Integrative approach to psychology

V. George Mathew
Integrative Psychology Institute
Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala

Integrative Psychology (Mathew, 1998) is an attempt to combine modern Western Psychology with ancient oriental wisdom. Integrative Psychology is humanistic, holistic and naturalistic. Reality is a continuous projection from pure consciousness to the physical level. Pure consciousness is unitary and beyond space and time. Spacial and temporal separateness becomes complete only at the physical level. The body, to a large extent functions like a machine and analytic and mechanistic methods can be very useful tools of research and application at this level. What we call the mind is certain range of vibrations below the physical and what we refer to as the soul is a range even below the mental level. The physical methods of science are most appropriate in studying physical phenomena at the physical level. Blind application of these methods to study behaviour and experience and limiting Psychology to this commits the folly of ignoring the rest of the personality belowthe physical level. Treating behavioral phenomena, ignoring the holistic nature can not only be ineffective in the long run, but can even be harmful. Integrative Psychology is defined as the study of consciousness, mind and behaviour. The Integrative Psychologist is a person who, in addition to cognitive learning or information gathering and skill acquisition, has undergone and achieved at least a minimum degree of personal growth/integration. A person can be certified as qualified to handle Integrative Psychology only if he has achieved a certain minimum degree of personal integration. Courses in Integrative Psychology emphasise holistic personal growth much more than cognitive or skill training.

Integrative Psychology puts the miximum emphasis on intuition, both at the level of theory formation as well as verification. This is the primary level. Secondary level is in terms of shared opinion by several people qualified in Integrative Psychology. What is generally termed as "objective verification" is given only tertiary importance. However, the three levels of verification are kept separate and never confused with each other. Full verification implies collecting evidence at all the three levels. The subject matter of Integrative Psychology covers all aspects of behaviour and experience, but self-experience, self-exploration and self-transformation is given primary importance and all other topics are primarily approached and studied through this. At the level of helping others in distress, therapy largely changes to life-style correction, personal growth and re-education. The professional becomes more or less a catalyst for change and his work becomes truly client-centered and his primiary duty is to make the client realise his own responsibility for correcting his own life-style. To be a succssful professional using integrative methods, one has to recognise the role of one's own personality ineffective psychological service and correct blocks resulting from wrong occupational self-image and self-centeredness.

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This paper was presented at the
National Conference on
Yoga and Indian Approaches to Psychology

Pondicherry, India, September 29 - October 1, 2002