Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Psychotherapy-Methodology, Object relations (Psychoanalysis), Self psychology, Transpersonal psychology, Spirituality, Psychology and religion, Change (Psychology), Personality change, Transformational change, Spiritual emergency, Mental health, Object relations


This theoretical study examines the phenomenon of transformational change (TC) and explores how mental health clinicians can use object relations theory and self psychology along with transpersonal psychology to increase understanding of TC. Initially an established conception of TC is presented. Next, TC is compared with similar phenomena; spiritual awakenings, mystical experiences and quantum change. Then the history of spirituality and religion within the fields of psychology, social work, and substance abuse are reviewed. From this historical review it is inferred that a predominantly disparaging view of religion has created a therapeutic environment inhospitable to exploration profound spiritual experiences. This study proceeds to examine previous research that explores spirituality and religion through object relations theory and self psychology. As well, research regarding transpersonal psychology, a psychology that has specifically studied extreme spiritual states, is incorporated to consider how transpersonal psychology views and works with phenomena similar to TC. This information is used to postulate how TC may be perceived through object relations and self psychology. It is then proposed that with an awareness of and better understanding of TC clinicians can be more prepared to appropriately assess and treat people who have experienced TC, or are in the midst of TC.




iii, 65 p. Thesis (M.S.W.)-Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Mass., 2011. Includes bibliographical references (p. 59-65)