It is interesting to follow the work of a visionary. As early as 1910, the neurologist and psychiatrist Roberto Assagioli (1888-1974) of Florence, Italy, saw the need for psychology to include the innate spiritual aspect of human nature: he chose the term psychosynthesis to emphasize the interactive effects of psychological and spiritual development.  Later on in his work, he said that the term transpersonal may be a better word than spiritual for health professionals to use since it is more neutral.  Assagioli, along with Carl Jung, is considered to be the pioneer of  transpersonal psychology. From a health perspective, he saw that transpersonal/spiritual discoveries bring breakthrough understandings and new courage to face the difficulties of life.  As a result, health professionals, creative- and spiritually-minded people of every background and clergy of every faith have sought out psychosynthesis-trained professionals.

Assagioli’s work sprang from both the scientific study of the human mind and the long mystical traditions of both East and West. Perhaps his single greatest influence was Dante (1265-1321), a fellow Florentine who described the steps of the Western spiritual journey in his world literary masterpiece, The Divine Comedy, which has had more books written about it than any other book in history except for the Bible.

The special feature of psychosynthesis psychology is that it recognizes the need to balance the three primary desires in our nature – biological survival, social belonging, spiritual realization. A 100 years ahead of his time, Assagioli included many forms of meditation, imagery, visualization and energy work in his medical and psychological practices. Professionals in psychotherapy, nursing, medicine, counseling, psychiatry, psychology, pastoral care, social work, chiropractic, body work, coaching and other helping fields have integrated psychosynthesis into their training.

“Spiritual realization is the direct personal experience of the aspect of you that is identical to the energy pervading the universe.”

— Roberto Assagioli

Origins

Roberto Grego was born in 1888 in the Jewish ghetto in Venice, Italy. His father died when he was two, and his mother remarried a Dr. Assagioli. Young Roberto took his step-father’s last name and, by the age of seventeen, was enrolled in medical school in Florence. Upon graduation, he studied the then new form of psychotherapy, psychoanalysis, corresponded with Sigmund Freud, trained at Burghölzli with Eugen Bleuler, received supervision from Carl Jung and was one of the founding members of the International Psychoanalytical Association.

Roberto Assagioli

The young doctor (L) The last year of life (R)

He served as a doctor in the Italian army in World War One. Upon the return to peacetime, Assagioli felt ready to begin to teach his psychospiritual synthesis – psychosynthesis psychology – and opened his first training institute in 1926. At the start of World War Two in Europe in 1939, he was arrested for being a Jew by the Italian Fascist police and was put in solitary confinement. In his cell, he meditated for hours every day and declared he had achieved freedom from circumstances: “A sense of boundlessness, of no separation from all that is. A sense of universal love. A wonderful merging. No separation – only differing aspects of wonder…Essential Reality is so far above all mental conceptions. It is inexpressible. It has to be lived. Joy inherent in Life Itself, in the very Substance of Reality.” (Strikingly, the latest neuroscience refers to such an experience as absolute unitary being when the higher region of the brain is awakened by meditation and other practices.)

His prison enlightenment led him to vow that, if he ever got out, he would “help to free people from their inner prisons.” Later released, but under police surveillance, he eventually had to hide in the Tuscan hills with his only child. The boy, Ilario, contracted tuberculosis, and Assagioli desperately tried to bring him across the border into Switzerland to get treatment. His letters asking, unsuccessfully, for help from his Swiss colleague, Carl Jung, are heartbreaking. His son died soon after the war was over. His wife and he were reunited and settled in Florence where their house became by 1950 a psychosynthesis training institute. A visit to Assagioli’s library shows that he read many books on loss and grief and underlined and folded key passages to refer to for help.

He was clear that psychosynthesis psychology was not a movement to be promoted but a process to be learned and practiced inside each person. Taught at training institutes throughout the world, one of the four forms of psychotherapy approved by the European Union, and a graduate degree specialty at English universities, our goal is to increase the awareness and use of Assagioli’s visionary work.

Bonney and Richard at Assagioli's institute

Bonney and Richard at Assagioli’s institute

Psychosynthesis Psychology Training

We study together in small groups online. You are guided by seasoned professionals who have been utilizing and teaching psychosynthesis for many years. After learning the basic concepts and methods, the student is encouraged to match their training with their own needs, receiving ideas, feedback, guidance and support to advance their own practices.

Please be in touch with Dr. Richard Schaub with any questions: drrichardschaub@gmail.com

Instructors: Bonney Gulino Schaub, MS, RN (Huntington NY USA); Richard Schaub, PhD (Huntington NY USA); Yoav Dattilo, PhD (Rome, Italy); Michael Follman, MA (Bethlehem, Pennsylvania USA); Victoria Gulino, MS, LMHC (Huntington NY USA); Barry Simon, MD (Toronto, Canada); Heidi Taylor, PhD, RN (Fort Worth, Texas USA); Mary Beth White, MS, RN (Huntington NY USA).