Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Recovering Balance After the Big Leap: Overcoming Challenges in Integrating Spiritually Transformative Experiences (STEs)
by Brook, Marie Grace, Ph.D., Sofia University, 2017, 173; 10600749
Abstract (Summary)

In the aftermath of spiritually transformative experiences (STEs), experiencers (STErs) have sometimes reported prolonged integration processes that were challenging. STE was defined as a discrete experience of an altered state of consciousness that brings about a profound transformation in the spiritual identity and life expression of the experiencer. These include experiences such as near-death experiences (NDEs), kundalini awakenings, religious conversions, and mystical experiences. Clinicians have suggested strategies helpful to STErs in the integration process, but to date those suggestions have not been examined empirically. The purpose of this study was to assess the extent to which STErs themselves endorsed those suggestions. The Integration of Spiritually Transformative Experiences Inventory (ISTEI) was created by the researcher based on seasoned clinicians’ suggestions of 84 practices, habits, and behaviors that can be helpful. Participants were recruited through online STE networks and social media. Out of 431 respondents who began the ISTEI, 245 met criteria for integration as assessed by the 5-Item Mental Health Inventory, and transformation as assessed by the Posttraumatic Growth Inventory-Short Form. Participants rated 80 of the 84 practices, habits, and behaviors as helpful. Twelve practices were rated by all participants as essential (4.0 in a Likert scale of 1-4) including (a) practicing compassion, humility, forgiveness, honesty, and gratitude; (b) practicing self-awareness and exploring the unconscious; and (c) supportive practices such as finding serene environments to allow expansion of awareness to unfold, reading spiritual literature, praying, and sharing with another person. A key finding was that across a variety of STEs, there was consistency regarding the integration practices rated as helpful, and that psychiatric care and medication were usually not found to be helpful, and even contraindicated for persons integrating STEs (p < .001). Correlation tests between helpfulness and frequency of use showed that STErs gravitated intuitively to what was the most useful for them (p < .0001). Both STErs themselves and the healthcare providers who serve them can use these findings to facilitate STErs’ post-STE integration processes. Limitations and suggestions for future research are discussed.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Lukoff, David, Rominger, Ryan
Commitee: Holden, Janice
School: Sofia University
Department: Residential Transpersonal Psychology
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 78/12(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Psychology, Spirituality
Keywords: Psycho-spiritual, Spiritual emergence, Spiritual emergency, Spiritual transformation, Spirituality, Spiritually transformative experience
Publication Number: 10600749
ISBN: 9780355091892
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