What is transpersonal art therapy?

This form of counselling empowers , encourages + enables people to access deeper meaning , self awareness + realisation through creative self expression .Transpersonal (TP) Art Therapists facilitate the client towards  being  the author of their own healing journey. This takes the form of supportive, client centred counseling coupled with insightful, liberating, artistic expression.

TP Art Therapy draws from the East and West, from modern and ancient wisdoms, and embraces the spiritual essence of each individual. Transpersonal Art Therapy is NON judgemental, non interpretive and non analytical. A five-minute scribble/doodle may hold more meaning for an individual than a three-hour oil painting. Only one person knows the meaning of the created artwork i.e. the client. The transpersonal Art Therapist’s role is to assist in the navigation and the safe journey towards healing, understanding, growth and self-realisation.

What is transpersonal?

The word ‘Transpersonal’ has many meanings.  Essentially, in this context, the transpersonal is the fourth stream in the development of western psychology. It stems from a solid foundation.

The first stream in western psychology, Psychoanalysis is dominated by Freud (1856-1939), Jung (1875- 1961), Winnicott and Reich. Vienna ,1900, was an exciting European  hub for artists, musicians and intellects. It is from this Jewish, aristocratic, Austrian culture  that western psychology was born.

The second stream in the developement of western psychology is the Behaviourist, dominated by Ivan Pavlov (1849-1936), illustrated by the celebrated story of Pavlov’s dog. When the dog hears the bell, it salivates, ready to eat. This is a conditioned response. i.e. all human behaviour is conditioned.

The third stream is that of the Humanist. So what about the human?
This movement was lead by:
Maslow (1908-1970) – Famous for his Hierarchy of Needs pyramid
Fritz Pearls (1893- 1970)  - Gestalt awareness
Carl Rogers  (1902- 1987) – Client centred approach to counselling and self-actualisation.

The fourth stream is that of the Transpersonal. Whilst there is distinct links with Jung’s spectrum of consciousness, archetypes and mask/persona/shadow, the movement was led in the 1960’s by Stanislov Grof ( b.1931). He pioneered research into the use of altered states of consciousness for the purpose of healing. growth and insight.
Following  his LSD work, Grof explored ‘drug free’ accesses to  altered states of mind and consciousness.

RD Laing (1927-1989) was linked with the existential and anti-psychiatry movements, challenging the pathological approach to psychiatric diagnosis.
Laing introduced the concept of ‘spiritual emergence’ and ‘spiritual crisis’….as an alternative to the understanding and diagnosis of mental illness.

Other influences in the transpersonal stream inc Luckoff, Wilber, and Masl.

Other ways of viewing the transpersonal:

Psychology + spirituality

A place where EAST, WEST, MODERN AND ANCIENT wisdoms meet.

The transpersonal approach to therapy is supported by three streams of philosophic inquiry.

• Phenomenology – the mind observes what is happening without judgment
• Humanism -  the individual is the author and architect of their own experience
• Existentialism - the individual’s search for meaning in their own experience.


What to expect

What happens typically in an Art Therapy session with David Starr ?
David, primarily, is a client-centred counsellor. That means that he is more concerned with your perspective on issues, rather than his own or any theories. Is more focussed towards assisting you in your own healing journey.
The client-centred  approach is supportive and safely contained. Creative exploration through art   excels the client’s movement towards healing.  Guided by a carefully chosen process, the client will draw, paint, or mould a free flowing expression from the inner (rather than the intellect) . This process will be structured around an issue which needs  resolution, healing or understanding. A consultation will typically begin with shared dialogue around the issue, followed by the artwork. Further, unfolding dialogue provides facilitation for the  client to move towards self awareness, understanding , meaning  and healing.
The key is that the insight, awareness, and realisation… comes from the client, not the therapist.


“The longest journey you will ever take, is the journey inward….”