The intention of all modes of therapy is to develop in consciousness. Traditionally, psychotherapy has focused on the mind, to the exclusion of other aspects of our existence. This emphasis has led to a generation of partial theories, each one with something to contribute, but none that encompasses the wholeness of our humanity.

Integral psychotherapy attempts to integrate or combine the techniques, research and theories from psychological, spiritual, scientific and medical 'wisdom' traditions known as the perennial philosophy or Great Chain of Being. Matter, body, mind, soul and spirit, together form a hierarchical structure of consciousness, and a way of mapping our potential.

Integral psychotherapists believe that a holistic perspective is essential in order for therapy to be effective. They consider social and cultural influences, and systems factors. Ken Wilber, a leading scholar of integral theory, summarises these factors in what he calls the four quadrants model.

A) interior individual - the intentional
B) exterior individual - behavioural
C) interior collective - cultural
D) exterior collective - social systems

These dimensions of reality often show up in society as art, morals and science. Integral psychotherapy includes science, art and morals all in the one context. This is a comprehensive theory of personality that explains, predicts, and guides human behaviour and change.

Integral psychotherapy is in many ways similar to other psychotherapies. The main difference is in the way a unified whole is created. By noticing patterns in one's behaviour and thought, and purposefully observing how the many aspects of one's life and world link together, a person develops a stronger sense of self and his/her place in the larger scheme of things. The stronger a person becomes, the more they are able to take responsibility for. Self development links to relationship growth, which relates to spiritual unfolding. Therapy expands awareness and opens up new possibilities, potentials become realities, and there is no limit to the exploration of depth and interconnectedness.

Peter Charleston