Learning at Sofia University: A Student’s Perspective

By Yifan Wang

I wanted to share my experience as a student of Sofia University’s Doctor of Transpersonal Psychology program.

Formerly called the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology, my school was founded in 1975 with the intention of providing an education in transpersonal psychology.

But what does transpersonal psychology mean?

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For me, it means the experience of life beyond the self. According to Abraham Maslow’s Hierachy of Needs, transpersonal psychology would be on the level of self-realization and self-transcendence. The theories of transpersonal psychology are built into all of the programs at Sofia including the Bachelors, Masters, Doctorate and Certificate programs. It is also blended into the non-psychology degree programs like Computer Science and Business Administration. I believe this unique component helps graduates stand out from other applicants in the workforce.

Choices: Online, On-Campus, or Hybrid

One of the reasons why I chose Sofia University was its hybrid model of learning as I had been looking for a school that provided online learning and also face-to-face mentoring. Sofia’s hybrid format provides students with the flexibility to study anywhere in the world, with the opportunity to meet faculty and students in person through bi-annual on-campus seminars.

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For me, I prefer the hybrid format because it allows me to continue to work a job and engage in coursework when I have free time. I find that it’s also great for international students who may speak English as a second language because instructors are available for additional questions outside of classroom time via email.

Experience is learning. Learning is healing

Studying at Sofia requires a lot of hard work. There is a lot of reading, online discussion, and some experiential components. But there is another type of work involved while being a student at Sofia: the work of self-awareness. To make sense and gain insight into yourself is critical. It is imperative that we learn about ourselves in order to better understand others – especially in the healing field of psychotherapy.

I’ve learned unique and life-changing skills through my classes at Sofia. Our papers include both self-reflection, and sometimes art modalities that reflect and deepen our understanding of our childhood experiences, developmental stages, and relationships that formed who we have become as individuals. And, all of this self-exploration is held in a safe and private container. We have built good trust between each other.

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The most interesting course so far has been the martial art practice of Aikido, which is a requirement for all psychology students. We use Aikido techniques to re-experience verbal “attacking” and “defending” used in daily life. We explore how to redirect and renegotiate other people’s energy while maintaining a harmonious relationship with them.

Sofia’s learning environment creates a space where people respect each other without judgment. And the instructors act like spiritual surgeons, gently opening and closing their student’s life wounds with loving presence. I feel so honored to learn from them as they are masters in this field who have 15-30 years of clinical experience.

I’ve already gained so much from my experience as a student at Sofia University. I look forward to more learning, growing, and rich experiences throughout my journey here. I highly recommend this school to anyone who is interested in a unique learning experience that will not only provide you with academic rigor and professional training, but will also provide you with greater self-awareness and inner strength.

从前,有一个有趣的心理类学校

两周前发过一篇微信文章“不一样的标准答案”,有很多朋友对我走这条路挺感兴趣的,也表示出了对心理学,和对非传统的学习方式很感兴趣。那么这篇文章,让我来介绍一下我们这个“小精品”学校。

之前读过牛津大学的好处是他是一个好的敲门砖,另外一个特别大的好处是从此以后“妈妈再也不用担心学校排名了”,我可以自由的选择自己喜欢的学校。有人问我这个学校排名怎么样,我说这个学校没排名,可能都没参与排名。因为外界会定位这个学校非常”boutique”, 小精品的感觉。

我们学校叫做索菲亚大学Sofia University,以前叫做Institute of transpersonal psychology, 1975年建校。所以我们学校主打的就是transpersonal psychology, transpersonal 是啥意思呢,可以理解认为它是在自我(self)范畴之外的经历,比如说梦境,灵魂深处,深度的合一,马斯洛提出的人的需求理论的最高层级,自我实现和自我超越。这门课程是基本上学校所有课程的必修课,从本科,硕士到博士,或者证书课程,从学校传统的灵魂心理学,临床心理学到学校新开设和将要开设的计算机,和商业类课程。 从心理学来讲这是非常新的一个类别, 有别于精神分析,行为学,和人本主义。从非心理学课程来讲,学校让这些科目变得非常独特,让这些理科和商科科目注入了新的生命。相信你的经历会让你在人才市场或者是生活中变得的有特点,有别于其他竞争者从而可以脱颖而出。

怎么上学:线上,线下,还是线上又线下

这是我三年前为什么选择索菲亚大学的另外一个重要原因。我希望找一个学校可以线上读书,又可以有面对面和老师交流的机会。这样可以既不耽误工作,又可以有多重的学习体验。就是上图所示的Hybrid课程。1/3面对面授课,2/3线上教学。

索菲亚大学提供了非常灵活的学习方式。如果你想扎扎实实的呆在美国读书,可以选择来学校上课(on campus/residential)。如果你想完全线上(online/global)来上课,这样让自己的学习时间可以自己掌控,那么可以选在在国内或者其他任何有网络的地方。如果觉得网络没有让大家看见“真人”,完全泡在学校又不现实,可以选择半线上的课程(hybrid/low-residency)。

对于我来讲,我太喜欢线上的学习了。虽然线上课程,网络课程在我们国家,或者全世界都没有传统的全日制认可度高。但是学习效果可以非常好1)理论实践的完美结合,如果你一边工作一边读书的话,可以使得两边相互促进。 2)合理分配自己的时间。选择你想上学的时间上学,不用担心早上8点的课起不来了。3)讨论的内容都在论坛里面,可以随时查看,根本不怕跟不上,听不懂(可以查词,查百科),没机会表达自己观点的顾虑。4)一直在进行。这一点很容易让人忽略。网络的讨论和老师的在线解答时一直进行的。面对面的授课我个人的经历是,上完课一走人,什么内容都忘了。

总之线上的学习拿到的文凭不好听(半线上的就好听一些),但是真的能学的很透彻,可以规避掉很多面授的弊端。

体验就是学习,学习就是疗愈

在索菲亚的上课,更多是以阅读,讨论配合体验的方式。人和人其实没有太多的不同。对自己的认识和理解是任何自我提升中比较重要的环节。在索菲亚的心理课程的学习过程中,我们对自己的生命发展历程,儿时经历,和母亲的关系,性经历,成瘾/着迷经历进行了深度并且安全回顾,通过写文章,还可以通过各种艺术形式来表达。我们学校另外一门必修课,也是学生最喜欢的一门课就是合气道(Aikido),我们通过和同伴之间对抗练习来充分体会人和人之间的攻防是怎样进行的。每天面对各种压力“攻击”,怎样通过动作来优雅的防御,并且和攻击者保持良好的关系。通过招式的体会,我们可以自然的抵消,转化很多来自于外界的批评,刁难和施压。

索菲亚大学的另外的特点是这个学习社区(community),有一位著名的心理学家曾经说过从哪里受伤,就回到哪里去疗愈。人都是从关系和人群当中受到伤害,我们还要回到人群当中来治疗。所以,在这个学习者都很尊重对方的伤痛的环境中,学习者可以安全的说出自己以前的不好的经历,老师(以治疗师的身份)会同你的同组的学习者帮你轻轻的揭开伤疤,再帮你轻轻的缝合。在学习的几年中,学生可以深度才从各个角度看到自己的伤痛,人性中的不完美,也同时认识到自己的“资源“(正能量)。当然,从中你也通过给予他人的爱,来了解其他人,在给别人疗愈的同时让自己得到新生。所以,把自己的经历理顺出来,不逃避,用真实的情绪讲出来,再加上众人的接纳和包容,这是自己的治疗的珍贵体验,不是书本上学的来的。

请把手弄脏

我还记得我上学的前几天,老师就说了一句话我们不做role play,我们就拿出自己的问题给对方来练习。作为初体验美国这个文化,美国这个心理文化还有这个学校的文化时,有些事情真的不习惯。我看到我的同学在和老师做示范的时候,直接拿出自己而是强奸的经历, 有的同学直接拿出昨晚上做的噩梦,吓得直哭。虽然面对同学强烈的情绪和脆弱时,手足无措,但是这都是很好的实践机会。所以,两三年下来我们和彼此建立了很好的信任,也都做了彼此的治疗师,所以实习的时候我们基本上都已经”get our hands dirty”, 已经有了一些技能的基础了。同时还把自己做的治疗过程进行录音,然后逐字逐句的和老师进行修正讨论。这些都不会让自己像象牙塔出来的书生。

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Filed under About Sofia, Academics, Degree Programs, Sofia Profiles, Sofia Spirit, Students Speak

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