The Gold at the End of the Rainbow: A Hermeneutic Study of a Therapist’s Spiritual Experience

by Ellen Schupbach

Manuscript, 2004



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This dissertation investigates the concept of spirituality in as it arises organically within the therapeutic session. It explores the spiritual aspects of one therapist’s experience while working with clients. Its conceptual framework includes the notion of the spiritual in the mundane as it appears within the context of psychological and spiritual practices. The study explores concepts from Buddhist cosmology, with a particular emphasis on those that correspond with concepts and practices from the psychological tradition, specifically the Process Work paradigm. Within this qualitative approach to inquiry, an exegetical, hermeneutic approach was applied as the interpretive method by which to analyze the data. The three aspects of enlightened mind; knowledge, compassion, and wisdom, as defined by Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche (1939/1991) were used as the comparative framework for analysis. Findings showed a “romantic” element in this therapist’s spiritual experience of communion with the divine, including devotion, prayer, reverence, formlessness, intrigue, longing, and grace. For the purposes of this dissertation, “romance” was defined as “A mysterious or fascinating quality or appeal, as of something adventurous, heroic, or strangely beautiful”. Poetry was used to name the themes in the findings, as a method by which to express the romantic, ungraspable aspect of this therapist’s experience, which cannot be sufficiently expressed in linear language alone. Outcomes suggest that spiritual and romantic aspects can potentially be accessed through the practice of therapy, bringing a greater sense of meaning and inner fulfillment that could act as an antidote against the burnout and mild depression that practitioners in the helping professions often face, perhaps as a result of attempting to be useful to the client rather than to the spirit.


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