What is Psychosynthesis? Psychosynthesis was founded by Roberto Assagioli, an Italian who lived and worked in Florence, which for a long time was the centre of study for Psychosynthesis, from the early 1900s to the time of his death in 1974. Much of Assagiolis work was lost during the Second World War as he was imprisoned bu the Fascists and his writing destroyed, he then had to rewrite his ideas in the Post war period.
Robert Assagioli had initially studied the work of Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung before developing his own approach to psychology and psychotherapy. He was a life-long friend of Carl Jung, but he viewed life as a developmental journey and ahead of his time viewed problems as opportunities which can assist and are complimentary to an individual progression and evolving sense of self.
Although its roots are in psychoanalysis, Psychosynthesis is a transpersonal psychology and seeks to contact the deepest centre of identity, the Self, to nurture, repair and restore. The psychosynthesis guide therefore works to facilitate connection with this most crucial aspect of ourselves in order to develop a sense of wholeness.
If you wish to find out more and in depth, then there is an excellent Wikipedia article here, or you can look at The Psychosynthesis and Education Trusts (PET) Website and I would recommend "Psychology with a Soul, A: Psychosynthesis in Evolutionary Context" (Jean Hardy), but I am unsure if it is still in print,
This pdf: The Seven Core Concepts for Psychosynthesis Training, perhaps explains thing most succinctly but the following 2 books are superb starting points.
At the heart of Psychosynthesis therapy is the client and counsellor relationship. This relationship needs to be an authentic one of trust, because as trust is established so the real healing, growth and change can occur.
Psychosynthesis does not claim to be the only way to heal or conduct therapy, just that it might be a way for you to try and that there are other ways.
Psychosynthesis training, which I undertook over 3 years at the Psychosynthesis and Education Trust, graduating in 1997, is more than just an exercise in the academic or counselling skills. The counsellor training and professional development focuses as much on the counsellor as a person and his/her presence with clients as it does on the models and methods of psychosynthesis. The counsellor must be familiar with the terrain of psychospiritual development, especially their own, in order to fully appreciate the therapeutic journey of the client. If you are thinking about becoming a counsellor I would thoroughly recommend it, the PET have some superb introductory courses and the main counselling and psychotherapy course is exceptional.
Psychosynthesis practices what it teaches. It is in many ways a coming together of ideas of great value from different therapeutic areas, a meeting of east and west and of mind body and spirit. A synthesis of facets of all therapies. At different times different aspects of its teaching are appropriate. What it asks of its therapist/guides and our clients is the same: a coming together of valuable but differing parts of each of us, a synthesis of our many facets which might help us revision ourselves and bring together the tools we need to cope, heal or grow.
If I look at in terms of how we vision ourselves my favourite analogy is that of the person as an orchestra.
If you imagine an orchestra, with all its sections and subsections and the idea for that orchestra to play music to it s full potential, it must have a score, and a conductor and know that what it has to play is appropriate for the time and place. As an individual the ideal place to be is in the centre, as a conductor, you can see the whole musical score and make choices about which section to bring in and when, your love for the music and the notation and the people and instruments of the orchestra allows you to bring out the best from them. To this you must be educated in music, read it understand it and love it, be able to identify different instruments and musicians and know and appreciate the different sections and their role. You must be able to call down the spirit of the music and know the composer and the management of the theatre are right behind you.
But what if during rehearsals the conductor leaves the room, goes out into the large theatre and gets lost in the corridors and while he is away the lead violinist takes over except s/he changes the score to one with a little more violin, or perhaps violins only and the other musicians or sections become irritated. The drum section decides to play its own piece and the brass begin a battle with the string section. There is no longer a central figure able to call the sots each separate section thinks it is the centre. So conflict begins and the music is nevr quite what it should be. Some times the conductor has left and get s lost sometimes he is pushed from the podium by other influences.
" 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 thither by external influences, blinded and hypnotized by deceiving appearances…. No wonder that he, not knowing or understanding himself, has no self-control and is continually involved in his own mistakes and weaknesses; that so many lives are failures, or are at least limited and saddened by diseases of mind and body, or tormented by doubt, discouragement and despair. No wonder that man, in his blind passionate search for liberty and satisfaction, rebels violently at times, and at times tries to still his inner torment by throwing himself headlong into a life of feverish activity, constant excitement, tempestuous emotion, and reckless adventure. (Assagioli 1965)"
This same orchestra is touring and needs to make informed choices of what to play in front of differing audiences and cultures and how to play and when. Without a conductor and without acknowledgement of the composer or the production management neither the inner workings of the orchestra or its outward performance will ever happen in a productive joyful or satisfactory way
However if we were to bring things back to balance, bring back the lost conductor, or if there has never been one, educate one to know his or her orchestra and bring the orchestra together to play great music you can see how this would need a synthesis of the many aspects of differing music and musicians and the acceptance of a core central figure and in fact a higher power or energy. So it is with psychosynthesis.
"We may think of psychosynthesis then, as the process by which we develop an ongoing relationship and at times communion with Self. This relationship with Self may in turn at times allow the experience of union or connection with all things—whether or not we and those things are fragmented or whole, in harmony or conflict." (Firman 1991)
But this model is highly simplistic and Roberto Assagioli said himself:
The limit of psychosynthesis is that it has no limits. It is too extensive, too comprehensive….
And so it is with the realisation of ourselves, and the help I can give you as a counsellor to liberate you from all that holds you back….as described by Marrianne Williamson in her book 'Return to Love' and used by Nelson Mandela in his inauguration speech as first president of the new South Africa.
"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."