Category Archives: Students Speak

The Dreams We Dream: The Benefit of Digging in as a Tool in Psychotherapy

imgres-200x200Creative expression and psychotherapy go hand in hand, particularly in the fields of Transpersonal and Jungian psychology. Courses in the ITP at Sofia U doctoral program , such as the Psychology of Dreams taught by Dr. Stanley Krippner include archetypal influences in dream interpretation, the physiology of sleep and dreams, daydreams, and nightmares.

FB Animoto photosProfessor Emerita, Dr. Jill Mellick, who has been in private practice as a Jungian-oriented psychologist in Palo Alto for over twenty years and directed and taught Creative Expression in the masters and doctoral programs at the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology, also worked with dreams in her book “The Art of Dreaming: Tools for Creative Dream Work.” In this book she asks readers to think about how you enter the dream world and how you can you merge your dreams with creative expression.


We asked our students to take a moment to think about how dream work fits into their lives or even the lives of others. Here are some of their responses. What would you say?


“I have been an avid dreamer from a very young age. I find that my relationship to the realm of dreams is often as deep as waking reality, if not more so. I find support, questions, communication with my ancestors, symbolism, prophetic vision, melding of the worlds, and communing with spirit (and the deepest part of myself and my psyche) through this symbiotic relationship. I look forward to diving, ever deeper, as I walk through the remainder of my life.” – Sarah

Jungsm“I attribute all of my successes in life to my dream work from a Jungian perspective, which I was introduced to in my early 20s. I am in agreement with Dr. Russell Lockhart, that “everything has a secret soul,” (Psyche Speaks, pg 14), and I believe our dreams, if we listen, guide us like our own North Star, connecting us to that collective soul, and providing a “map” to show us the way back home to the Self.

Though I’ve been working with dreams for over two decades, it was Dr. Lockhart just this year, who introduced me into the notion that the dream is “just so,” and I can go much deeper by “allowing” myself to “experience” the Dream, rather than “interpret” the dream, and in this way, “take communion.” As such, a result of these encounters, I am open to exploring various Jungian approaches to the dream, that I will be able to use in my own work in the future as I’m beginning a counseling Psychology program this fall, with a focus on depth Psychology.” – Tanya

“I recently started working on allowing myself to have more lucid dreams. It has been fun. It’s almost like creating a small movie for yourself out of your own life every night, and you don’t know what to expect. Traditionally in my culture we didn’t like to dream. I used to always associate dreams with nightmares. But now I am enjoying the freedom to allow my hidden thoughts to come out.” Ting

“I love discussing and exploring my dreams with others after recording them in a notebook, looking over the themes in a dream interpretation source and connecting my dreams with my waking life. This has been a self learning process for me and I have never explored my dreams with a clinician or clients I have worked with. Although it is something I would enjoy delving into with clients.” Sabra

imagination-2699130_1920“The concept of language and what is seeking to be communicated equates to the symbolism behind truth, and that which seeks to be expressed. Truth is the consistent underlying factor behind the subconscious realm of the mind body and spirit. Everything we experience is emblematic in divine language. The projective force of truth is the very essence of universal communication. As we begin to co-create a relationship between ourselves and our truth we start to ask ourselves, are we being honest?

So much of illness and imbalance lies within what lies dormant, stagnant and residual calcified energy, energy that houses our well being, that seeks to move forward and expand and ascend in consciousness. In dreams our subconscious communicates. Patterns emerge that can only be interpreted by our own truth. These are valuable channels of healing and awareness that live in dreams and intuition, channels that seek to carry that energy forward into our waking lives.

Indigenous Toltec philosophy believes our entire life is a dream and our dreams are our reality. If this is true then are our experiences are “access points” towards a universal body consciousness. It’s a mirror of un-foldment to induce all the truth in knowing. Dreams can offer such a reflection …. the best part is this subconscious infinite well of truth is communicating whether we are awake or asleep. ” Kris

people-2562024_1920“I find dream work quite fascinating and to be one of my favorite therapy approaches. I have tried dream works as an experiment on myself before after attending the Dream interpretation in Spring intensive 2016 at Sofia University. I find using art expression to be one of the most helpful ways to express out my dreams and then to observe my art work to find the story my unconscious has tried to reveal about myself in my dream.

Using dream works has helped me discover and become aware of a lot of inner issues from my sub-conscious that I have been unaware about before, which has then helped me grow more as a person. Hence, from my own personal experience, I can tell that dream works can be very beneficial in various well-being practices such as psychotherapy, counseling, substance abuse, PTSD therapy, etc.” Sneja

ITP-logo_smallAbout The Institute of Transpersonal Psychology at Sofia University

Since 1975, the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology at Sofia University has continued to be an international leader and pioneer, moving humanity forward in the areas of transpersonal research and transpersonal education. training clinicians, spiritual guides, wellness caregivers, and consultants who apply transpersonal principles and values in a variety of settings.  The Sofia educational model offers students not only a solid intellectual foundation, but an extraordinary opportunity for deep transformational growth and personal experience of the subject matter. How does Sofia University accomplish this? The university builds upon its strong, whole-person psychological foundation to give students a greater understanding of the human condition.


Leave a comment

Filed under Students Speak, The Transpersonal

The Mind & Life Symposium : An Intellectual Estuary of Spiritual Confederates in a Transpersonal World

by Nicholas Boeving, Ph.D. Spring 2017 Graduate

Legacy. As we use the word today, it means a kind of heritage, benefaction, or gift — an ancestral endowment, passed from generation to generation. These are modern inflections, however. Originally, the word “legacy” translated into a “body of persons sent on a mission,” from the Medieval Latin word legatia, meaning an “ambassador” or “envoy.” Put differently, a legacy was not, etymologically speaking, something you inherited, but something you embodied.

Highlightmisccampus20111217_0160As a recent graduate of Sofia’s Global Ph.D. program in psychology, however, I have become increasingly aware of just what this rich transpersonal legacy actually means, both in the sense of an academic inheritance, as well in the more ancient sense of being an ambassador or envoy.

Both of these related, yet distinct, fields of awareness were brought into sharp relief upon my having been granted a scholarship to attend November’s Mind & Life Institute’s International Symposium for Contemplative Studies. Even during the application process itself, I realized that I was, in a very real sense, an ambassador of Sofia University. The symposium, which brought together leading academics, researchers, and contemplative practitioners, who live, think, and write at the intersection of neurobiological and contemplative inquiry, was a veritable who’s-who of contemplative science.

screen-shot-2016-10-31-at-4-26-22-pmThe Mind & Life Institute, while nominally committed to exploring the interface between science and Buddhism as two distinct but not incompatible methodologies with a common basic focus, in actuality embraces a full plurality of methodologies and contemplative perspectives that are not necessarily restricted to Buddhism. The atmosphere of the event itself was, in a word, electric. Each day was inaugurated with an opening meditation, followed by a variety of brown-bag lunches and a scintillating series of lectures and discussions by people who literally line my bookshelves — Roshi Joan Halifax and Sharon Salzburg — to name just two of the luminaries involved.

This atmosphere of intellectual playfulness and exploration was the brainchild of the American entrepreneur R. Adam Engle, who, upon learning of Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama’s interest in modern science, proceeded to arrange a dialogue for him with selected scientists. The Chilean neuroscientist Francisco soon joined the initiative and thus the first Mind and Life Dialogue was held in October 1987 at the Dalai Lama’s residence in Dharamsala, India for seven days of interdisciplinary and cross-cultural exploration. This was to be the first of many such events.

itp-logo_largeAcademic inquiry isn’t just about the subjects of study themselves, however, it is about the community of researchers who dedicate their professional lives (and much of their personal lives as well.) The Mind & Life symposium I attended was an intellectual estuary of spiritual confederates and the ideal location to network and plug in to the thriving community of contemplative researchers. I knew when I walked through the doors, I carried with me the academic DNA of Sofia’s legacy school, the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology, with me – that rich, illustrious lineage of top-tier scholars in transpersonal studies who were the real reasons I applied to Sofia in the first place.

I also knew that I, as a then-graduate student, was a living legacy myself, an ambassador of the transpersonal tradition, and the name of Sofia itself. A tall order to fill, to be sure, but one which I humbly and gratefully accepted. After all, Sofia’s legacy of transpersonal scholarship and transformative personal inquiry have much to offer the world of contemplative science. Indeed, there is much each tradition can learn from the other.

About the Author

nick2Nicholas Grant Boeving is a Los Angeles based writer, independent scholar, and consultant to the non-profit sector. He completed his PhD in psychology at Sofia University, with his dissertation A Luminous Doom: Death Anxiety Along the Spectrum of Substance Abuse and Recovery written under the directorship of David Lukoff, William Parsons, and Stanley Kripper, the legendary American psychologist and internationally known pioneer in the scientific investigation of human consciousness.

Nicholas did his graduate training in the psychology of religion under Jeffrey Kripal while a doctoral student at Rice University. He is currently a Senior Research Fellow of the 12 Step Institute in Los Angeles, CA, and Director of the Single Parents and Teens Foundation of Dallas. He has published in the areas of psychology of religion, new religious movements, and addiction studies. His primary research interests focus on the Recovery Movement as a form of “existential medicine.”

Leave a comment

Filed under Students Speak, The Transpersonal

The Art and Science of Healthy Relationships

screen-shot-2016-11-23-at-11-44-34-amBy PhD student, Michelle Pate, MA, MBA

Did you know there is a very important element to creating a healthy relationship that lasts? The people who have this in their relationship say it is what bonds them and makes their relationship grow. The ones who don’t have it either complain or get to work on improving themselves to be a good partner. Some don’t even know it exists and wonder why they get awful partners.

This element is so very necessary to our well-being, but many have been conditioned to not believe this element is necessary or obtainable in a relationship. They go through several years of continuous partnerships and are confused why it doesn’t last. Or they coexist in the relationship and spend most of their time in their separate worlds.

I was watching Oprah several years back and an amazing guest was sharing what makes relationships work. He had done several studies with couples and was showing his scientific results. Before this day, I did not know that relationships could be qualified as science! His information was so pertinent to my life that day, it permanently changed my goals and what I was looking for in a relationship. When I was learning counseling psychology in graduate school (2001-2006), I studied this man’s work in more detail to learn how to help couples have more successful relationships.

screen-shot-2016-11-23-at-11-48-05-amThis man was John Gottman, PhD. He is a psychologist, relationship expert, researcher, professor, and author who devotes his career observing couples’ interactions and writing books on his work. He now asserts that he knows on a scientific level what works for long term relationship happiness. He says he can predict in five minutes of observing a couple, with 91% accuracy, whether a couple will stay together or split up. This was a huge claim, and I had enough heartbreak, so I listened intently.

Gottman stated the evidence showed that a couple’s FRIENDSHIP is the biggest indicator in knowing whether they would be together years into the future. This is so blatantly obvious; I don’t know how I had missed it. I thought about the qualities I had in my close friendships and was determined to look for a relationship that had elements of friendship in them. It was tough for me, because I had seen a lot of dysfunctional relationships in my family. I was conditioned to believe I didn’t need a man, and it wasn’t possible to have a best friend in a partner. So with this knowledge from Gottman, I started to deepen my understanding and beliefs of what a good friend is and become this kind of person myself.


My list of friendship qualities I started to consider in a mate:

  • Do we genuinely LIKE each other?
  • Do we like spending time together?
  • Do we have things in common we like to do together?
  • Are we comfortable with each other?
  • Do we listen to each other?
  • Do we share funny stories and laugh with each other?
  • Can we relax and have fun with each other?
  • Do we simply like being together even when we aren’t doing anything?
  • When a conflict comes up, do we work together to find a solution?
  • Do we make up and reconcile after we have an argument?
  • Do we admire each other?

Good friends speak well of each other. The couples who make it long term speak highly of their partner. They are positive about the future of the relationship. They have many great things they admire about their partner. Their friendship is a bond of mutual affection and a refuge from the world.

When you think about your relationship, how deep is your friendship? Do you notice areas where you could learn more about your partner and contribute to their life? How can you learn more about them so you can support their dreams? How can you be a better FRIEND to your partner?

To read more about creating a deeper friendship with your mate, I recommend you read John Gottman’s book, The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work (I find it valuable even if you aren’t married). He has outlined many qualities of friendship and bonding that we can pursue to make our relationships even more satisfying and fun.

Taking your relationship to a deeper level simply by being more interested in your partner’s life is greatly nurturing to both of you. Friendship keeps you interested in the other person. Friendship helps a new relationship flourish. Friendship keeps long term relationships vital and alive. With friendship, there is always something new to learn about each other because we are deeply interested our loved one’s life.

To create more goodness in your relationship and to learn more about John Gottman and his work, please visit

You can also participate in helping couples achieve greater happiness in their relationships through Gottman’s Training Institute:

Core Clinical Training

Join the 60,000+ clinicians around the world that have trained in Gottman Method Couples Therapy and use our proven assessment techniques and interventions in their work with couples. Click here for more information.



Leave a comment

Filed under Students Speak, Uncategorized

What is Psychodynamic Therapy?

By Pierre Araman

Psychodynamic theory is a school of depth psychology encompassing the theories and ideas of famous psychologists and psychiatrists such as Sigmund Freud, Carl Gustav Jung, Erik Erikson.

Psychodynamic therapy focuses on accessing information hidden in the unconscious and utilizing different techniques to reduce psychic tensions. Principally, psychodynamic therapists concentrate on clients’ past relationships as well as the therapeutic alliance (the relationship between the client and the therapist) so as to uncover unresolved conflicts.

One theory is that childhood traumas can negatively impact present relationships and can lead people to develop unhealthy defense mechanisms, which are unconscious systems developed by a person’s ego to protect themselves against anxiety. Some of the most common defense mechanisms are denial (refusal to admit external reality/events), rationalization (inaccurate reasons to explain behavior), and projection (projecting personal negative traits onto others). By working through the defenses and restructuring the core of the psychopathology, psychodynamic therapists help clients cultivate better self-understanding and develop more accurate views of reality.

Techniques Used in Psychodynamic Psychotherapy

Psychodynamic therapists use different tools to access a client’s unconscious such as free association, transference / counter-transference, dreams interpretations, and insights from the client and the therapist.


  • Free associations are spontaneous and unconscious mental connections made by the brain. They are usually insightful and help therapists determine unconscious views of clients. In other words, the therapist says a word and the client says whatever comes to mind without thinking.
  • Transference and counter-transference refer to negative and/or positive personality traits that are projected onto the therapist by the client and vice versa. For example, a client might say that the therapist reminds them of a parent or a persecutor. Another example would be a therapist referring a client to a colleague because the client reminds them of their child or they are being triggered in some way.
  • Dream analysis speaks for itself. Some themes are recurrent while other require deeper personal interpretation/analysis by the client and/or therapist. Different interpretative tools can be used such as intuition/insights, mythology, metaphor, etc.
  • The therapeutic alliance is one of the most important interventions of psychodynamic psychotherapy. Therapists focus on their relationship with the client to determine the impact it may have on therapy. Some questions considered by a therapist might be: “Would the client be ready to hear this at this time? Does the client feel safe? Is there enough trust to inquire about a certain topic? etc.”
  • Psychodynamic psychotherapy also has its own diagnostic manual called the Psychodynamic Diagnostic Manual (PDM). Besides sharing a similar name with the Diagnostic and Statistics Manual (DSM), the DSM describes observable symptoms and the PDM outlines subjective experiences.

For more information on this particular form of psychotherapy, here is a preview from a book by Richard F. Summers & Jacques P. Barber (2010) named “Psychodynamic Therapy: A Guide to Evidence-Based Practice, as well as other resources.

Psychodynamic Therapy has been found through research to be effective. A study conducted by Jonathan Shedler (2010) called “The Efficacy of Psychodynamic Psychotherapy” states that clients “maintain therapeutic gains and appear to continue to improve after treatment ends”.

Psychodynamic therapy and Clinical Programs at Sofia University

Psychodynamic therapy is explored and practiced in different classes such as “History and Systems of Psychology”, “Psychotherapy Theory and Interventions”, “Clinical Practicum”, and more. We are currently covering this theory in my “Transpersonal Theory & Literature” class as well as practicing the different interventions through role playing with other students. Whether you are interested in the PsyD, PhD, or Master’s program; you will have access to in-depth experiences and knowledge of the theory at Sofia University.

Leave a comment

Filed under About Sofia, Academics, ITP Academics, Sofia Spirit, Students Speak, Uncategorized

Humanistic Therapy: The Healing Power of Empathy

by Pierre Araman


What is Humanistic Therapy?

Humanism is the study of an individual as a whole being. It is a perspective of psychology that looks at humans as innately ‘good’. Clients are considered experts on their own lives and thus, humanistic therapists do not psychoanalyze or judge. Instead, they focus on empathy through a non-directive approach that facilitates connection between client and therapist.

The goal of humanistic therapy is to focus on growth and self-actualization (self-development) and to help clients identify their strengths in the present moment. There are various types of humanistic therapies such as Gestalt, Psychosynthesis, and Solution-focused therapy, to name a few. One of the most famous humanistic therapy practices is called Client-centered therapy or Rogerian psychotherapy.

Client-centered therapy was developed by Carl Rogers in the 1950s from the perspective that people organically develop towards their full potential over time. However, life experiences such as trauma and accidents distort and/or block the drive to fulfill one’s potential.

Some life experiences are called ‘conditions of worth’. These occur when we evaluate our own experiences through the values and beliefs of others instead of ourselves. Many people do this by discounting their own experiences in order to receive conditional positive regard or acceptance from others. As a result, a Social Self and a True Self are created. The Social Self is a self-concept based largely on the expectations of others and the True Self is a self-concept based on our actual feelings about our experiences. In order for the Self’s to be congruent with one another, Rogerian therapists focus on cultivating unconditional positive regard for their clients.

Techniques used in Client-Centered therapy:

Since each client is considered unique and are considered the expert on their own lives, there are no specific techniques used in Rogerian psychotherapy. Rogerian therapists instead offer their unconditional positive regard, empathy, and skillful non-directive reflections in order to help their clients reach their full potential.

Here is a video of Carl Rogers practicing Client-Centered therapy. As you watch the video, you can see that he does not judge nor direct the client in any particular way:

Here are additional resources if you are interested to learn more about Carl Rogers or about humanistic therapies:

Here are also two studies demonstrating the effectiveness of Person-Centered Therapies:

Humanistic Therapy at Sofia University

The Master of Arts in Counseling program at Sofia University introduces the tenets and practices of Humanistic theory. The competent and compassionate faculty at Sofia University provide great insight into this theory and help students learn how to apply these skills in their work with clients. Classes such as “Critical Thinking in Clinical Psychology”, “History and Systems of Psychology”, “Psychotherapy theory and Interventions” are just a few of the classes that may introduce you to this type of work.

Special thanks to Dr. Sersecion’s lecture on Humanistic Psychology.

Leave a comment

Filed under About Sofia, Academics, ITP Academics, Students Speak, Uncategorized

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?


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.


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.


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.



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。



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。






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。

Leave a comment

Filed under About Sofia, Academics, ITP Academics, Sofia Profiles, Sofia Spirit, Students Speak

When a New Life is Calling You – How Will You Respond?


How I Came to Sofia University

Kimberly Anne ChristensenKimberly Anne Christensen, 4th year – PhD in Transpersonal Psychology

Many students come to this school because it is a CALLING! We have been directed through signs or spiritual messengers to come here. This is not a NORMAL school.(Smiles). Clearly, there is something very special about this school which attracts people that believe or recognize in another level of consciousness. Coming to this school is a sure sign that you are seeking a non-traditional approach that recognizes something within you that is crying out for expression and can transform not just yourself, but send ripples of transformation outward to all who come in contact with you.


1864411974_fa6b7b02f9_zI woke up one morning in April 2012 after a dream in which I saw myself in San Francisco and I didn’t know why. I was hundreds of miles away in Yreka, CA, wondering what I would be doing in this 3rd phase of life. I had no job or source of income, but knew I was supposed to get my doctorate. Two weeks later, in a guided meditation on my life purpose, I imagined myself standing on a beach and saw on a huge banner laying on the sand displaying the words TRANSPERSONAL PSYCHOLOGY. I was shocked. I never seen words in my meditations and had no knowledge of this field of psychology.

When I looked it up on Google with a keyword search of San Francisco, I found a school that seemed to fit the bill – the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology actually existed and offered doctorate degrees! FYI. Once I made this connection, I was consistently sent messages and photos and signs that I was to move my life to San Francisco Bay Area. The synchronicity was evident!


hqdefaultOriginally from Southern California, this was a big move for me. I had never lived in the Bay Area before and I didn’t know anyone. But I kept moving forward. I applied to the school and made an appointment to visit and learn whether I had what it took to be part of the doctoral program.

That appointment in July changed everything and convinced me this was the right place for me. There were 3-4 Admissions counselors who all greeted me by name and they were some of the most caring people I had ever met. They were eager to show me the campus and point out the growth that was coming.

The school had recently been renamed Sofia University, and they completely believed in the future of the school.

Then I met with the kindest woman named Genie Palmer for my interview. She embodied my understanding of transpersonal and also made me feel SAFE. She told me how my dreams would fit in with the school and the program of my choice and clarified all the details.

When my interview was over, the admissions staff offered to drive me back to my hotel so I wouldn’t have to endure another 1 hour or more trip on the bus! My security needs were met, and the financial aid office assured me everything would be okay.

I never got housing squared away until I got here, and my financial aid check was not ready since I applied late, but to my surprise, some very generous and kind students took me in for free!

This is the nature of the school — THE HUMAN TOUCH. Kindness. Mercy. Generosity. These are qualities that ripple throughout the staff and faculty of this school.


6660064659_5bd12b756a_bFast forward four years and it’s 2016. I have passed my proposal and am ready to conduct my research on the use of guided imagery in science to raise academic test scores for 3rd grade students (I was a former educator). I now also work at the school, beginning in the Dissertation office with Dr. Carol Haefner, and now with the Marketing and Communications department to help promote and share our special and unique gifts with others across the world.

I love Sofia University.  I am happy I heeded the call. I know getting my doctorate here is helping me fulfill my dream of opening up a charter school that provides the same kind of caring, compassion and transpersonal practices that Sofia/ITP has shared for 40 years.

Learn more about the residential Transpersonal Psychology doctorate program

Leave a comment

Filed under About Sofia, Academics, Career, ITP Academics, Sofia Profiles, Sofia Spirit, Students Speak