The Spiritual Psyche in Psychotherapy : Mysticism, Intersubjectivity, and Psychoanalysis book cover
1st Edition

The Spiritual Psyche in Psychotherapy
Mysticism, Intersubjectivity, and Psychoanalysis

ISBN 9780367542559
Published November 10, 2020 by Routledge
258 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

This book examines the interaction of spiritual and psychoanalytic lineages with psychotherapy in everyday practice. Written by a team of seasoned clinicians and illustrated through clinical vignettes, chapters explore topics pertaining to the mystical dimensions of psychological and spiritual life and how it may be integrated into clinical practice.

Topics discussed include dreams, dissociation, creativity, therapeutic relationship, free association, transcendence, poetry, paradox, doubleness, loss, death, grief, mystery, embodiment and soul. The authors, clinicians with decades of experience in psychotherapy, psychoanalysis and spiritual practice, draw from their deep engagement with spirituality and psychoanalysis, focusing on a particular theme and its application to clinical work that is supported by the generative conversation among these lineages. At once applied and theoretical, this book weaves insights from the heart of Vajrayana Buddhism, Zen Buddhism, Christianity, Catholicism, Ecumenicism, Integral Spirituality, Judaism, Kabbalah, Non-violence, Sufism and Vedanta. They are in conversation with psychoanalytic perspectives including Jungian, Post-Jungian, Winnicottian, Bionian, Post-Bionian and Relational.

A felt sense of the spiritual psyche in clinical practice emerges from this conversation among spiritual and psychoanalytic lineages, beckoning clinicians ever further on the path of spiritually rooted, psychodynamic practice.

Table of Contents

Editors’ Introduction

Willow Pearson and Helen Marlo

1. Inhabiting the Spiritual Psyche

Willow Pearson and Helen Marlo

2. Letting the Light Get In

Katherine Olivetti

3. Thoughts on Mystery, Paradox and Doubleness

Robin Bagai

4. Depth Psychotherapy and Spiritual Inquiry: Jungian and Transpersonal Perspectives

Bryan Wittine

5. Soul Home: The Kabbalah Dance and Jungian Psychoanalysis

Robin Eve Greenberg

6. Reckoning with the Spiritual Truth of Aversive Emotions: Evolving Unconditional Positive Regard and Discovering the Good Enough Clinician

Willow Pearson

7. Surviving through Destruction: Reading Gandhi in Winnicott

Shifa Haq

8. Out of Dissociation into Creation through Relation: A Depth-Oriented and Jungian Perspective on Psychological and Spiritual Experience

Helen Marlo

9. Caesuras of Dreaming: Being and Becoming, Thinking and Imagining

Willow Pearson

10. Allowing the Creation

Mitchel Becker

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Willow Pearson is director of Clinical Training and associate professor of the Clinical Psychology Department at the California Institute of Integral Studies. A psychologist, psychotherapist and music therapist, she has a private practice in Oakland, California, serving adults and couples.

Helen Marlo is Professor and Chair of the Department of Clinical Psychology at Notre Dame de Namur University in Belmont, California. A psychologist and psychoanalyst member of the C.G. Jung Institute of San Francisco, she maintains a private practice in San Mateo, California.


This is an amazing book. A series of wondrous explorations of the beauty and range of spiritual-psychological dimensions of human experience, their interaction, interface and contributions. I thought of the words 'psychoanalytic spirit' as a channel that gains support and nuance from clinical, philosophical and mystical studies this work opens, at once practical and expressive, poetical and pragmatic. A profound affirmation of human life, who we are, who we can be. It was a relief to feel open support for the positive energy of kindness and care our psyche can breathe, so needed now when too often we tear ourselves and each other apart. This is a unitary work that gives a multitude of tendencies and capacities their due and situates them in a larger whole.

Michael Eigen, PhD., author of Faith, Contact with the Depths, The Sensitive Self, and The Challenge of Being Human


The ten chapters of this book circumambulate ways that spirit emerges autonomously to illuminate the process of psychotherapy. Through specific clinical examples, the authors make clear that analytically-oriented treatment, whether grounded in the affects of the transference or in dream images, will not be truly transformative unless it respects what psyche wants us to pay attention to from the standpoint of the eternal. The stories they tell are profound, demonstrating not only that the spiritual dimension of psyche affects the way we live, but also that the end of life insists on this level of completion. With a wonderfully orienting introduction by co-editors Willow Pearson and Helen Marlo.

John Beebe, author of Integrity in Depth


The Spiritual Psyche in Psychotherapy: Mysticism, Intersubjectivity, and Psychoanalysis is a rich, thoughtful and thought-provoking contribution to the analytic field at a moment when contemporary psychoanalysis has begun to embrace the challenge of opening to the reality of mystical experiences in clinical practice—a challenge that has had a long, complex and controversial presence and history in psychoanalysis, ever since it was introduced into psychoanalysis by Freud in 1921. Defined through ontological 'being' and 'becoming' rather than 'knowing,' the mystical sensibility woven by the ten chapters, deepens the very ground of clinical work and delves into a yet unknown and more radical dimension of therapeutic interconnectedness and the spiritual nature of the human psyche.

Ofra Eshel, faculty, training and supervising analyst, Israel Psychoanalytic Society; head, "Independent Psychoanalysis - Radical Breakthroughs", Tel-Aviv University; author, The Emergence of Analytic Oneness: Into the Heart of Psychoanalysis (Routledge, 2019).