Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The integration of transformative workshop experiences
by Vega, Selene Kumin, Ph.D., Saybrook University, 2009, 233; 3391170
Abstract (Summary)

Participants in workshops often report enormous shifts in perspective, changing basic beliefs about themselves and the world. However, returning to daily life routines may entail difficulties ranging from inability to incorporate newly learned attitudes, behaviors, and communication modalities outside the workshop setting to "spiritual emergencies" where pre-workshop levels of functionality cannot be established. This multiple case study explored challenges facing workshop participants and supports for sustaining transformations and integrating a new worldview, self-image, and value system into daily life. Study participants included five individuals who had difficulty integrating new perspectives and behaviors into everyday life after a transformative experience in a workshop. They ranged in age from 36 to 55 with transformative workshop experiences occurring between 2 years and 36 years before this study. Data consisted of face-to-face interviews with participants and one spouse, telephone interviews with two workshop leaders, email correspondence, journal and notebook entries, and photos of art projects. Data analysis focused on content analysis and identification of major themes. Material gathered from questionnaires used to screen participants was included in theme descriptions. Four major theme groupings emerged: challenges to integration, supports for integration, relationship with the teacher, and outcome. Challenges at the workshop were processing personal experience, not feeling understood, and self-doubt and questioning. External challenges were communication with others and difference between norms at the workshop and in the external world. Internal challenges were the incompatibility of previous beliefs, personality, training, and history with new ideas and behaviors; fading of the "high"; meaning-making; grounding; and intensification of the inner critic. Supports for integration were practices after the workshop, practices at the workshop, social support, workshop factors, awareness/perspective/attitude, impact of the work; rooted traditions, remembering the experience, preparation for leaving, transpersonal perspective or experience, and previous work. Relationship with the teacher themes were view of the teacher; follow-up and accessibility; projection and transference; providing a safe, strong container; and feeling deeply seen. Major outcome themes were understanding/insight/awareness; shifts in orientation, motivation, emotional state, self-efficacy, self-esteem, direction, and action taking; tools; presence in the moment and connecting to the numinous; heart and/or spiritual opening; and discernment and authenticity.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Lukoff, David
Commitee: Combs, Allan, Krippner, Stanley
School: Saybrook University
Department: Consciousness and Spirituality
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-B 71/02, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Developmental psychology, Clinical psychology
Keywords: Integration, Psychoeducational, Psychospiritual, Transformative, Transformative experiences, Transpersonal, Workshop
Publication Number: 3391170
ISBN: 978-1-109-63119-7
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