Just as Freud's original psychoanalytic theory spawned many fruitful offshoots, Wilber's Integral theory of consciousness will likely birth a variety of Integral psychology models.  The central underlying principles here are that:

1. Integral psychology is developmental bio-psycho-social-spiritual psychology.  Its practice is a combination of healing and growth work.

2.  Integral psychology is the study of consciousness and its manifestations, not only mental processes and behavior. 

3. Integral psychology is not integrative or multidisciplinary, but a synthesis similar to a harmonic in music or a hologram.  Individual models can be used alone or as fully synthesized blends.

4.  Integral healing and growth work will eventually be able to synthesize states and stages according to an underlying Integral paradigm. 

5.  Psychotherapy and growth work are research based.  All systematic research methodologies from all academic fields are admissible but partial (see Zones for examples).  Criteria for evaluating research depend upon an Integral metatheory and paradigm, which Wilber has founded but which needs clarification.  This is AQAL research.

6.  AQAL research not only helps to develop healing and growth work practices but also enables us to ask about the meaning of life or whether there is a God. 

7.  Key terms, such as development, reality testing, ego, relationship, and mental health need updated definitions.

8.  Just as Freud’s original theories branched fruitfully in many directions, so will Wilber’s Integral theory of consciousness develop according to other perspectives. 

Perspective of Joanne Rubin, Ph.D.

 In any given moment, we are consciously and unconsciously aware of some things and blocking awareness of others.  At all times, we are thinking, feeling, sensing, and intuiting, and each of us has our own style of doing this.  Omniscience is not an option, but openness to the unknown is; the more we know, the more we know that we don’t know. Therefore, the healthiest position to take in life, in my opinion, is to love self and love others as much as possible, to expand our capacity for joy and pleasure, to avoid unnecessary pain, and to grow and heal from necessary pain.  The goal is always to be fully human, not super-human, to be more and more yourself, both grounded and spacious.  I believe it is our nature to digest experience and then want more novelty and pleasure.  We don’t like loss, unless we want to get rid of something.  Abandonment feels wrong.  Helplessness and loss of personal control feels wrong.  Not having a sense of wholeness and identity feels wrong.  Those are some of the dangerous developmental perils that can occur on the path of psychological development (attachment, separation-individuation, integration).  I suspect that no one gets through childhood completely unscathed.  It would take a near perfect bio-psychological constitution, near perfect parenting, and no undue environmental stresses, and the odyssey through childhood is still demanding.  There are necessary losses for every gain, in every stage of development and enlightenment.  In my opinion, the only enduring happiness is in the essence of the experience of consciousness itself, of the experience of sentience that even underlies pain.  In states (of consciousness) training, and in development, and in psychotherapy/growth work, we increasingly make what is unconscious, conscious. To feel really alive is a joy that trumps all the addiction fixes we cling to.

So effective psychotherapy unhooks us from past woundings and frees up a lot of energy.  Different therapy models help best with different kinds of symptoms, so professional training in more than one model, or at least knowing the limitations of any one model, is necessary to an Integral psychotherapy. 

Growth work is developmental psychology combined with biology, environment, and spirituality.  Bio-psycho-social-spiritual (AQAL) life span development is a nascent theory, and I strongly believe that Wilber has only provided a bare bones holographic theory.  It is up to mainstream professionals to combine what we already know with the Integral felt-sense worldview.  Self-help and popular psychology applications of Integral theory are very useful, but only to a point.  The marker of health and increasing maturity is balance between all opposites and increasing depth and breadth of conscious experience.  But each person will always have an unconscious, and the unconscious ultimately runs the show.  I think it is a dangerous self-deception to think that one is fully conscious.  It takes years of training and personal therapy to skillfully do archaeology of spirit and of self [1].  But the primordial urge to heal and grow is perennial, even if it might take lifetimes.  The immediate moment is where the magic happens, and according to Wilber, the deepest consciousness always already is, even if we’re unaware.  

 [1] Wilber, K. (2000).  Integral Psychology, Chp. 8.


"Client" or "Patient"?

* I generally use "client" and "patient" interchangeably, but will use "client" in this website.  "Patient" denotes a more passive, receptive role, especially in Western medicine.  "Client" suggests a more active role and acknowledges abilities and resources already existing in the client.  I think both are partially true but incomplete.  I use "client" to recognize the agency (conscious and unconscious) of the person.  

TheIntegraltherapist offers a client a holding environment of emotional safety and freedom for self-discovery, working through of suffering, and new growth which results. 

TheIntegral growth coach or mentor helps people utilize existing skills in new situations, transfer skills in one developmental line to another, and develop next-stage capacities toward specific behavioral, situational goals.*

*See http://www.coachfederation.org/files/IndCred/ICFCompetenciesLevelsTable.pdf

Integral Psychotherapy and Growth Work

Integral Psychology NY