Integrally informed meta-psychotherapy

By Dr. Keith Witt
July 31, 2023

Integral psychology is a meta-psychology.

Integrally informed psychotherapy (IIP) is a meta-psychotherapy.

IIP enhances all psychotherapies—makes them more beautiful, good, and true.

Waking Up was my vision of an Integrally informed meta-psychotherapy eighteen years ago.

Waking Up: Integrally Informed Individual and Conjoint Psychotherapy (2008)

#1: Everything is relationships: 

Absolute truth is timeless and formless, everything else is relationships with our different selves, others, nature, and spirit.

  • Relationships exist as matter and energies interacting. The interactions are multileveled through all four quadrants. 
  • Complex systems—Human consciousness and relationships are complex systems biased to evolve to greater complexity. Evolution of self-aware consciousness is towards more depth and compassion. 

 #2: Meta-definitions  

  • Psychotherapy is cultivating compassion and depth of consciousness to support healthy perspectives and actions.
  • Psychotherapy is co-creating a culture where the client and the client’s universe is cherished, where every moment is experienced as a gift and an opportunity, and where healthy perspectives and actions are considered beautiful, good, and true.

 #3: Meta-purpose of psychotherapy

The meta-purpose of therapy is to remediate symptoms, enhance health, and support development.

 #4: Meta-activities of psychotherapists

Therapists relate, teach, inspire, confront, interpret, and direct.

#5: Meta-types

Masculine and feminine are meta-types that inform other types. 

The universe’s bias to complexity led to evolution of life on earth, which led to male/female bifurcation (turbocharging evolution), which led to self-aware consciousness.

  • Masculine/feminine are clusters of preferences (attractions and repulsions) arising from multiple sex drives.  All preferences interact in energetic polarities with our inner and outer worlds.
  • Masculine and feminine energies connecting can spark erotic polarities. 
  • Every person has masculine and feminine aspects and a deeper sexual essence.
  • Sexual essenceis the place we most go in the sexual occasion. Most of us prefer to be either the more masculine leader or feminine follower in the sexual dance. This preference generally reflects our sexual essence.
  • Masculine/feminine informs all types—the enneagram, HEXACO, 5-factors, Myers Briggs, and other typologies are deepened and expanded through the masculine/feminine meta-types.

 #6: Meta-states 

  • States of healthy response to the present moment.
  • Defensive states.

States of healthy response arise as we feel unthreatened, present, and engaged in the journey of life.

Defensive states arise instantly when our adaptive unconscious (our Shadow-self) feels threat. 

Defensive states are characterized by:

  • Amplified or numbed emotions.
  • Distorted perspectives.
  • Destructive impulses.
  • Diminished capacities for empathy and self-reflection.

 #7: Regulating defensive states into states of healthy response is a core psychotherapy process.

  • Psychotherapy helps clients enhance healthy states and regulate defensive states to states of healthy response. 
  • When our Shadow-self (our adaptive unconscious) feels threatened, it generates defensive states within 40 milliseconds which we can self-observe 500 to 1000 milliseconds later. Wedon’t decideto enter defensive states, at best we discoverourselves in them.
  • How we regulate defensive states determines how we live, love, and grow.

 #8: Relational defensive patterns: 

  • When we enter a defensive state while engaged with others, they are likely to enter complementary defensive states. 
  • Repetitive complementary defensive states become relational defensive patterns, which become habits embedded in our Shadow-selves, and deep features of our relationships. 

 #9: Normal crazy and extra crazy

  • Normal crazyis resisting awareness of defensive states, but able to receive influence to shift to healthy states.
  • Extra crazyis inability to self-observe defensive states while compulsively making the same painful mistakes. This is easier to see with psychoses (schizophrenia and bipolar mania) and much harder with personality disorders—15% to 19% percent of the general population, 30% to 70% of clinical populations.

 #10: Lines and levels

Integrally informed therapists are Spiral Wizards

  • Spiral dynamics and Integral are interrelated meta-understandings of individual/cultural development and functionality on multiple lines.
  • Specific lines and levels perceptions yield more granular views of our clients in the present moment.
  • Social and interpersonal neurobiological research give us modern biopsychosocial blueprints of how to parent, partner, love, teach, create, and heal through the lifespan.

Integrally informed psychotherapy tracks an emergent 21stcentury model of a meta-psychotherapy

  • The 20thcentury model was for therapists to identify as Gestalt Therapists, Internal Family Systems therapists, Family Therapists, Cognitive Behavioral Therapists, Feminist therapists, etc. 
  • Each designation reflects core values embedded in the systems. 
  • Integrally informed psychotherapists hold complex interconnected constellations of theoretical structures, values, and approaches. Practically, Integrally informed psychotherapy keeps reaching for growth edges where people get to be more right and willing to heal. This enhances vertical and horizontal health.
  • A good example of such interconnected constellations is Corey deVos’s concepts of progressive modes of discourse through the vMEMEs—red decree, amber doctrine, umber debate, orange dialogue, green discourse, and teal dialectic. Relating, teaching, inspiring, confronting, interpreting, and directing are enacted differently with each mode of discourse and each therapist’s Natural Healing Style. 

Integrally informed meta-psychotherapy

Within the scaffolding of an Integrally informed meta-psychotherapy, all theories/approaches self-organize into multidimensional living structures, always undulating, growing, and integrating through four quadrants.

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