The forgotten feminine
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The topic of my research is the lived experiences of eight psychotherapists and counsellors who consciously work with unusual phenomena as it arises in the therapeutic encounter. Unusual phenomena in this thesis refers to felt experiences which are considered to be beyond the everyday in the Cartesian paradigm and are often referred to as spiritual and/or mystical phenomena. Exploring these phenomena brings to light the potentialities in the vastness of consciousness which is considered to be an integral aspect of human existence in the thesis. I chose Heidegger’s hermeneutic phenomenological methodology for the research because it gives credence to the many and varied possibilities and potentialities both in particular lived experiences and in human existence as a whole. Van Manen’s lived existential provides the framework in which the participants’ experiences are explored. What emerged from the research is that unusual phenomena are not unusual for the participants. Although such phenomena are less visible and therefore less familiar in the everyday world, they are recognizable through their consistent presentation. This includes the participants having a powerful sense of ‘knowing’ which is all-encompassing and is beyond familiar landmarks such as the linear models of time and space. The participants bring their ‘knowing’ into the everyday world through embodiment and through their acknowledgment of the interconnectedness of existence. The expression of interconnectedness is experienced by the participants as lovingness, from which the ability for immediate healing in their therapeutic work becomes apparent. The participants’ accounts show a capacity for accessing the subtleties of human existence which emerge in the phenomenological process as the forgotten feminine of consciousness. The feminine of consciousness is a term used to describe a fundamental state of ‘being’ in contrast to the everyday masculine principle of ‘doing’. The research has implications for psychotherapy and counselling as it illuminates the need for a holistic approach which acknowledges the multidimensionality of human existence.