Spiritual Emergency

The following is an excerpt from a book entitled, Spiritual Emergency: When Personal Transformation Becomes a Crisis. The book, published in 1989, was edited by Stanislav Grof, MD and Christina Grof who are responsible for introducing the concept of spiritual emergency into the field of mental health care and for developing treatment options for a range spiritual crises of varying intensity and duration.

The central theme explored in this book is the idea that some of the dramatic experiences and unusual states of mind that traditional psychiatry diagnoses and treats as mental diseases are actually crises of personal transformation, or 'spiritual emergencies'....When these states of mind are properly understood and treated supportivley, rather than suppressed by standard psychiatric routines, they can be healing and have very beneficial effects on the people who experience them. This positive potential is expressed in the term spiritual emergency..., suggesting both a crisis and an opportunity of rising to a new level of awareness, or 'spiritual emergence'.
If you or a loved one is experiencing a spiritual emergency or would like to explore spiritual issues along your life's path, please call Judith Gusky, LPC at 412-687-1234 or CONTACT US.

Spiritual Perspectives on Mental Health

Since the early 1980s there has been a new perspective developing among many mental health professionals that spiritual crises can be transformative and hold tremendous potential for physical and emotional healing. Psychologists, psychiatrists, and counselors have slowly begun to integrate the idea of spiritual emergence and emergency into the diagnosis and treatment of clients. Serious questions are being asked:

  • What is spiritual emergency?
  • What is the relationship between spirituality, “madness,” and healing?
  • What forms does spiritual emergency take (acute psychosis, near-death experiences (NDE), psychic awakening, spirit attachment...)?
  • What are the pitfalls — and promises — of spiritual practice?
  • How can people in spiritual emergency be assisted by family, friends, and professionals?


Schedule an Appointment if you or a loved one are experiencing or have experienced a spiritual emergency or are grappling with issues of spiritual emergence.

Continuing the Work

Published on Nov 21, 2014
Emma Bragdon explains to us why the use of spirituality in mental healthcare is so much more accepted in Brazil than in our American culture.
Psychologist Emma Bragdon, PhD, has expanded on the Grof's work on spiritual emergency and has reconceptualized some of it in the context of Spiritism. Bragdon acknowledges the importance of an integrated approach to mental health care and treatment (body, mind and spirit). She does perceive, however, that aligning with the "spirit" must occur before the body and mind can be fully well. Spirit is primary.

Bragdon has written extensively on the integration of spiritual practices into mental health care. Of particular interest for mental health counseling is her book, A Sourcebook for Helping People with Spiritual Problems. She presents the protocol of care for clients in spiritual emergency as developed by the Grofs as a set of guidelines, methodologies, and resources. Emma Bragdon also has been key in bringing to the United States integrative mental health practices from Spiritist Centers and Spiritist Psychiatric Hospitals in Brazil. See her book, Spiritism and Mental Health.