0404 093 865

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Melbourne, Byron Bay or Skype sessions

Ph: 0404 093 865

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Managing Psychosis / spiritual emergency – the Transpersonal Approach


To quote John Watkins (2010) Unshrinking Psychosis: Understanding and Healing the Wounded Soul:


"Psychosis has always provoked strong responses and given rise to extreme interpretations. Considered by some as akin to a state of mystical illumination, this same phenomenon is viewed by others as the epitome of human failure and psychological catastrophe.


Extreme views of either kind are neither accurate nor helpful to those undergoing such crises and their social, emotional, and spiritual aftermath.


Psychosis is a complex phenomenon that encompasses a broad range of possibilities, both positive and negative. Appreciating its constructive aspects as well of those of a potentially detrimental nature, provides a sound basis for supporting healing and recovery."


I have a special clinical and teaching interest in working with people diagnosed with ‘psychosis’. The transpersonal approach has a particular understanding of the potential for some ‘psychoses’ to also potentially be healing crises.


The approach I utilise, while respecting the DSM (psychiatric) diagnostic framework, is non-pathologising. I have an open mind about the usefulness and appropriateness of medication, and can work with you whether you are on medications (such as neuroleptic / anti-psychotic, or antidepressants or anti-anxiolytics etc) or not.


Early, sympathetic and skilled intervention is particularly important for people experiencing episodes, for the person themselves and for their friends and families.


“… healing is rarely mentioned in connection with psychosis. There is now much talk about recovery but little appreciation of what it really is or what is required to bring it about. This unfortunate state of affairs is unlikely to change until there is better understanding of what people are recovering from.  […] Knowledge is the key to changing attitudes and beliefs.”

- John Watkins (2010) Unshrinking Psychosis: Understanding and Healing the Wounded Soul p.xiv-1


“Some patients have a mental illness and then get well and then get well and then they get weller! I mean they get better than they were … this is an extraordinary and little realised truth.”

- Karl Menninger (Psychiatrist), cited in John Watkins (2010), Unshrinking Psychosis: Understanding and Healing the Wounded Soul p.85


Psychiatrist Stan Grof, one of the founders of Transpersonal Psychiatry, explains:


"There exist spontaneous non-ordinary states that would in the West be seen and treated as psychosis [...] mostly by suppressive medication. But if we use the observations from the study of non-ordinary states and also from other  spiritual traditions, they should really be treated as crises of transformation, or crises of spiritual  opening. Something that should really be supported rather than suppressed. If properly understood and properly supported, they are actually conducive to healing and transformation.


[...] Many difficult episodes of non-ordinary states of consciousness can be seen as crises of spiritual transformation and opening. Stormy experiences of this kind – or ‘spiritual emergencies’, as we call them – have been repeatedly described in sacred literature of all ages.


Spiritual emergencies can be defined as critical and experientially difficult stages of a profound psychological transformation that involves one’s entire being. They take the firm of non-ordinary states of consciousness and involve intense emotions, visions and other sensory changes, and unusual thoughts, as well as various physical manifestations."

 - S and C Grof (1990) The Stormy Search For The Self: A Guide To Personal Growth Through Transformative Crisis 


A transpersonal approach allows that people experiencing major crises (such as schizophrenia, bi-polar disorder and other types of psychoses) may be greatly helped by transpersonal counselling. Transpersonal counselling can work very well alongside mainstream mental health services such as psychiatry, and does not preclude the wise use of medication. We can work effectively with mainstream mental health services, to offer an alternative perspective, and can provide practical help, and substantial relief, to people diagnoses with major mental health issues.


 Read more about Gina’s work with the Phoenix Institute, where she teaches students about both transpersonal and medical/psychiatric approaches to understanding and managing psychosis.




To make an appointment at send an email enquiry in inner Melbourne, please contact me directly on 0404 093 865 or send an email enquiry.