Core Model of the Transpersonal Arts in Therapy Training – Level 7

Our transpersonal approach embraces both the perennial philosophy and contemporary paradigms of social and spiritual wisdom, whilst incorporating established therapeutic applications of art and psychotherapy. Within a culture of reflective education and respect for ethnic and cultural differences, students are supported to become self-aware and aware of the other, both at an interpersonal level and at a wider level. When this is achieved, students begin to develop an introspective wisdom that is essential in their work.


We begin practically by developing awareness of oneself. This challenges the student’s habitual interactions, ways of thinking and behaving, interpersonal dynamics, value judgements, world views, and links between current and past behaviour. The method employed is “synoptic”, requiring the development of the capacity to hold several views without seeking resolution, in order that apparent contradictions can become pregnant with new meaning that encompass a richer significance or order of understanding. In encouraging this approach we set high expectations.


The theoretical underpinning of this programme focuses on two inter-related strands. The first is a wide theoretical spectrum of transpersonal approaches. Within this strand there is a particular emphasis on the understanding of human development and our physical and psychological functioning. Included in this stream there is a specific focus known as anthroposophy, described by Rudolf Steiner, whose work has been expanded by practitioners of art therapy, medicine and psychology including M. Hauschka, Dr. M. Glӧckler, R Sardello, B. Lievegoed, Dr I. Wegman, A. Zajonc and others. These transpersonal approaches are examined for their implications to therapeutic practice. The second strand is the contextualisation of these transpersonal perspectives within the larger field of Psychodynamic and Humanistic theory and practice, with particular reference to C. Roger’s Core Conditions, S. Freud’s psychodynamic theories (transference and counter transference, projection and projective identification) and W. Bowlby’s Attachment theory. W. Bion’s group process concepts inform work with groups. Thus we provide students with an in-depth theoretical underpinning for the practical and clinical aspects of the programme.


Central to our model’s epistemology is the concept of Salutogenesis, the origin of health. We believe that meaningfulness is one of the key factors in people’s ability to deal with stress and stay well. The term Salutogenesis was introduced by the medical sociologist Aaron Antonovsky (1923 – 1994) who stepped away from the traditional pathogenic approach. Instead of asking: “What makes us ill?” he wanted to know “What makes us well?” and turned his focus on our resources rather than our deficits. Thinking, being and acting with an inner trust that life makes sense and that we are here for a reason he identified as a human resource that reduces anxiety and promotes health.


Assessment and Treatment
In terms of assessment and treatment, the therapeutic arts practitioner works toward the balance of body, mind, emotions and spirit, whilst retaining an analytic standpoint, aiming to exercise feeling and thinking simultaneously. This therapeutic stance is one that allows for the development of research in many areas.


We teach a variety of research methodologies. One of the critical methodologies is structured observation: students practise Goethean observation, a phenomenological method of observing as described by Goethe as an assessment method. Another important research methodology that students practise is participation research, in which students objectively analyse their participation in the therapeutic process, emphasising the use of counter-transference.


Making art is a safe way of connecting with our life’s issues, developing and transforming them. The symbolic journey provided through the medium of art creates a real experience that directly impacts on our psyches, helping us to feel, think and act differently; the more we get to know and trust this process in our artistic work, the more we learn to recognise and trust it in our lives. Our creative adventure with art media thus becomes the creative adventure of life. This active engagement and exploration of our inner and outer worlds and of our place in humanity is at the core of effective art therapy.