Thursday, November 29, 2012

Review of Perspectives of Clinical Parapsychology: An Introductory Reader

In 2007, twenty professionals from eight different countries gathered in Naarden, Netherlands to exchange their experiences and scientific knowledge in the field of clinical parapsychology. Perspectives of Clinical Parapsychology: An Introductory Reader, edited by Wim H. Kramer, Eberhard Bauer, and Gerd H. Hovelmann was the result of this conference. Containing thirteen contributed articles and an 126 page working bibliography, the book can be considered an up-to-date introduction to this developing field. It can serve as a guide for psychotherapists, psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, and family doctors who find themselves confronted with clients who report apparently “paranormal” emotional experiences, but do not exhibit the traditional signs of psychopathology.

There are a small number of professionally-staffed outpatient clinics in Europe and South America that serve people experiencing paranormal emergencies. However, resources for those suffering in North America and other parts of the world are limited. Fortunately, several chapters in the book give staff members of these clinics an opportunity to share their methods. In the chapter Experiences with Psi Counseling in Holland, Wim H. Kramer summarizes the types of complaints that are common at his counseling practice and outlines two kinds of therapeutic techniques. Clinical psychologist Ian R. Tierney of the University of Edinburgh offers the Lessons from a Case Study, where he outlines the successes and failures of his therapeutic approach to a particular counseling case in which a woman was distressed by apparent psychokinetic events happening around her. In the Group Therapy Approach to Exceptional Human Experiences, Alejandro Parra presents the techniques applied by the staffed professionals at his Argentinian institute. And the overview of Counseling at the IGPP (Institute for Border Areas of Psychology and Mental Hygiene at Freiburg University, Germany) should be considered required reading for anyone interested in establishing their own counseling practice to serve those distressed by anomalous experiences.

The bulk of Perspectives of Clinical Parapsychology contains 2,400 entries of Gerd H. Hovelmann's working bibliography Clinical Aspects of Exceptional Human Experiences. The quality of the material, which spans many different languages and an array of mainstream scientific journals, demonstrates that counseling paranormal experiencers has been more than just a fringe interest for some time. In fact, the sheer volume of research presented in this final chapter seems to run counter to the idea that the worldwide availability of competent clinical services is unsatisfactory. However, as noted by Hovelmann, “up to quite recently there have been only a few systematic, coordinated actually provide adequate counseling and treatment models for those who have (or claim to have) such non-ordinary experiences. Much less has there been any concerted transform empirical research findings, theory building and related treatment models into practical counseling approaches” (p.190). This book may be considered one such attempt.

Whether or not a variety paranormal experiences can be seen as scientifically proven phenomena is still a matter of debate. But reports of distress resulting from paranormal experiences in otherwise psychologically healthy people are widespread. The knowledge and methods shared in Perspectives of Clinical Parapsychology can assist professionals who are evaluating these kinds of reports in clinical, counseling, and social welfare settings, and may help them ease the suffering of those who are having a paranormal emergency.

Kramer, W., Bauer, E., & Hövelmann, G. (2012). Perspectives of Clinical Parapsychology : An Introductory Reader. Bunnik : Stichting HJBF, 320 p.

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