1.3 Historical Connections in the Humanistic and Transpersonal Fields1.3 Historical Connections in the Humanistic and Transpersonal Fields

The humanistic and transpersonal work (along with the existential and somatic traditions) began to become established as an organized tradition, or rather traditions, in the 60’s and 70’s, initially in California, and especially in and around San Francisco. Proir to that, Maslow (from 1954) and Rogers (from 1940) had been primarily responsible for formulating the humanistic tradition, along with May, Murray, Goldstein, Angyal, Allport, Murphy, Jourard and others in the holistic and existential fields. Maslow, Sutich, and Grof are the primary movers of the transpersonal tradition, as it manifested in the 60’s in California, but James, Freud and Jung can be considered precursors, while Assagioli in Italy is related, and Tart, Vaughan, Walsh, Wilber are later prominent figures, particularly Wilber. The transpersonal and humanistic fields have complex, multicultural roots in philosophy, spirituality and the arts from both Western and Eastern cultures.

The beginning of the establishment of these fields as distinct traditions was through correspondence, meetings and then conferences with interested individuals, initially in the 30’s and 40’s, publication of books and papers throughout the 40’s and 50’s, then establishment of organizations such as the Association for Humanistic Psychology (1962) and the Association for Transpersonal Psychology (1972). Stan and Christina Grof began to hold international transpersonal conferences in the early 70’s, and, in 1978, the International Transpersonal Association was established. Div 32 (Humanistic Psychology) of the American Psychological Association was established in 1971 through the work of Gibbon, Ellis, Harari and others.

During the 70’s, various graduate schools were established ( such as the California Institute of Integral Studies, Institute of Transpersonal Psychology , Saybrook Graduate School and Research Centre in San Francsisco, Pacifica Graduate Institute in Santa Barbara, Naropa University in Boulder), many of whom are now fully accredited, degree granting institutions. There are approximately 20 accredited graduate schools in the US. Some psychology departments also began to include these themes, and some became specifically focused in these traditions (especially University of West Georgia, Sonoma State University, Seattle University, Duquesne University).

Esalen was an important centre starting in the 60’s, where encounter ( Schutz), gestalt (Perls), holotropic breathwork (Grof) and other human potential traditions were established, as well as hosting people such as Bateson and Campbell. Primal therapy became prominent in the early 70’s, with Los Angeles, New York and Toronto being the main centres. Bioenergetic institutes began to be established in North America and, in Europe, Reichian and neo-Reichian training was established, Malcolm Brown being a leading exponent. Existential psychology became prominent, both in the US, through May, Bugental and others, and in England, where Laing extended this to social criticism, particularly of the mental health model itself. Gestalt centres began to be established around North America, including Toronto.

The Human Potential movement extended these ideas into the culture in general, through an elaboration of psychotherapy and spirituality as personal growth and consciousness expansion, into liberation of the whole person (including liberation of the body, emotions and sexuality), consciousness raising and feminism, activist politics, social justice concerns and deconstructivist social change, egalitarianism, a return to nature and environmentalism, and an appreciation of alternative ways of knowing and being from other cultures, including Eastern and indigenous spiritual traditions and epistemologies. Counter culture politics and social activism included a focus on mental health, education and organizational development. Although these themes have been carried in many ways in the North American counterculture of growth centers and organizations such as AHP and ATP, the main academic and theoretical work of study, writing, research has been done through graduate schools and university departments, with publishing carried by journals such as Journal of Humanistic Psychology, Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, Voices, Gestalt Journal, and publishing houses such as Spring, JP Tarcher, Shambhala. In the 70’s, Marilyn Ferguson’s newsletter Leading Edge brought news of developments in systems and chaos theory and the evolutionary paradigm out from the scientific tradition into the professional, holistic counterculture.

Toronto in the 70’s was an active center for the gestalt, primal, encounter, bioenergetics, Jungian and Reichian traditions, with, for example, the Clarke Institute of Psychiatry conducting encounter groups and hosting R.D. Laing’s colleague, David Cooper. Several teaching and professional practice centers were established. Dr. Thomas Verny was prominent at this time, in both encounter and primal, through the Centre for Holistic Primal Therapy. Jorge Rosner and Dr.Harvey Freedman, having trained with Perls, established the Gestalt Institute of Toronto, and Ken Allen and Carl Moore established the Institute for Bioenergetic Analysis. The Toronto Institute for Human Relations extended these concerns into training for ministers. Marion Woodman, Fraser Boa, Daryl Sharpe, Jim Shaw and others established the C. G. Jung Association of Ontario. Ted Mann, at York University, carried Reich’s work. There was a chapter of AHP established in the 70’s, with Connie Croll-Young (later Crystal Hawk) and Peter Campbell being the chief organizers. Therafields was a therapeutic community model for this work, with participants living together in communally operated houses that were also therapy centres. Psychedelic therapy for alcoholics was attempted by Dr. Gordon Bell at the Donwood Institute in the 60’s as part of his dialogical, holistic, caring community approach that he eventually brought to Bellwood Health Services.

These traditions did not go on to become generally established at the tertiary education level in Toronto, as they have done in the US, with some exceptions. Les Greenberg, for example, of York University Department of Psychology, has, with others, combined gestalt, Rogerian and existential models to establish Emotion Focused Therapy, which has become an internationally recognized tradition. In the 70’s, Dr. Verny, and others, established the tradition of pre- and perinatal psychology, initially based in experiences from the primal tradition in which clients regressed to what seemed to be birth and womb experiences and, in the work of Farrant, Chamberlain and others, back to conception. Later this tradition became focused in a broader way on pre- and perinatal psychology and health without so much emphasis on regressive psychotherapy. Santa Barbara Graduate Institute now grants degrees in this field, based largely on the initiative of Verny, who established the first degree in the field at St. Mary’s University of Minneapolis.The Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) has a number of programs and departments that include a focus on transformative learning, holistic curriculum, creativity and the arts, embodied knowing, spirituality, indigenous culture, feminism, environmentalism, community organization, global change. The University of Windsor graduate program in adult clinical psychology has courses in psychodynamic, experiential and emotion focused psychotherapies.

In the mid-70’s the Canadian Holistic Medical Association was established in Toronto, and, later (1997), the Ontario Society of Physicians for Complementary Medicine, to bring a more whole systems focus into health care, with particular attention to the psychological and spiritual dimension of health, and drawing on the natural world for healing modalities. The Ontario College of Naturopathic Medicine was established in the late 70’s as a post graduate program for chiropractors, medical doctors and dentists. In the early 80’s this became a full time, four year program graduating naturopathic doctors. Naturopathy and homeopathy are now in the process of being regulated, and the Ontario (now Canadian) College of Naturopathic Medicine has several hundred students, conducting research in many areas such as work place stress. There has been an annual energy psychology conference in Toronto for the last 10 years, organized by Sharon Cass-Toole of the Canadian Association for Integrative and Energy Therapies (CAIET). Crystal Hawk has been active in this field also.