As an academic field, EWP constitutes a larger context for many disciplines that explore the interface of psychology and spirituality, including:

  • Transpersonal and integral psychology
  • Asian psychologies
  • Modern consciousness studies
  • Participatory spirituality
  • Depth psychology (Jungian, archetypal, and psychoanalytic)
  • Contemplative psychology
  • Religious comparative studies
  • Shamanic studies
  • Ecopsychology

Approaching the encounter among Eastern, Western, and indigenous worldviews in the spirit of pluralism, dialogue, and open inquiry, we actively explore the implications of this convergence for our diverse and multicultural world.

Career Outcomes

Our unique integration of knowledge sources, research methods, and skill sets prepare our graduates for current career opportunities and for bringing forth ideas for new kinds of work. Possibilities for new careers combine the program's offerings with what students envision as most deeply fulfilling. Such creative applications of psychology outside academia and state licensure include spiritual mentoring and leadership, integral coaching, inter-religious activism, earth-based research and practice, organizational consulting, and many other opportunities awaiting cultivation.

The program offers tools to those wishing to create new opportunities and pathways. Our graduates have founded schools and programs, embarked on new areas of research, integrated disciplines into the creation of new fields, and have designed and launched trainings and workshops to offer unique combinations of transformative approaches.

The department provides students with a list of associated organizations in which professional internships are available (ask for the "East-West Psychology Department Internship Opportunities" list). Internships are a means for students to gain practical experience in their chosen field in a supervised professional work environment and can be carried out as fieldwork in both the M.A. and PhD degrees.

All career paths taken by our graduates emphasize conscious service to self, spirit, culture, community, world, and era. EWP encourages students to creatively answer the vital question, "To what transformative work am I now being called?"

Learn more about some of our students' and graduates' career successes, teaching appointments, and publications.

Professional Internships

The department provides students with a list of associated organizations in which professional internships are available (ask for the "East-West Psychology Department Internship Opportunities" list). Internships are a means for students to gain practical experience in their chosen field in a supervised professional work environment and can be carried out as fieldwork in both the M.A. and PhD degrees.

Educational Vision

The department of East-West Psychology (EWP) is guided by and dedicated to the following educational ideals:

  • To create a learning community focused on the exploration of Western, Eastern, and indigenous psychologies and spiritualities in the spirit of integral inquiry and open-ended dialogue.
  • To offer an integral education that honors not only intellectual excellence, but also the voice and wisdom of the somatic, vital, emotional, imaginal, and spiritual dimensions of the person.
  • To bring spirituality into academia and explore the transformative elements of inquiry, learning, and writing.
  • To foster the psychospiritual development of students, as well as their unique individual gifts and potentials.

Integral Transformative Education

Two East-West Psychology students engaging

The integration of knowledge concerns itself with building bridges between different fields of knowledge (for example, psychoanalysis and Buddhism). Additionally, at the doctoral level, it encourages the integration of various research methodologies (e.g., theoretical, phenomenological, narrative, and/or heuristic), standpoints (e.g., first-, second-, and third-person approaches to knowledge), and epistemologies (e.g., Eastern contemplative and Western scientific).

With the integration of multiple ways of knowing, students develop inquiry skills that engage a wide range of human faculties and experiences (e.g., somatic, emotional, vital, imaginal, intellectual, intuitive, contemplative).The acquisition of these skills is not only a catalyst for meaningful personal transformation, but also the foundation for both the elaboration of more holistic knowledge and the design of integral transformative approaches relevant to the needs of individuals and collectives in the contemporary world.

Engaged Psychology

Engaged psychology refers to psychological theory, research, and practice that moves beyond laboratories and classrooms, consulting rooms and licensing requirements, to enrich, reflect on, and deepen the intersecting structures of consciousness, culture, and planet.

Examples of engaged psychology include:

  • Listening through an inner conflict as a barometer to fluctuations in collective consciousness.
  • Investigating the psychospiritual impact of a work or career situation.
  • Translating a spiritual experience into tangible career and relationship transformations.
  • Researching an issue from multiple angles of experience (scholarship, dream, intuition, art, reading).
  • Doing analytical homework on a life situation that resembles an episode found in mythology.
  • Applying a set of spiritual practices as a response to a cultural or ecological trauma.
  • Interpreting recurring images or motifs in a neighborhood as though analyzing a dream.

East West Philosophy Class

Engaged psychologies that address issues of psychospiritual practice, embodied self-actualization, social justice, and ecological awareness contrast sharply with psychologies of disengagement and departure that adjust the individual to appallingly unhealthy and unjust social, financial, and political "realities" while ignoring declining social systems and deteriorating ecosystems. Practitioners of engaged psychology tend what has been relegated to the margins and edges of collective consciousness to recover personal, social, somatic, ecological, and spiritual voices and meanings in search of fuller articulation.

Collaborative Learning

Embodied Spiritual Inquiry classCollaborative learning is central to the pedagogical experience in all the EWP programs. Depending on particular course objectives, this includes the appropriate use of dialogical inquiry, class presentations and small-group discussions, web-based learning and networking tools, group assignments and cooperative inquiry, as well as group work in daylong retreats.Collaborative learning trains students in the shared construction of human knowledge, fosters emotional and interpersonal competence, and teaches how to enter into fruitful exchange with people holding different views. These skills translate into multiple professional settings.

History of the East West Psychology Department

Kim McKell, Haridas Chaudhuri, Hilary AndersonThe roots of East-West psychology go back to 1968, when CIIS was founded. Originally called the California Institute of Asian Studies, students earned degrees in East-West comparative studies focusing on philosophy, psychology, religion and other fields. Dr. Haridas Chaudhuri, founder of the institute, had emphasized the need for connecting psychology and spirituality based on his own experiences,  observations, and inspiration by Sri Aurobindo who had said that "yoga is nothing but practical psychology". He understood that spiritual and psychological development were inextricably interconnected and that Western psychology could benefit from studying sacred psychologies embedded in Eastern spiritual traditions.

In 1975 East-West psychology became a separate department co-directed by Mary Oliver Tasch and Hilary Anderson. In the mid-to-late 1970s various courses were taught in the areas such as Asian psychology, yoga psychology, Buddhist psychology, integral psychology,  parapsychology and kundalini research, humanistic and transpersonal psychologies, meditation and mysticism, archetypal psychology and altered states of consciousness by various faculty including Haridas Chaudhuri, Kimberly Mckell, Mary Tasch, Hilary Anderson, Rammurti Mishra, Ralph Metzner and others. From the start Dr. Chaudhuri intended East-West Psychology as an experiment. What transformative alchemies of learning and practice (he wondered) might emerge in studies bridging East and West? Dr. Chaudhuri taught that transformation is essentially experimental, an ongoing work of becoming. To remain viable, to grow to its full stature, every living being must adapt to the demands of its time while remaining true to its origins, values, and identity.  

Pictured:  L to R: Kim McKell, Haridas Chaudhuri, Hilary Anderson

Questions about admissions or EWP?

Admissions Counselor:
Richard Wormstall
(415) 575-6156
rwormstall@ciis.edu

EWP Program Manager & Adjunct Faculty Member:
Heidi Fraser Hageman
(415) 575-6189
ewp@ciis.edu

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