Psychosynthesis

Psychosynthesis was born in 1910 when the Italian psychiatrist Roberto Assagioli became dissatisfied with psychoanalysis. Although Assagioli was a colleague of Sigmund Freud and C. G. Jung, and an early pioneer of psychoanalysis in Italy, he saw that psychoanalysis neglected the healthier and “higher” aspects of human nature. He sought not only “psycho-analysis,” but “psycho-synthesis” - an understanding of how the psyche becomes whole.

Roberto Assagioli developed one of the first Western psychologies that addresses both spiritual development and psychological healing and growth by recognizing and supporting the particular life journey of the person - the individual's own unique path of Self-realization.

Psychosynthesis departed from the empirical foundations of psychology in that it studied a person as a personality and a soul but Assagioli continued to insist that it was scientific. He developed therapeutic methods beyond those found in psychoanalysis. Although the unconscious is an important part of his theory, Assagioli was careful to maintain a balance with rational, conscious therapeutical work.

There are two major models presented by Assagioli in his seminal book, Psychosynthesis (1965). The first of these is the basic model of the human personality, also known as the “oval-shaped” or “egg” diagram. While this first model is purposely a relatively static model, the second model—the stages of psychosynthesis—is more dynamic, describing the different stages a person may encounter over the course of psychosynthesis.

In addition to these two models, psychosynthesis recognizes two dimensions of human growth: personal and transpersonal growth. The first of these involves developing a clear sense of personal identity while the second involves engaging more unitive and universal types of experience beyond individuality. Distinct from both of these is the process of Self-realization in which we contact and respond to the deepest currents in our soul; here a life path unfolds which may engage either or both dimensions of growth.

Assagioli was not the first to use the term "psychosynthesis". The earliest was by James Jackson Putnam, who used it as the name of his electroconvulsive therapy. The term was also used by C. G. Jung and A. R. Orage, who were both far closer to Assagioli's thinking than Putnam. C. G. Jung had written, comparing his goals to those of Sigmund Freud, "If there is a 'psychoanalysis' there must also be a 'psychosynthesis which creates future events according to the same laws'." A. R. Orage, who was publisher of the influential The New Age journal, also made use of the term, which he hyphenated as psycho-synthesis. Orage formed an early psychology study group (which included Maurice Nicoll who later studied with Carl Jung) and concluded that what humanity needed was not psychoanalysis, but psycho-synthesis.

Over the past ninety years, psychosynthesis has grown into a comprehensive and compassionate approach to the whole person. Today it is represented by a growing body of literature in many languages, practitioners working in a variety of different professions, and over one hundred institutes operating throughout the world.

Psychosynthesis in action

Individual and couple sessions are focused on the issue(s) with which you yourself are concerned; there are no uniform methods or standard techniques invariably employed. Psychosynthesis therapy is tailored to the specific needs of the individual or couple, and is founded in the unique relationship you develop with your consultant, coach, guide or therapist. Thus a variety of different approaches may be used depending on what you want to do and within your coach or change agent’s skills and practice. The overall aim is to elaborate and deepen your understanding of the issue at hand so that new insights and new actions become possible, and are implemented in your daily lives.

Over the course of their sessions, people often develop a stronger contact with their own inner wisdom, become clearer about the nature of their unique path of growth, and discover their own ways of working with life patterns. Issues which have been addressed include: childhood wounding, family-of-origin patterns, addictions, anxiety and depression, relationships, career direction, marriage, creativity, self-exploration, recovery, spirituality, the search for meaning, and life direction and calling.

Each consultant will have many different methods of applying these psychosynthesis principles within their wider training and practices, and clients should discuss these in relation to their own goals and requirements to ensure mutual understanding of what can and what can’t be expected in their sessions.

Reference:
- Wikipedia, The free encyclopaedia;
- Psychosynthesis Palo Alto / John Firman and Ann Gila (1993)