A Psychotherapy of Love: Psychosynthesis in Practice
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
Illuminates the role of empathic love in psychotherapy.
This book shows what psychosynthesis looks like in the empirical practice of psychotherapy. Originally conceived by Italian psychiatrist Roberto Assagioli, psychosynthesis is one of the first Western psychologies to include theoretically both the psychological and spiritual dimensions of the person and to address healing and growth at both of these levels. In effect, it offers an approach to psychotherapy founded in altruistic love, a love that nurtures the innate drive within human beings to embrace and actualize the whole of who they are. Authors John Firman and Ann Gila explore how this empathic altruistic love impacts the actual therapeutic situation and what is involved for the therapist in providing this love for another. They include experientially based models and theory, case studies from both the client and therapist perspectives, and an invitation for both the professional and the layperson to the self-reflection, inner work, and commitment necessary to love and work at this depth.
“A Psychotherapy of Love is a practical and profound book, solidly based on the authors’ decades of experience as therapists and as teachers of psychosynthesis. It is filled with illuminating examples of therapeutic interactions and theoretical perspectives from a wide variety of sources—including Freud, Jung, Adler, and Rogers. It also includes spiritual insights from transpersonal psychology, Western mysticism, and Buddhism.
“For Firman and Gila, psychosynthesis is a psychology of love, a powerful statement which challenges popular mechanistic approaches to psychotherapy. This book is essential reading for anyone interested in pursuing psychotherapy as a loving, compassionate, and spiritually grounded profession.” — Robert Frager, Founder, Institute of Transpersonal Psychology
“The subject of empathy is nowadays at the forefront of scientific research, and at the basis of all successful psychotherapy and counseling. Firman and Gila show us empathy in its deepest aspect—as spiritual empathy. Their insight throws new light on the nature of relationships, as well as on the practice of the helping professions. This book will do much to improve the quality of our presence with the people in our lives. It is a splendid tribute to the mystery of love.” — Piero Ferrucci, author of Beauty and the Soul: The Extraordinary Power of Everyday Beauty to Heal Your Life
these moments we feel ourselves to be “It”s rather than “Thou”s, to use Martin Buber’s (1958) terms. Primal wounding thus produces various experiences associated with facing our own potential non-existence or nonbeing: isolation and abandonment, disintegration and loss of identity, humiliation and low self-worth, toxic shame and guilt, feelings of being overwhelmed and trapped, or anxiety and depression/despair. (Firman and Gila 2002, 27) In order to avoid this personal annihilation, we will
these levels of experience faces not mere puzzlement and curiosity from caregivers, but active rage, shame, and emotional abandonment. In the following chapter we shall further explore the nature of primal wounding, but let us now return to Assagioli’s model of the person and examine “I,” the mysterious “who” to whom all of these levels of the unconscious belong. “I” O R PERSONAL SELF “I” or personal self (with a lowercase “s”), with the attendant field of consciousness and will, is pictured at
therefore don’t notice” (Maslow 1971, 26). Although Assagioli did not use the concept, “survival,” he summed up the survival mode well by what he called “this central problem of human life” and “this fundamental infirmity of man.” In fact, it is to heal this fundamental infirmity that he dedicates his system of psychosynthesis. He writes: In our ordinary life we are limited and bound in a thousand ways—the prey of illusions and phantasms, the slaves of unrecognized complexes, tossed hither and
therapy has been called the “world channel” by Amy Mindell: The world channel emerges when we are attracted to the natural environment and animals, the world or world issues, the weather, other countries and politics, wars, political leaders, or anything larger than an individual or relationship. Sentences, such as “the world is strange” or “so much is happening in the world it makes me cry,” indicate the presence of the world channel. (Mindell 1996, 75) Mindell further points out that taking
various ways according to the various concepts of Reality held by the different types of human beings. Essentially, it means tuning in and willingly participating in the rhythms of Universal Life. In Indian philosophy, this is called sattva, the guna of rhythm and of harmonious response to divine urge. The Chinese call this attitude wu-wei, or identification with the tao. For the Stoics and Spinoza it has been the willing acceptance of one’s “destiny.” For those having a devotional nature or a