The Terror of the Divine in Psychotherapy Thomas Cooper (Cleveland Clinic (ret), Cleveland Hts., OH ) P1
This poster presentation proposes expanded awareness of spirituality in psychotherapy session content and process, taking a wide lens to spiritual experience and language, including deeply felt emotions, everyday and non-ordinary states of consciousness, the numinous and anomalous, all of which are commonplace among persons seeking mental health services. The author explores the phenomenology of defense against and avoidance of such material, especially in therapists and neglected in the current literature, bridging several psychological frameworks (psychodynamic, Jungian, transpersonal) while drawing on traditional and nontraditional sources from both Eastern and Western perspectives. Although not prescribing specific strategies or techniques, the case is made for an integrative approach to spiritual expression, suggesting a unique potential for deepening co-created meaning for psychotherapy clients, and reflective of notions of unitive consciousness shared by many ancient and contemporary wisdom traditions. Also suggested is the idea of enhanced sensitivity to spiritual expression through exposure to aesthetics, especially poetics.