Dr. Michael Mayer’s Contributions
To Integral/Transpersonal Psychology and Psychotherapy
I. Background (For a more complete Bio please scroll down to the bottom of this page):
- Dr. Mayer was a co-founding faculty member of the first accredited university transpersonal psychology program in the U.S. at John F Kennedy University where he trained therapists for 12 years (from 1978 to 1991). There he developed his transpersonal psychotherapy approach and subsequently wrote two books on this approach (1.) Bodymind Healing Psychotherapy: Ancient Pathways to Modern Health, 2007 (2.) Energy Psychology: Self-Healing Practices for Bodymind Health, 2009.
II. Selected Books: (For a more complete description of Dr. Mayer’s six books on integral/transpersonal psychology please click this link).
• Bodymind Healing Psychotherapy: Ancient Pathways to Modern Health (Mayer, 2004b). Drawing from 30 years of training in Tai Chi and Qigong with some of the most respected masters of these traditions, this book shows how to integrate the essence of these practices into psychotherapy and into our healthcare without ever doing a Tai Chi/Qigong movement, and without mentioning a word about Qigong. Using case illustrations from his work in an integrated medical clinic the book shows how ancient and modern, East and West, psychotherapy and mind-body medicine cam be amalgamated to make a stronger integrative medicine. Theory, research, and case illustrations are blended to show how bodymind healing methods can help alleviate hypertension, chronic pain, insomnia, anxiety, depression, trauma., and other common issues plaguing the modern world. This book, endorsed by major leaders in mind-body healthcare makes significant contributions to the field of integral/transpersonal psychotherapy, behavioral healthcare, Qigong, and energy psychology.
A.) List of Endorsements:
- Energy Psychology: Self-Healing Methods for Bodymind Health(North Atlantic/Random House, 2009) presents a comprehensive approach to healing that combines leading-edge Western bodymind psychological methods with a broad system of ancient, sacred traditions. Incorporating Dr. Mayer’s integral approach called Bodymind Healing Psychotherapy, Energy Psychology draws on Chinese medicine approaches, including Qigong and acupressure self-touch; kabalistic processes; methods drawn from ancient traditions of meditation and postural initiation; and psycho-mythological storytelling techniques.
- Secrets to Living Younger Longer: The Self-healing Path of Qigong, Standing Meditation and Tai Chi (Bodymind Healing Publications, 2004). This book shows how Tai Chi and Qigong have roots in Cross-Cultural Shamanism and a lost, integrative Self-healing lineage; each posture has four dimensions of purpose: Self-healing, spiritual unfoldment, self-defense, and changing one’s life stance psychologically.
- Trials of the Heart: Healing the Wounds of Intimacy (Celestial Arts/Ten Speed Press, 1994). Psycho-mythological solutions to the trials of intimacy.
- The Mystery of Personal Identity (ACS Publications, 1983, 2012), winner of a prize from the Astrological Association of Great Britain for creating a new theoretical framework (phenomenological) for astrology that makes it palatable to skeptics; the first book to integrate astrology and depth psychotherapy.
- The Path of a Reluctant Metaphysician: Stories and Practices for Troubled Times (Bodymind Healing Publications (2012). This Ben Franklin award-winning book traces the journey of Dr. Mayer through the Integral/Transpersonal Psychology movement over three decades. However, it is not just an autobiographical book, rather it shows how anyone can carve out a path to their destiny.
III. Selected Articles: (For a more complete publication list please click here.
- Mayer, M. (2015). blog article, Association for Comprehensive Energy Psychology: Transforming Energy Psychology into a Comprehensive Transpersonal Psychotherapy.
- Mayer, M. (2008). Mind-Body treatment for anxiety and panic disorders. California State Journal of Oriental Medicine, Summer.
- Three peer-reviewed articles on Qigong and Hypertension:
- Mayer, M. (2010) Hypertension: An Integral Bodymind Healing Approach, Natural Standard, February, (Peer Reviewed).
- Mayer, M. (1999). Qigong and hypertension: A critique of research. Journal of Alter-native and Complementary Medicine, 5(4), 371-382. (Peer-reviewed).
- Mayer, M. (2003). Qigong clinical studies. In W. B. Jonas (Ed.), Healing, intention, and energy medicine (pp. 121-137). England: Churchill Livingston. (Peer-reviewed).
- Mayer, M. (1996). Qigong and behavioral medicine: An integrated approach to chronic pain. Qi: The Journal of Eastern Health and Fitness, 6(4), 20-31.
- Mayer, M. (2004c). What do you stand for? The Journal of Qigong in America, Vol. 1, Summer.
- Mayer, M. (1982, 1996, 2007, 2009). “The Mythic Journey Process,”(originally appeared in The Focusing Folio, and then in many of Dr. Mayer’s books.
IV. Selected Workshops: (For a more complete listing of Dr. Mayer’s workshops on psychotherapy and mind-body healing click here:
- June 2, 2016, 18th Annual International Association for Comprehensive Energy Psychology Conference, Deepening Healing with Transpersonal Energy Psychology, Hyatt Regency Hotel.
- May 31, 2015, The 17th International ACEP Conference, Transforming Energy Psychology into a Comprehensive Transpersonal Psychotherapy. Hyatt Regency Hotel Reston VA.
- February, 18, 2012, Association for Transpersonal Psychology Conference, Bodymind Healing in Psychotherapy: Towards an Integral Transpersonal Psychology , 10-11:30 AM, Menlo Park, CA.
- October, 4, 2012, The Commonwealth Club of San Francisco, Integral Health: Bodymind Healing Approaches to Troubled Times. Dr. Mayer presents how this transpersonal, psycho-energetic approach applies to our healthcare system at The Commonwealth Club, the oldest and perhaps leading public affairs venue in the U.S. This presentation draws from Dr. Mayer’s decade working in, and co-founding an integrative medical clinic, The Health Medicine Center.
- February 13, 2010, Association of Transpersonal Psychology Conference, February 18, 2010, Bodymind Healing Psychotherapy: Towards an Integral, Transpersonal Psychotherapy, 2:45- 4:45 PM, Menlo College, Atherton CA, Register www.atpweb.org,email@example.com.
* Some other venues where Dr Mayer has presented his approach to Transpersonal Psychology where they have received MCEP credits: Cascadia Training (Seattle,WA., 2013), Association for Transpersonal Psychology (Menlo Park, CA2012, 2010), Wright Institute (Berkeley, CA.,2010,) the Psychotherapy Institute of Berkeley (2008), Esalen Institute (Big Sur, CA., 2007), and online through Alliant International University.
V. University Teaching Experience (Selected Courses):
2016, Sofia University, Masters in Transpersonal Psychology Program, Transpersonal Psychology: Transformative and Healing Dimensions, 2016.
2011, Institute of Transpersonal Psychology, Doctoral Committee Member, A Phenomenological Inquiry into the Process and Effects of Finding Meaning with Astrological Symbolism, by Koslova, Elena, Final Committee Approval.
2009, Alliant International University, Bodymind Healing and Qigong in Psychotherapy, CEUs available for psychologists and other health professionals San Francisco, CA. Recorded for 7 Online Continuing Ed Credits, Click here for Online course.
1998-2000, San Francisco State University, Health Education Department-Holistic Health, Eastern Perspectives on Healing, Six classes 1998-2000.
1996,1997, California Institute of Integral Studies, Tai Chi Qigong and Psychotherapy, East West Psychology Doctoral Psychology Program, 1996; Energy Medicine: East and West, Graduate Doctoral Psychology Program, 1997.
1978- 1991, JFK University: Graduate Psychology Courses including: Symbolic Process in Psychotherapy; Psychopathology; Astrology in Psychotherapy, Foundations of Depth Psychotherapy; Effective Therapeutic Communication; Tai Chi, Qigong and Psychotherapy; Clinical Supervision; Clinical Case Seminar.
VI. Clinical Supervisor for Transpersonal Psychology Interns:
2015-current, East Bay Mindfulness Center– Clinical Supervisor, Orinda, CA.
1980-1987, Psychotherapy and Healing Center, Director and Clinical Supervisor.
VII. Dr. Mayer’s Contributions to the field of Integral/Transpersonal Psychology centers upon the integration of: A. Tai Chi/Qigong, B. Traditions of postural initiation, and C. Symbolic processes with transpersonal psychology and psychotherapy. (For a more complete view of Dr Mayer’s contributions to psychotherapy please click here):
A. Tai Chi /Qigong:
- Tai Chi Qigong and Psychotherapy: From his training in Tai Chi and Qigong for 30+ years with some of the most respected Tai Chi and Qigong Masters such as Master Fong Ha (Ha,1996), Dr. Mayer (1996, 1997a, 2004b, 2007) pioneered the integration of Qigong and psychotherapy, and was the first person to train doctoral psychology students in this integration. The first phase of Dr. Mayer’s work was integrating Qigong movements into psychotherapy as a behavioral healthcare tool for such issues as hypertension, chronic pain, insomnia, anxiety, depression, and trauma. The next phase of his work is the integral phase (Walsh, 2006; Wilber 2000) where Qigong is integrated into psychotherapy without ever using a Qigong movement and without ever mentioning a word about Qigong. Since the greatest Qigong, according to Dr. Mayer’s viewpoint involves cultivating the energy of life by practicing living a life cleared of psychological encumbrances which block the rivers of our chi, on this pathway one can extract out the essence of what creates transformation from Qigong as a Self-cultivation practice (Mayer, 2007, 2009a). For example, with no reference to Qigong, in a psychotherapy session a practitioner can introduce breathing methods (such as Qigong’s microcosmic orbit breathing), teach acu-point self touch, and increase somatic awareness of the movements/postures that a person expresses at the moment of “felt shift: (Gendlin, 1978) which then serve as post-hypnotic anchors (these movements and postures are oftentimes the same as practiced by Tai Chi/Qigong practitioners).
• His book, Secrets to Living Younger Longer: The Self-healing Path of Qigong, Standing Meditation and Tai Chi, describes how Tai Chi, Qigong can function as tools that can be integrated with Western behavioral healthcare. Dr. Wayne Jonas, Former Director National Institute of Health, Office of Alternative Medicine says about this book, A wonderful guide for learning the ancient healing practice of Qigong. Full of clear and practical exercises.
B. Integrating Traditions of Postural Initiation with Psychotherapy:
What creates change in psychotherapy? All psychological theories have their hypotheses regarding what creates psychotherapeutic change, and so does Bodymind Healing Psychotherapy (BMHP). In general, psychodynamic therapists emphasize the insight gained from going back to one’s families of origin, cognitive-behavioral psychotherapists emphasize changes in beliefs and behavior, humanistic/existential psychotherapists emphasize choice, Jungians emphasize the role of symbolic process, and Dr. Eugene Gendlin emphasizes the energy shift that is experienced in the body and new meaning that emerges at key moments of change in psychotherapy. BMHP draws from all of these traditions and uses a mandala of psychotherapies. In addition to this integrative perspective, BMHP draws from certain traditions stemming from the ground of ancient sacred wisdom traditions. From these traditions there are three interrelated concepts woven together throughout his books Bodymind Healing Psychotherapy, and Energy Psychology book: (1) Transforming your life stance, (2) Shape-shifting, and (3) Repairing and cultivating your primordial Self. Dr. Mayer’s philosophy is that, “psychological issues and bodily disease are divina afflictios (divine afflictions) giving us opportunities for psycho-spiritual growth, soul-making, and finding the source of healing.”
Just as Dr. Gendlin’s research attempted to extract the essence of what made therapy work to empower the process of change for people, Dr. Mayer discovered these three interrelated concepts from his thirty years of practice of psychotherapy, Qigong, and ancient sacred wisdom traditions that seemed to capture the essence of what created energetic change for people:
Transforming Your Life Stance: Change needs to be embodied change, thus the use of the concept “transforming your life stance.” This is one of the quintessential elements of Bodymind Healing Psychotherapy (BMHP). Influenced by the traditions of Standing Meditation Qigong and postural initiation (Goodman, 1990; Gore, 1995; Mayer, 2004b, 2004c) as well as the recent advances showing the importance of the body in the role of psychological healing (van der Kolk, 1994, 2002), BMHP places the literal/physical and symbolic elements of transforming one’s life stance at the hub of the wheel of its theory of change. Another way to speak of changing our life stance is to use the practices and metaphors of shape-shifting.
Shape-shifting: Dr. Mayer (2004b, 2007, 2009a) introduced to the literature of the field the theory that one of the earliest roots of psychotherapy involved traditions of shape-shifting that used transfiguring metaphors and practices to enhance the process of psychological transformation, loosen up fixated life patterns, and help to change a person’s life stance. Virtually all age-old cultures have myths of shape-shifting of human beings; these symbolic stories can be viewed as psycho-initiatory tales that have an ability to heal and transform our lives (for example when the mighty Zeus shape-shifted into being a swan to be able to attract Leda). This perspective was outlined in two of Dr Mayer’s books, Secrets to Living Younger Longer…. (Mayer, 2004b) and in Bodymind Healing Psychotherapy (2007) where readers were led on a journey to the age-old traditions of our trans-temporal compatriots. There, Dr Mayer drew on the teachings of cross-cultural mythologies and shamanism, the first holistic healing center of the Western World (the temple of Asclepius), the Kabbalah, as well as the traditions of postural initiation in Native America, Greece, India, and China (Goodman, 1990; Tomio, 1994; Mayer 2004b). In Bodymind Healing Psychotherapy (BMHP), Dr. Mayer specifically applied the age-old metaphors of shape-shifting to help those in modern psychotherapy to increase vitality, add depth, promote healing, and discover the multifaceted form of our “true selves.”
Repairing and Cultivating Your Vital, Primordial Self: ( To see a description of the importance of this concept to Bodymind Healing Psychotherapy, please click on this link.
C. Symbolic Processes: Dr. Mayer has contributed to the general traditions of symbolic process in psychotherapy with his Full Spectrum Approach and his conceptualization of the transcending/transmuting dialectic. Some of the specific processes he has developed are his Mythic Journey Process, River of Life method, as well he has added an astro-poetic, phenomenological approach to the use of astrological symbols in psychotherapy:
Full Spectrum Approach to Symbolic Processes: Bodymind Healing Psychotherapy brings a full spectrum approach to symbolic process inner work which integrates the somatic and imaginal dimensions thus adding to Imaginal Psychotherapy traditions. Some components of this symbolic process approach are a somatically oriented mythic journey process, and an integral approach combining Qigong, symbolic process methods, and somatic psychotherapy (Mayer 2007, 2009a).
The transcendent/transmuting dialectic: There has long been a split between psychotherapy and spiritual traditions. Modern psychologists have long been trained that by using spiritually transcendent methods, the transmutation of psychological complexes will not occur but will be bypassed and then reappear the next time an associated trigger touches off the complex. It is the viewpoint of BMHP that dichotomizing between transcendent and transmuting needs of the patient in psychotherapy is a function of the Western dualistic mind. Such dichotomization does not do justice to the holistic spirit of healing in the deepest sense of the “perennial philosophy” (Huxley, 1970); nor, as Dr. Mayer argues, does it meet the healing needs of an integrative psychology. In order to resolve this false dichotomy Dr Mayer introduces in Bodymind Healing Psychotherapy (Mayer 2007, 2009a) a theoretical framework and practices for integrating transcendent and transmuting dimensions of psychological and spiritual healing. . Dr Mayer’s work in this regard is part of an emerging movement of integrating meditative and spiritual methods into psychotherapy (Walsh & Shapiro, 2006; Wilbur, 1980).
Mythic Journey Process: The Mythic Journey Process, an integral component of Bodymind Healing Psychotherapy, is an archetypal psychology, narrative approach to psychotherapy that combines Dr. Eugene Gendlin’s Focusing approach with symbolic process methods. Building upon the mythic processes of Sam Keen, (1989) and Carl Jung’s active imagination process, Dr. Mayer’s Mythic Journey Process (Mayer, 1982, 1993, 2007, 2009a) added a somatic dimension to psycho-mythological inner work. The MJP is a symbolic process tool that has a person transpose a life problem into a story set in ancient time in order to work through that issue. To ground the mythic dimension, the MJP uses Gendlin’s Focusing so that the storyteller continually refers back to the felt sense of the body. It has been used by therapists, by lay people as a self-growth tool, and it is a central component of Bodymind Healing Psychotherapy. Dr Mayer uses it as a method in his workshops for relationship issues (Mayer, 1993), and to help people in his private practice and workshops with psychological and somatic issues. The Mythic Journey Process was included in many of Dr. Mayer’s written works (Mayer, 1982, 1993, 2007, 2009a).It has been included in numerous workshops, which have received MCEP credits, including Cascadia Training (2013), Esalen Institute (2007), etc.
The River of Life The River of Life Process: Dr. Mayer derived the River of Life method from microcosmic orbit breathing, a Taoist breathing method first brought to the West by Richard Wilhelm (1931). The River of Life method (Mayer, 1982, 1996, 2007, 2009a) adds a visualization of water to microcosmic orbit breathing. As a person is breathing in he or she imagines energy or a river traveling up the governing vessel and on the exhalation one imagines a river traveling down the conception vessel to the belly (tan tien). This method induces a trance state that in Taoist terms opens the practitioner to experience “the sea of elixir” (Wilhelm, 1963). This transcendent state is used to help facilitate the practitioner release stress, mind-body energy blockages, and blocked life issues within the context of psychotherapy and behavioral healthcare. In addition, Dr. Mayer (1982) added a transmuting dimension to the River of Life by having a person “focus” (Gendlin, 1978) on a blockage that emerges in the river of their felt experience of flowing down the river. Then in the Bodymind Healing Psychotherapy method the person uses various methods (such as cognitive restructuring, psychodynamic methods, self soothing) to transmute the life issues and energy blockages involved.
Astrological Metaphor in Psychotherapy: Dr. Mayer studied with Dane Rudhyar who was on his doctoral committee. Dr. Mayer developed a phenomenological approach to astrological metaphor that is palatable even to skeptics. Geoffrey Dean, a president of the Skeptics society, has said that his approach of using astro-poetics is the only one that he views as being reasonable. His book The Mystery of Personal Identity won the Astrology Prize from the Astrological Association of Great Britain for giving the most valuable contribution to Astrology in 1979…the first book to integrate astrological metaphor with depth psychotherapy.
VIII. What are others saying about Dr. Michael Mayer’s contributions to integral/transpersonal psychology and psychotherapy:
- Book Reviews: Dr. Mayer’s approach to an integral, transpersonal energy psychology in two of his books have been positively reviewed by the following journals:
A. The Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, Vol. 44, No. 1, 2012, Review of Bodymind Healing Psychotherapy and Energy Psychology, Reviewer David Lukoff, Ph.D., co-president of The Association of Transpersonal Psychology:
“…BMHP provides embodied insight that talk therapy alone cannot… He situates the presentation within a paradigmatic shift that is transforming healthcare, but which he considers to still be in a pre-paradigmatic phase. I expect that when the history of this shift is written, Mayer will figure prominently.” …“I field tested parts of BMHP in my year-long psychotherapy class at the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology…His books serve as resources that I reference when teaching and supervising students on how to integrate mind-body practices into their clinical work.”
B. PsycCritiques, January 2008, Reviewer Gilewski, M. January, A review of Bodymind Healing Psychotherapy: Ancient Pathways to Modern Health. A Cartesian-Taoist Scientific Revolution: Old Replacing New Medicine
C. Keeping in Touch, Journal of the United States Association for Body Psychotherapy, Fall 2007. Review of Bodymind Healing Psychotherapy: Ancient Pathways to Modern Health.
D. PsycCritiques, Vol. 55, Release 7, Article 8, Feb, 17, 2010. Reviewer Church, D. (2010). A review of Energy psychology: Self healing methods for bodymind health. Energy Psychology: Applying Eastern medicine to quantum entanglement:
Supportive Quotes from leaders in the field about Bodymind Healing Psychotherapy, Click here.
IX. Further supportive material that helps to show that the instructor’s approach and program “has obtained a degree of credibility in the wider community:”
- Researchers have taken Dr. Mayer’s three peer reviewed articles on hypertension (Mayer, 1999, 2003, 2010) and are following his research suggestions. One example: Guo, X., Zhou, B., Nishimura, T., Teramukai, M., & Fukushima, M. (2008). Clinical effect of Qigong practice on essential hypertension: A meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials, Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, Vol. 14, No 1, pp. 27–37. For a more extensive list of articles that have mentioned Dr. Mayer’s articles please see, “Who is Publishing in my Domain,” BioMed Lib, Val Outterson-BioMedLib firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Dr. Bessel van der Kolk, the co-principal investigator for the field trials for the DSM IV category of Post Traumatic Stress, and the director of Boston University Medical School’s Trauma Dept. uses Dr. Mayer’s Bodymind healing Qigong DVD in his training of trauma therapists.
Michael Mayer, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist and Qigong/Tai Chi teacher who specializes in giving his patients self-healing methods for health problems. Dr. Mayer presents his approach to bodymind healing at professional conferences, national/international workshops, universities, and hospitals; and he is a keynote speaker. He was a co-founding faculty member of John F. Kennedy University’s Transpersonal Psychology Program and he is a co-founder of, and a practitioner at, The Health Medicine Center, a multi-disciplinary medical clinic practicing integrative health-care. Dr. Mayer pioneered the integration of Qigong and psychotherapy, and was the first person in the United States to train doctoral psychology students in these methods. The World Institute for Self-Healing gave him an award for outstanding research and contribution to the advancement of mind-body medicine. He is a fellow of the American Association for Integrative Medicine; and the American Tai Chi and Qigong Association has certified Michael as a Master Instructor of Tai Chi Chuan. Dr Mayer is the author of twenty publications on bodymind healing including six books and various articles. His peer reviewed article on Qigong and hypertension appeared in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine; it was updated in the book Healing, Intention and Energy Medicine, by Dr Wayne Jonas, past director of the National Institute of Health, Office of Alternative Medicine; and it was recently featured on the website Natural Standard: The Authority on Integrative Medicine.Dr. Mayer has served as a peer reviewer for The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, Complementary Therapies in Medicine, and Annals of Internal Medicine.His Bodymind Healing Qigong DVD is currently being used in training of trauma therapists by Dr. Bessel van der Kolk, Medical Director, The Trauma Center, Boston University School of Medicine. Dr. Mayer has certification programs which include Bodymind Healing Qigong for Qigong practitioners/teachers, and a Bodymind Health Practitioner’s Certification Program for health professionals. His book, Bodymind Healing Psychotherapy (2007), has been released as a trade paperback called Energy Psychology by North Atlantic/Random House, (2009). They have both received endorsements from leaders in mind-body medicine, and from the journal PsycCritiques. His latest Ben Franklin award-winning book is The Path of a Reluctant Metaphysician, Stories and Practices for Troubled Times (Bodymind Healing Publications, 2012). Michael’s guiding image of the integral psychotherapy approach he has developed, “two streams becoming one,” guides him as he joins East/West, mind/body and ancient/modern in his work.