Integral Psychology: Understanding How Humans React and Behave

Psychology and psychotherapy

People tend to judge people, behavior, and situations quickly without taking other factors and variables into consideration, e.g., their lifestyle, beliefs, way of thinking, values, etc. A common example would be those kids and teenagers who have committed a crime. Initially, they would endure hatred and judgment from society. In other countries, kids who have violated the law are even subject to prison. While acts like this should not be condoned, obviously, there is also a lack of understanding as to why these children are committing such crimes. People tend to think broader. Hence, they fail to consider that their behavior could actually be the consequence of external pressure, their environment, or their circumstance.

External pressure and other variables need to be eradicated. But in order to do so, one must first be able to do a study, see and engage with the children, and educate them and their parents about it. One must learn to decipher how humans behave and react, something integral psychology is all about.

Integral psychology is an extensive approach in understanding human behavior and experience. It includes systematic sessions with the participants to understand who the latter are and how they live as human beings. Integral psychology’s goal is to help people provide better approaches in facing their challenges as individuals.

Getting to Know How a Human Behave

According to a scientific study, human behavior is about these three components: actions, emotions, and cognitions interplayed.

  1. An action is observed using the bare eyes or physiological sensors. It is a transition between the body’s states or an initiation for the next state just like how “action” is shouted in a movie taping for the next scene to start filming. Often, an action is triggered by a muscular activation, a sweat gland activity, or when one eats or sleeps. 
  1. An emotion is triggered by a brief conscious experience that is defined by an intense mental activity of a person. It is a feeling irrelevant to a person’s knowledge or reasoning. It ranges from positive, pleasurable feelings to negative, unpleasant ones.

Scientifically, a person’s emotions is also considered working if it experiences increased respiration rate or heart rate after an increased arousal which is usually invisible to the eye. However, emotions cannot be directly observed. They can be indirectly inferred based on one’s facial electromyography activity or facial expressions, one’s heart arousal using ECG, and its respiration sensor and galvanic skin responses. Many lie detector tests gauge and look into a person’s sudden spike of emotions to see if a person is lying or not.

  1. Cognitions represent the mental images and thoughts a person carries and can either be verbal or nonverbal. Cognition, with the help of a person’s skills and knowledge, helps analyze how to deal a situation or use things in a manner that does not hurt or harm.

Actions, emotions, and cognitions are dependent with each other. These three components when working together allows a person to perceive the world soundly, appropriately, and considerately.

How a Human Behavior Should Be Deciphered

Experts like New York Psychologist, Nadine Macaluso believe that all the misunderstandings and miscommunications in the world exist because human behavior is not deciphered the right way. More often than not, people only examine a single variable in trying to understand why a person behaves the way he does instead of considering various components.

For instance, when a woman fears cats, chances are people would instantly conclude that the woman has been carrying with her a traumatic experience with cats when in truth, there are other aspects in life that could have contributed to her phobia. In the same manner, a woman is usually suffering from low self-esteem and this makes her vulnerable to other women’s presence. But most likely, people will judge her as an overacting, insecure being without considering that she could be having a difficult, unappreciated life growing up.

Behavior and Learning

Learning includes processing of new knowledge and skills, attitudes, social rules, preferences, evaluations, and normative considerations. On the other hand, behavior is always acquired. It is not predefined during the person’s conception. But the good news is, with the help of continuous learning, behavior can improve through time. In the past, there had been a debate as to whether behavior is driven solely by nature (genetic predispositions), or nurture (environmental factors). But eventually, it was put to an end as evidences have been found proving the impact both of nurture and nature in the behavior of a person.

Behavior and Decision-Making

Unlike behavior that is determined and defined through learning, decisions are actually driven by incentives, risks, and benefits.

The Goal of Integral Psychology

With the help of integral psychology’s approach, it is hoped that every valid aspect of human consciousness is honored and embraced. It aims to draw a map to decipher the whole being of a person. It also aims to build a bridge that a person can use towards conventional world.

Integral psychology is broad but it does not require formal mental health training to be practiced. One only has to follow the program presented by its founder, Ken Wilber.

Integral psychology program basically covers four modules:

  1. Module 1: Foundation of Integral Psychotherapy
  2. Module 2: Developmental Levels and their interventions and assessments
  3. Module 3: Discussing personal states, g. spiritual state and traumatic state
  4. Module 4: Diversity, Sexuality, and Types

How Integral Psychotherapy Can Treat

Integral psychotherapy is a branch of the integral psychology and is targeted for people who are suffering from trauma, lack of self-esteem, and relationship issues. It can be performed not only by mental health practitioners and therapists but by other health practitioners and active community members. Its programs are focused on providing opportunities for growth and evolution which encourage and improve each individual’s connectivity and awareness.

Nowadays, there are already a lot of support groups and community organizations practicing integral psychotherapy which centers in studying a person’s mindfulness, behavior, and development. People who are undergoing integral psychotherapy usually go through meditation activities like yoga and other retreat programs that are designed to increase and cultivate one’s consciousness and mindfulness, respectively.