and online options in transpersonal psychology studies range from certification programs to master's and doctoral degree programs, as well as training to enhance an existing skill set, such as that of a clinical psychologist. Students can also apply transpersonal psychology training to research, education and administration careers.
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The Association for Transpersonal Psychology, which bills itself as "the leading organisation devoted to the field," says that transpersonal psychology promotes the use of meditation in health care, the study of so-called mystical states of consciousness, and increasing the dialogue between scientific and spiritual traditions. Institutions may have similar studies under different names, such as depth psychology, eco-psychology, integral psychology or contemplative psychology.
Those interested professional transpersonal psychology training have a selection of schools and programs from which to choose. For example, students can pursue a Master of Arts degree from the Colorado-based Naropa University or the Institute for Transpersonal Psychology in California, which also offers a certificate or Ph.D. in transpersonal studies. In addition to full-time programs at both schools that require residency, Naropa's low-residency option presents a mixture of online courses with evening, weekend and summer classes, and ITP has online certificate and master's degree programs. The California Institute for Integral Studies offers a master's degree in what it calls "Integral Counseling Psychology," along with other degrees in topics closely related to transpersonal studies.
As with most collegiate programs, transpersonal psychology studies require some background in the subject, especially for students pursuing a graduate degree. Such prerequisites vary from school to school, yet most include a bachelor's degree in psychology or a related field. Once accepted, core classes and electives depend on each school's requirements, but generally include coursework on mind/body awareness, special topics in psychology, and hands-on experience such as internships in school-based counselling programs. The time it takes to get a degree in transpersonal psychology ranges from two to four years, depending on the program.
When contemplating transpersonal psychology training, prospective students should thoroughly research the different programs to see which one best fits their needs. Students short on time or those already working in a related field may find a certificate or online option more appropriate than the intensive, residential master's or doctoral programs. Enrolment without an existing career, also a viable option, lets students learn about the subject or develop transpersonal psychology knowledge to use in professional practices related to research, writing, education and administration.
Degrees offered in this field often focus on newer theories and methods as compared to traditional psychology training. For example, a transpersonal psychology student will study meditation and a body discipline such as yoga, whereas traditional psychology programs focus solely on intellectual studies. Transpersonal psychology programs expand upon the intellectual tradition, and those who see traditional psychological practices as "tried and true" may view transpersonal psychology as a grey area.
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- Naropa University: Master of Arts in Transpersonal Psychology 2010-2011
- Naropa University: What is Transpersonal Psychology?
- Institute for Transpersonal Psychology: Academic Programs
- Association for Transpersonal Psychology: About ATP
- Institute for Transpersonal Psychology: Residential Ph.D. in Transpersonal Psychology