Kathy Hadizadeh, MSc, ICF PCC, CPCC
Integral Psychotherapy is an approach to psychotherapy (both medical and psychological) that encompasses the full spectrum of human consciousness and its potential pathologies (as well as treatment) as well as its embodiment in the organism and neurophysiology and embeddedness in the networks of sociocultural, environmental, and economic relationships.
This multidimensional integrated condition of human beingness-in-the-world is called “the AQAL matrix” (as famously conceptualized by Ken Wilber). Integral Psychotherapy fully implements this AQAL perspective in its understanding of a human being (for further information on the AQAL approach see the entries: Integral Psychology, AQAL; see also, e.g., Elliott Ingersoll and David Zeitler’s book Integral Psychotherapy: Inside Out/Outside In and Andre Marquis’ book Integral Psychotherapy: A Unifying Approach).
The application of this approach is up to a particular individual or school of psychological thought. Sometimes this is accompanied by an actual synthesis of various practical methods and modalities that encompass more or less a full spectrum of levels of consciousness and practices aimed at all quadrants (as, for example, in Holoscendence). Generally, Integral Psychotherapy goes beyond mere eclecticism into an integrative meta-synthesis that is grounded in the Integral AQAL Framework.
Integral Psychotherapy is mostly developmental and based on an understanding how various dysfunctions, “addictions” and “allergies” can be created during the process of human development and unfolding both through (vertical) stages of maturity and (horizontal) states of consciousness.
There is a difference between integrally-informed psychology/therapy and a truly Integral psychology/therapy.
An integrally-informed approach is that which takes into account and is cognitively aware of the AQAL matrix though continues to gravitate to a particular method which might be limited to a single quadrant (for instance, a phenomenological consciousness dimension) or level (for example, working only with and/or within the rational stage of consciousness), and attempts to contextualize it within an overall all-quadrant understanding (possibly referring their clients, when needed, to other experts who specialize in a different dimension of the AQAL matrix).
A truly Integral psychology/therapy is a set of integrated practices which intentionally takes into account and enacts the full AQAL matrix while its practitioners have access at least to what is called holistic and integral stage or stages (or levels) of consciousness development.
The integral stage of consciousness in its most mature form can embody a holistic transcultural and metahistorical vision (thus significantly transcending the limitations of any given culture-specific and time-specific era). Generally, representatives of this later stage of maturity are engaged in an ongoing inquiry into most profound existential and spiritual questions of what it means to be a human being. In this search, they have been looking for a whole experience of humanity, transcending but including shared knowledge, sanctioned in a given society, while gaining a profound insight into how our human experiences are constructed. Such people also tend to practically work on integrating virtually dozens of different paradigms (approaches and perspectives), being interested in diversifying their methods to life rather than sticking only to a limited set of aspects of modalities.
This level and scope of awareness (i.e., the Integral stage) are necessary if one aims at comprehensively co-enacting and co-constructing a better and more wholeness-based reality which transcends more narrow views which are limited merely to one quadrant or level or line or state or type, etc. Only genuinely transpersonal stages of consciousness development surpass the Integral stage (or stages) in the depth of wholeness that they are capable of handling, enacting, and embodying.
A striking feature of any genuinely Integral psychology or psychotherapy is its acceptance and profound understanding of the spiritual (or transpersonal) dimensions of human consciousness and reality, while being very serious about understanding more common, material and economic aspects of life.
See also: Integral Psychology, Integral Meditation, AQAL
This entry was written initially for awarenow wiki
Author: Eugene Pustoshkin www.awarenow.io/eugene