After graduating with a degree in transpersonal psychology, newborn alumni face an interesting situation: on one hand, the sky’s the limit, and on the other hand, the transpersonal vision is yet too fresh and novel for the world to fully express its appreciation in the form of easily available jobs. One of the fields where the expertise in transpersonal psychology can translate into a meaningful and gainful vocation is Pastoral Counseling. While a career in pastoral counseling requires a specific degree, it can also spring forth from one’s expertise in spiritual and transformative practice.
The International Congress of Pastoral Care and Counseling, will be held in San Francisco on October 15-21, 2015. At this conference, Sofia University Professor Olga Louchakova-Schwartz will give a talk on Prayer of the Heart: Transformative Practices in Clinical Pastoral Education. This presentation on the research and practice of embodied contemplative practice of internal prayer can be used as an essential tool in training of the chaplains, counselors, and those who work with death and dying. While any learning includes transformative aspects, there is a way to mutually enhance the content-learning and the transformative aspects by the use of introspective practices which have specific, scientifically measured psychological and cognitive effects. Research conducted by Professor Louchakova demonstrated that selected practices of embodied introspection and internal prayer can be adjusted to meet the needs of higher education and training of helping professionals.
This presentation will be based on the results of Louchakova’s longitudinal application of these areas in personal practice, in higher education in the field of psychology, and in teaching spirituality. She will present the research on the psychological and spiritual outcomes of these practices; and the neurological and physiological mechanisms that are involved in the generation of positive change. The practice can be flexibly adjusted to meet one’s needs. It induces organic, natural and individualized positive transformation of character; growth of intuition and empathy; development of altruistic traits; mnemonic effects; and the increase of flexible intelligence.
In this workshop, Professor Louchakova-SChwartz will introduce the basics of this approach with reference to the Sufi Dhikr of Divine Names; Christian Prayer of the Heart; Hindu Atma-Vicara a.k.a. self-enquiry; and similar practices from other traditions. Of course, positive transformation does not happen overnight and is not expected to be the result of this workshop; however, the workshop will have 75 percent of its time allocated to experimental activities which can be used by the participants in their future work.
For Sofia students in transpersonal psychology, this will be an excellent opportunity to do career networking and get to know this professional field.