Academic Articles

Examining the Effects of Holotropic Breathwork in the Recovery from Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, 1995, Byron A. Metcalf, M.S., NCAC II, CAS, 14 pages.


The effects of Holotropic Breathwork were examined in twenty adults recovering from alcoholism or other chemical addictions. The major underlying issues and concerns affecting this population were individually assessed to determine the clinical efficacy of utilizing Holotropic Breathwork in psychotherapy and treatment settings. The test sample consisted of ten men and ten women who were interviewed utilizing a self-reporting, structured survey. Results indicate that Holotropic Breathwork is an effective therapeutic tool for treating alcoholism and drug addiction. The results of this particular sample also suggest that Holotropic Breathwork could prove very beneficial in the area of relapse prevention. Each category examined showed marked improvement or a positive outcome. The highest improvements were in the areas of depression and anxiety; feelings and emotions; family relationships and intimacy; stress reduction; self-esteem and spirituality.

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Stanislav Grof's Holotropic Therapy System, by Peter A. Jackson, 1996.


This 50 page paper is based on presentations Peter Jackson made at the Nelson Conference of the New Zealand Association of Psychotherapists in March 1996 and at the First World Congress of the World Council for Psychotherapy in Vienna, Austria, July 1996. As he says in his introduction, his purpose was to provide a comprehensive introduction for psychotherapists to the therapeutic approach reflected by Holotropic Breathwork including both theoretical and practical aspects, comparing and contrasting it as well to other approaches to psychotherapy. The document includes a report (pages 27 - 46) of an empirical study conducted with 38 breathwork participants that explored some very interesting dimensions. For example, the study indicates that HB may for some individuals reduce the frequency and intensity of substance usage (alcohol and/or drugs). Jackson himself notes that the study, although seriously undertaken and done with care, does not qualify as scientific research, but the results are interesting and provide valuable hints about possible fruitful directions of future scientific research. As well as being presented here in its full length, this document is available on the internet at this link.

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Transpersonal Psychotherapy with Chemically Dependent Clients, 1999, by Brack Jefferys, PhD. 


The purpose of this study, a monograph based on the author’s doctoral work, was to assess the effectiveness of incorporating transpersonal psychotherapy into traditional approaches to the treatment of chemically dependent clients. The complementary nature of professional psychotherapy and self-help groups such as Twelve Step recovery was also explored. The subjects in this study were 29 adult clients treated at St. Joseph's Addictions Recovery Program in Asheville, North Carolina. The sample consisted of 20 males and 9 females that completed a 13 month outpatient treatment program for chemical dependency. The subjects were followed for one year post-treatment by an independent employee assistance/managed care firm to determine treatment outcomes. Results of the analyses of client outcome data indicated that this model offers an effective treatment approach for this group of chemically dependent clients. 


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Holotropic Breathwork - Healing Through a Non-ordinary State of Consciousness, by Nicola Crowley, MD, 2005.


The paper is based upon a talk delivered by Dr. Crowley on May 9th, 2005, at a special interest group meeting of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, UK.

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Psychosis or Spiritual Emergence? Consideration of the Transpersonal Perspective Within Psychiatry, by Nicola Crowley, MD, 2006.


This paper was awarded the essay prize by the executive of the Spirituality and Psychiatry Special Interest Group, Royal College of Psychiatrists, UK.

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Psychotic Episode or Spiritual Emergency? The Transformative Power of Psychosis in Recovery, by Nicola Crowley, MD, 2007.


This is another paper by Dr. Crowley explaining how episodes considered psychotic in traditional psychiatry can have the potential for healing.

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Spiritual Madness and its Many Definitions, According to Hafiz, Western Psychology, and Stanislav Grof,  by David Razmgar, 2009.


This paper examines the relationship between the definition of Spiritual Emergency as observed by Dr. Grof and the state of Divine Madness described in Persian Sufi Literature.

Spiritual madness-Hafiz-Grof-Psychology.[...]
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This monograph by Stanislav Grof describes the development of Transpersonal Psychology in the 1970's from Abraham Maslow's Humanistic Psychology, which had been developed in response to the limitations of behaviorism and Freudian psychology that Maslow termed the First and Second Force of psychology. He called Humanistic Psychology the Third Force, but within a few years he and his colleague Anthony Sutich became dissatisfied when they understood they had omitted an extremely important element from their conceptual framework; the spiritual dimension of the human psyche (Sutich 1976).


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Men, Loss and Spiritual Emergency:

Shakespeare, the Death of Hamnet and the Making of Hamlet


Peter Bray


How does a father manage the death of his son or his father? What might a playwright do? This article proposes that confronted with the multiple loss of his son Hamnet and subsequently his father John, William Shakespeare experienced a transformational consciousness event or “spiritual problem” (DSM IV), defined by Grof and Grof as a “spiritual emergency” (SE), which he explores through the making of his masterpiece Hamlet. The play’s central male character is a fine example of an instrumental masculine response to coping with loss. It is argued that the depiction of Hamlet’s struggle towards self knowledge can be explained in terms of Stan Grof’s model of transformation. In his play Shakespeare expresses a unique view of complicated masculine grief and loss. Through Hamlet’s soliloquies he explores and maps the terrifying terrain and rich interior world of his own psychic journey and transformation.

A broader framework for exploring the influence of spiritual experience in the wake of stressful life events: examining connections between posttraumatic growth and psycho-spiritual transformation


Peter Bray: Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Eastern Institute of Technology, Hawke's Bay, New Zealand


Abstract: The literature suggests that spiritual domains of experience may be influential to an individual's growth in the aftermath of stressful life events. This paper explores the role that spiritual experience might play in the process of posttraumatic growth by examining two quite different approaches to transformational growth: Lawrence Calhoun and Richard Tedeschi's posttraumatic growth model; and Stanislav and Christina Grof's framework of psycho-spiritual transformation. Both approaches are briefly outlined, compared and discussed. Some observations are made about their shared understanding of the human potential for growth and the significance of spiritual experience in the struggle to master distressing life events. A further hypothetical model is presented that marries the two approaches and offers the opportunity for individuals in the posttraumatic process and helping professionals to examine their experiences in a broader context.


MHRC Article 2009(6).pdf
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Counselling Adolescents when “Spiritual Emergence”

Becomes “Spiritual Emergency”


Peter Bray


Abstract: This article provides a rationale for a closer examination and recognition of unusual consciousness events in adolescence that have a specifically spiritual content of the kind described by Stan and Christina Grof as “spiritual emergency”. A case vignette is discussed in the light of new understandings about how non-ordinary spiritual experiences in adolescence, triggered by loss and grief, can lead to self-actualising outcomes. This article will broadly discuss these experiences and suggest attitudes and strategic positions that counsellors can adopt to help them recognise spiritual emergence and spiritual emergency in their adolescent clients, and to encourage their disclosure and support.


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Traumatic Loss and Spiritual Crisis in Adolescence, by Peter Bray, PhD, 2006

Abstract: This article extends Grof‘s (1985, 1993,1998 & 2000) work on psycho-spiritual transformation by discussing whether adolescents can experience ‘spiritual emergency’ (SE). Grof contends that the human psyche when stimulated by the trauma of loss spontaneously integrates this new material opening the individual to experiences of gentle spiritual emergence or disruptive and overwhelming SE. Unlike psychoses, the individual maintains a capacity for adaptive decision-making and transformational insights. Confirmation of SE, particularly in the wake of adolescent loss, poses important questions for counsellor training, practice, supervision and spiritual awareness.


This article briefly addresses a theory of adolescent transformation through SE by outlining a model of adolescent development and the psyche, which will also include some of the possible characteristics and effects of this transformational experience on adolescents. It will recommend that further research be undertaken to establish whether SE occurs in adolescence, and concludes with a few implications for counsellors and counselling.


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Meaningful voices: A phenomenological exploration of auditory hallucinations in individuals with schizophrenia.


Rochelle Suri, PhD


Abstract: What does transpersonal psychology have to say? Hearing voices or auditory hallucinations have been considered and investigated from various schools or branches of psychology. Psychoanalysis, cognitive-behavioral psychology, neuropsychology, humanistic psychology and psychiatry (among other branches), have shed light on the nature and causes of hearing voices. These disciplines have sought to discover means of managing or coping with the voices, providing sufficient literature on the same (see Bentall, 2003; Fadiman & Kewman, 1979; Romme; 1993). However, there appears to be a dearth of research and literature on transpersonal perspectives on hearing voices. Transpersonal Psychology, considered the fourth force of psychology, provides a unique view of hearing voices, respecting the voice hearers and their experience. Simultaneously, transpersonal psychology is concerned with finding ways to integrate the experience of voice hearing into the individual’s day-to-day life. Nonetheless, as a branch of psychology, transpersonal psychology has been overlooked by psychologists who are primarily interested in the behavioral, developmental and cognitive facets of the human experience.  Hence, this paper aims to illuminate the contributions of transpersonal psychology to the experience of hearing voices. Elaborating on the tenets of transpersonal psychology, as well as focusing on the etiology, nature and approaches to hearing voices from a transpersonal lens, this paper will highlight a radical perspective on voice hearing. Transpersonal and spiritual implications of voice hearing will be discussed, as well as the pioneering work of Grof (2000), Jung (1960), Lukoff (1985) and Nelson (1994. Transpersonal approaches within psychotherapy will also be elucidated through brief case examples.


The Hearing Voices Network supports and guides individuals to find meaning in their voices.



This monograph by Stanislav Grof details his optimistic interpretation of the transformational possibilities inherent in the Mayan prophesy concerning the conclusion of the Maya Long Count calendar that ended on December 21st, 2012.

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Introduction to Transpersonal Psychology-The Research of Stanislav Grof.


Renn Butler was certified by Grof Transpersonal Training and facilitates Holotropic Breathwork in Victoria, British Columbia. He is a writer with a career as a health care worker in a group home for the past sixteen years.

Introduction to Transpersonal Psychology[...]
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Perhaps All Our Dragons


In this article, Oliver Williams, Director of Rebecoming, details testimonials from breathwork participants in Rebecoming workshops, a description of breathwork’s emergence from the field of Humanistic Psychology and demonstrates its unique value and utility as a stand-alone modality within the larger framework of Transpersonal Psychology. 2009.

Perhaps All Our Dragons - long final.pdf
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