What is Spiritual Emergence?

By April 16, 2015

Today’s psychology focus is on Spiritual Emergence counseling. You will love this approach if you or someone you know is experiencing any one of these:

  • Shamanic crisis
  • Awakening of Kundalini
  • Episodes of unitive consciousness
  • Crisis of psychic opening
  • Past-life experiences
  • Communication with spirit guides and “channeling”
  • Near-death experiences (NDEs)
  • Alcoholism and drug addiction

spiritual-emergenceThe term spiritual emergence refers to the normal life-enhancing aspect of human development which seeks meaning and connection beyond our personal identity. This leads to a greater capacity for wisdom, compassion, and respect for all life as well as a deeper sense of personal security and inner peace. This growth can be challenging, even tumultuous, at times turning into a crisis known as a spiritual emergency.

Stanislov Grof and his wife Christina coined the termed in the late 1970s as part of the Transpersonal Psychology movement, a sub-field or “school” of psychology that integrates the spiritual and transcendent aspects of the human experience with the framework of modern psychology.

The transpersonal is defined as experiences in which the sense of identity or self extends beyond (trans) the individual or personal to encompass wider aspects of humankind, life, psyche, or the cosmos.

Issues considered in transpersonal psychology include spiritual self-development, self beyond the ego, peak experiences, mystical experiences, systemic trance, spiritual crises, spiritual evolution, religious conversion, altered states of consciousness, spiritual practices, and other sublime and/or unusually expanded experiences of living.

What happens in a Spiritual Emergence counseling session?

Mental Status Exam and Psycho-Social Assessment: ability to self-care, manage daily responsibilities, extent of family/peer support, determine level of treatment intervention and frequency of sessions.

Exploration of symptoms, symbolic meaning and associations for personal growth, and underlying resistances and fears

Use of Holotropic breathwork, Sandtray, Gestalt, or EMDR to manage symptoms

Identification of triggers and underlying psychological issues contributing to the episode

Resources for further exploration

Spiritual Emergency Network (SEN) was founded in 1980 by Stanislov and Christina Grof in response to the lack of understanding and respect for psychospiritual growth in the mental health profession.  The website provides information, referral, and emergency phone numbers for mental health professionals and individuals experiencing a spiritual emergency.

Spiritual Emergency Network

This article written by Stanislov Grof is a basic introduction and overview to understanding and treating psychospiritual crisis.

Spiritual Emergencies: Understanding and Treatment of Psychospiritual Crisis, by Stanislov Grof.

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