Mental health has become a growing concern in Canada and around the world. According to recent figures, “In any given year, 1 in 5 Canadians experiences a mental health or addiction problem” and—even more worrying—half of all Canadians will have or have had a mental illness by the time they reach 40 (Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, 2012).
These already troubling figures get worse, as mental health is becoming an increasing concern for younger Canadians. In 2015, a mental health poll found that 53% of millennials were at “high risk” for mental health issues (Chai, C., 2017). In 2016, that figure had increased to 56%, and this year that number has climbed again to a staggering 63% (Chai, C., 2017).
Some experts have gone so far as to question whether modern life itself is incompatible with wellness (Edelstein, J., 2016). Today’s focus on income and prestige, as well as a shift away from connectedness and community are thought to be contributing to mental health problems (Singal, J., 2016). In addition, chronic lack of sleep, lack of work-life balance, and less exercise could also be adding to the current mental health epidemic (Johnston, I.,2017) (Mental Health Foundation, 2017) (Huffington Post, 2013).
With so many factors potentially affecting clients, how can modern counsellors work to help promote healing and fulfilment? While there are many options that offer benefits, transpersonal therapy may be particularly well suited to the modern mental health crisis. Read on to discover how you can use this approach to help clients.
The Transpersonal Approach to Therapy
Transpersonal therapy is a holistic approach that examines mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical wellness, in addition to creativity and community (Counselling Directory, 2017). However, transpersonal therapy places a particularly strong emphasis on spiritual wellbeing. It focuses on helping clients move “beyond the conditioned ego,” so that they can connect with their essential self (Counselling Directory, 2017).
Meditation, breathwork, therapeutic yoga, journaling, and many other activities designed to promote greater awareness can be utilized in transpersonal therapy (Counselling Directory, 2017). It is through these transpersonal approaches that counsellors help clients come to know who they are as well as the intangible and spiritual dimensions of their being (Counselling Directory, 2017).
Why You May Want to Employ Transpersonal Therapy When You Become a Counsellor
Because modern society often places emphasis on outward signs of fulfilment, whether in the form of material wealth, physical appearance, high grades, or a spotless social media profile, the spiritual focus of transpersonal therapy can offer balance to clients who might otherwise be neglecting their spiritual needs.
Transpersonal therapy can be an especially helpful option for clients who are feeling unhappy about their career trajectory. According to a recent poll, “47 per cent of Canadian professionals are unhappy in their current job” (CISION, 2016). When these employees were asked what would make them happy, many agreed that workplace culture and connecting with coworkers would help them feel more satisfied (CISION, 2016). However, the study also noted that most Canadians inevitably ignored these needs, and instead chose their place of work based on the salary it offered (CISION, 2016). By placing material and financial needs ahead of personal fulfilment, the study concluded, workers were increasingly putting themselves in situations that lead to stress. (CISION, 2016). By helping clients evaluate their needs and make decisions that are in tune with what brings them contentment, counsellors using transpersonal approaches can therefore help their clients manage many of the complexities of modern life.
Whether a client is a young student struggling with low self-esteem or an executive who feels unfulfilled despite their outward success, employing transpersonal approaches once you become a counsellor can help your clients gain self-awareness, become more altruistic, feel more calm, and achieve lasting growth.
The Role of the Counsellor in Transpersonal Therapy
In transpersonal therapy the counsellor does not adopt the role of an expert or authority figure (Counselling Directory, 2017). Rather, the counsellor’s role is that of a facilitator who is equal to their client (Counselling Directory, 2017). For transpersonal therapy to work as intended, counsellors must be present, authentic, and non-judgemental during sessions. This allows the counsellor and client to examine a client’s experiences and role models without preconceived judgements clouding discussions. By focusing on a client’s strengths and experiences in this way, graduates of professional counsellor programs help clients gain a truer understanding of their personal nature. (Counselling Directory, 2017).
Because authentic connection is so central to transpersonal therapy, counsellors who have experienced these approaches for themselves are often best prepared to thrive in this role. Experiential programs, which allow students to explore their own spirituality and connect with who they truly are, help promote genuine connection between client and counsellor.
Would you like to learn how to use transpersonal approaches in your counselling career?
Discover the experiential professional counsellor diploma program offered by Rhodes Wellness College.
Addiction.com (2015). Transpersonal Therapy. Retrieved October 18, 2017 from https://www.addiction.com/a-z/transpersonal-therapy/
Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. (2012). Mental Illness and Addictions: Facts and Statistics. Retrieved October 18, 2017 from http://www.camh.ca/en/hospital/about_camh/newsroom/for_reporters/Pages/addictionmentalhealthstatistics.aspx
Chai, C. (2017, May 2). Why more Canadian millennials than ever are at ‘high risk’ of mental health issues. Retrieved October 18, 2017 from https://globalnews.ca/news/3417600/why-more-canadian-millennials-than-ever-are-at-high-risk-of-mental-health-issues/
Counselling Directory. (2017). Transpersonal psychology. Retrieved October 18, 2017 from http://www.counselling-directory.org.uk/transpersonal-psychology.html
Edelstein, J. (2016, March 16). Young people are growing ever more depressed. Is modern life to blame? Retrieved October 18, 2017 from https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/mar/16/depression-mental-health-modern-life-young
Huffington Post. (2013, September 6). Sitting, Lack Of Exercise Linked With Symptoms Of Depression In New Study. Retrieved October 18, 2017 from https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/06/sitting-depression-mental-health-exercise_n_3880963.html
Johnston, I. (2017, September 24). ‘Catastrophic’ lack of sleep in modern society is killing us, warns leading sleep scientist. Retrieved Oct 18, 2017 from http://www.independent.co.uk/news/sleep-deprivation-epidemic-health-effects-tired-heart-disease-stroke-dementia-cancer-a7964156.html
Mental Health Foundation. (2017). Work-life balance. Retrieved Oct 18, 2017 from https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/a-to-z/w/work-life-balance
Psychology Today. (2017) Transpersonal Therapy. Retrieved October 18, 2017 https://www.psychologytoday.com/therapy-types/transpersonal-therapy
Singal, J. (2016, March 13). For 80 Years, Young Americans Have Been Getting More Anxious and Depressed, and No One Is Quite Sure Why. Retrieved October 18, 2017 from http://nymag.com/scienceofus/2016/03/for-80-years-young-americans-have-been-getting-more-anxious-and-depressed.html
CISION. (2016, May 2). Half of Canada’s working population is unhappy, Hays Canada study shows. Retrieved October 18, 2017 from http://www.newswire.ca/news-releases/half-of-canadas-working-population-is-unhappy-hays-canada-study-shows-577775571.html