What Is Transpersonal Psychology?

Updated April 11, 2024by MyTherapist Editorial Team

There are many types of psychology designed to help you live a long, fulfilling life. One such type of psychology is transpersonal. You may be wondering exactly what transpersonal psychology is all about, and, more importantly, what it might do for you. In this article, we will dive deeper into transpersonal psychology—including what it is and how it might be beneficial for you.

Want to learn how to connect with your inner spirit?

What is transpersonal psychology?

Before we explore transpersonal psychology, let's break down the word transpersonal. Trans means “beyond,” and personal means “personality.” Thus, transpersonal psychology is a psychology field that studies beyond someone’s personality. For many, this means soul searching or finding one's true self.

Transpersonal psychology is typically focused on one’s spiritual side. Because of the spiritual aspect of this type of psychology, there are often religious ties. The concepts of life beyond death and different levels of consciousness are ones that may be explored via transpersonal psychology.

Some people may be dubious about the merits of transpersonal psychology because it is based around concepts that science can’t prove. On the other hand, others may like it precisely because it goes beyond what we can prove. 

History of transpersonal psychology

Transpersonal psychology began thanks to the drug culture of the 1960s. While many people of the era experimented with psychedelic drugs, two psychologists from Harvard, Timothy Leary and Richard Alpert, decided to study them. They used LSD, mushrooms, and other psychedelic drugs to find other states of consciousness and discover parts of the human psyche beyond our normal reach.

Taking drugs to study was frowned upon at Harvard, and Harvard soon fired them. However, their experience helped create the field of transpersonal psychology, and it evolved soon thereafter.

Does transpersonal psychology still use drugs? Is the field an excuse for people to get high? Not at all. In most mainstream circles, transpersonal psychology does not use psychedelic drugs. Instead, they look for other ways to study what is beyond what we know. As a result, transpersonal psychology is an always growing and evolving field and one that’s worth checking out for many reasons.

What transpersonal psychology can do for you

A transpersonal psychologist believes that the whole self-needs to be healthy to have the best experience with life. Transpersonal psychology believes that there is a part of your body that is often ignored. Your physical body is taken care of by a medical doctor. A psychologist in a more traditional field will treat your mental symptoms. So, what does a transpersonal psychologist do? Simply put, they help treat your soul, which is ignored in most scientific fields, as that's a difficult concept to pin down.

The idea of exactly what a soul is will differ from person to person. For some, it’s the immortal part of you that goes to another plane of existence after your death. For others, the soul is more metaphorical, and it means the traits that make you, you. Whatever your belief of the soul is, transpersonal psychology focuses on the idea that we are more than our physical body and that different levels of consciousness need caring. By studying transpersonal psychology, a person can help increase their self-actualization levels and live a better life.

Who a transpersonal psychologist helps

A transpersonal psychologist helps many people, including:

  • Those who feel like their spiritual life needs more care. These people often want to visit beyond their normal consciousness or improve their relationship with a higher being they believe in. A transpersonal psychologist can help a person look at their spiritual side.
  • Those people who want to find themselves. This can mean finding your purpose, your personality, or just your place in this confusing world. A transpersonal psychologist can help you by changing some of your negative behaviors or helping with relationship issues.

To accomplish this, a transpersonal psychologist may employ many of the same techniques used by traditional therapy. For example, a transpersonal psychologist might use talk therapy, which is what many traditional psychologists use. Instead of simply talking to someone and guiding them through their feelings, however, a transpersonal psychologist will integrate spirituality into it. Here are some techniques they use:

  • Meditation. Meditation is good for calming your nerves, but it’s often used to attempt to reach another plane of existence. A transpersonal psychologist will use different types of meditation to help you with your spiritual side.
  • Dreamwork. Your dreams are said to be a look into the world beyond the conscious. A transpersonal psychologist will look at your dreams and try to find the meaning of them. They may guide you to lucid dream, where you can control your dreams by being aware of them.
  • Altered states of consciousness. A transpersonal psychologist may alter your consciousness in order to help you find yourself. They may do this through hypnotism or drugs, though the latter isn’t used much anymore.
  • Music therapy. Some transpersonal psychologists will use music to help a person stay calm, reach their goals, or reach the next level of consciousness. Music therapy is used in many different parts of psychology and is not just limited to transpersonal psychology.
  • Peak experiences. This is the feeling of euphoria one gets when they experience self-actualization. Someone who has a peak experience may display it through a small activity, or the activity could be intense. Transpersonal psychologists want people to achieve peak experiences, and they also study how people display peak experiences.
  • Mindfulness. Mindfulness involves being aware of the present and not letting the past or future occupy your mind. It involves heightened sensations that allow a person to see the world around them in much more detail. Mindfulness is a concept that’s found in many forms of psychology and not just transpersonal psychology. There are many ways to be more mindful, and a transpersonal psychologist can guide you to find the way that’s best for you.

There are also many areas that transpersonal psychologists find fascinating and continue to study, including:

  • Concepts that cannot be proven scientifically, such as reincarnation, telepathy, psychokinesis, ghosts, or any other paranormal experience. 
  • Near-death experiences, which have been a subject of fascination for transpersonal psychologists for many years. When someone has a brush with death, they may detach from their body, hallucinate, have their life flash before their eyes, or have a religious experience. A near-death experience is said to be a peek at life beyond our conscious. Skeptics argue that it’s a response from our brains when faced with a deadly situation. Either way, some transpersonal psychologists study near-death experiences and try to find meaning in them.

Where can you find a transpersonal psychologist?

Transpersonal psychology isn’t a traditional outlook on psychology, so you’re not going to find them in traditional clinics or hospitals. You may find one at a spa or a retreat that deals with spirituality. There may be some mental health clinics that have them, but they are rare. You may also find transpersonal professors at some colleges who teach the concept to students. An online search may be the best place to start to find a transpersonal psychologist to work with.

Educational training of a transpersonal psychologist

Like a general psychologist, a transpersonal psychologist needs to have a variety of education and areas of study to get the career of their dreams. That said, an actual transpersonal psychology degree is rare, so most transpersonal psychologists will need a general or counseling psychology degree before they move on. Many transpersonal psychologists will have a master's or a PhD. Most of those who enter the field of transpersonal psychology do so because they want to discover more about humanity beyond the physical.

Online transpersonal therapy is available

Getty/Vadym Pastukh
Want to learn how to connect with your inner spirit?

Transpersonal psychology can be enlightening for the spiritual or those who want to have their spiritual side explored. However, it can also benefit those who aren’t as spiritual, but are curious about the concept of spirituality. While it’s a relatively obscure form of psychology, it has helped many people, and it’s worth trying if you are at least a bit curious.

If you're in need of someone to talk to, you can seek out a therapist, be it one who studies transpersonal psychology or another form. Therapists are available both in person and online. Many people these days are opting for online therapy due to its convenience factor and its affordability. Online therapy is usually very flexible, too, allowing people to speak to a therapist through a variety of means.

BetterHelp is an online therapy platform which matches clients to licensed therapists. Simply fill out a questionnaire, and you'll be connected to a therapist trained to help someone in your situation. You'll be able to chat via text, telephone, or video chat.


If you need help with any kind of issue, there is no shame in talking to a therapist. Find one who is a good fit for you, and you might just soothe your soul.

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