Basics The Practice of Transpersonal Psychology History, Popularity, and Research Areas By Kendra Cherry Kendra Cherry Facebook Twitter Kendra Cherry, MS, is an author and educational consultant focused on helping students learn about psychology. Learn about our editorial process Updated on October 07, 2021 Medically reviewed Verywell Mind articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and mental healthcare professionals. Medical Reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more. by Carly Snyder, MD Medically reviewed by Carly Snyder, MD Facebook LinkedIn Twitter Carly Snyder, MD is a reproductive and perinatal psychiatrist who combines traditional psychiatry with integrative medicine-based treatments. Learn about our Medical Review Board Print Tetra Images/Getty Images Table of Contents View All Table of Contents History Definition Popularity Difference From Parapsychology Research Areas Transpersonal psychology is a field or school of thought in psychology centered on the spiritual aspects of human life. The term transpersonal psychology was first introduced in the 1960s by psychologists such as Abraham Maslow and Victor Frankl. This field utilizes psychological methods and theories to examine the spiritual subject matter. History The Journal of Transpersonal Psychology began publication in 1969 and in 1971 the Association for Transpersonal Psychology was established. While the field did not formally begin until the late 1960s, it has its roots in early work by psychologists including William James and Carl Jung who were deeply interested in the spiritual aspects of human nature. In addition to using psychology to better understand spiritual experiences, transpersonal psychology also strives to provide a deeper and richer understanding of individuals and to help them achieve their greatest potential. Definition Transpersonal psychology is a label for a type of psychological theory that embraces a wide variety of ideas that have nothing to do with religion and everything to do with the mind and behavior. Transpersonal psychology looks at the whole human experience. While not all definitions of transpersonal psychology are exactly the same, researchers Lajoie and Shapiro have suggested that there are several key factors that figure into most explanations of this field. These include spirituality, higher potential, transcendence and other states of consciousness. In her 2009 book Eyes Wide Open: Cultivating Discernment on the Spiritual Path, Mariana Caplan wrote: "Transpersonal psychologists attempt to integrate timeless wisdom with modern Western psychology and translate spiritual principles into scientifically grounded, contemporary language. Transpersonal psychology addresses the full spectrum of human psychospiritual development—from our deepest wounds and needs to the existential crisis of the human being, to the most transcendent capacities of our consciousness." Instead of focusing on one school of psychological thought, or even just one discipline, transpersonal psychology seeks to incorporate a broad array of ideas, disciplines, and theories like philosophy, literature, health theories, art, social theory, cognition science, and different spiritual traditions, says Sofia University, formerly the Insitute of Transpersonal Psychology. Sofia University is a private institution that was initially founded to educate students in transpersonal psychology and continues to pass on transpersonal values. Popularity Although transpersonal psychology is not often explored in traditional psychology programs, there is increasing interest in this perspective and how theories and ideas from this field can be applied to different subfields of psychology. Mindfulness meditation, for example, is one element of transpersonal psychology that is becoming more popularly used. Major Perspectives in Modern Psychology Difference From Parapsychology Transpersonal psychology is sometimes confused with parapsychology, although it is important to note that the two are not the same. While transpersonal psychology focuses on the spiritual side of human nature, parapsychology is concerned with the paranormal, such as psychic phenomena, including precognition, clairvoyance, near-death experiences, and psychokinesis. Research Areas The following are just a few of the areas of research interest: Music therapy Guided imagery and visualization Peak experiences Near-death experiences Parapsychology Meditation, including mindfulness Spirituality and psychology Sources Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. "History of Sofia University." Sofia University (2016). Caplan, Mariana (2009). Eyes Wide Open: Cultivating Discernment on the Spiritual Path. Boulder, CO: Sounds True. Davis, J. (2000). "We Keep Asking Ourselves, What is Transpersonal Psychology?" Guidance and Counselling, 15 (3), 3-8. By Kendra Cherry Kendra Cherry, MS, is an author and educational consultant focused on helping students learn about psychology. See Our Editorial Process Meet Our Review Board Share Feedback Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! What is your feedback? Other Helpful Report an Error Submit Speak to a Therapist Online Advertiser Disclosure × The offers that appear in this table are from partnerships from which Verywell Mind receives compensation.