Christina Grof: The Spiritual Aspect of Human Nature

· January 12, 2019
Christina’s work and life have inspired millions of people. She was a therapist whose brave legacy is worth studying due to how enriching and human it was.

Christina Grof was the founder of the Spiritual Emergency Network and one of the creators of holotropic breathwork. She was a brilliant psychotherapist, president of Grof Transpersonal Training, and vice-president of the International Transpersonal Association.

She wrote many books, but many still know her as the wife of American psychiatrist Stan Grof, one of the most renowned experts on transpersonal psychology.

But Doctor Grof’s work wouldn’t be what it is today without his wife, Christina. Before passing away in 2014, Christina Grof worked for over 30 years in transpersonal psychology. She dedicated most of her time to giving workshops and conferences around the world. Today, we remember her as the pioneer of avant-garde therapeutic techniques. Also, she coined the term “spiritual emergency” with her husband.

Christina Grof’s story

Christina Grof kindly shared her story, her experiences, and the difficulties she had to face due to her altered states of consciousness that occurred spontaneously. Since she was very young, she was interested in yoga and started having strange psychic and physiological experiences. That was a symptom of her “spiritual awakening”.

At that moment, she thought those symptoms indicated a kind of psychosis and she even thought she was going crazy.

Her doctors treated her with morphine and chlorpromazine for some time to try to reduce the symptoms, but they only made them worse. Anthropologist Joseph Campbell, one of Christina’s mentors, introduced her to an innovative therapist, Stan Grof, who she married shortly after.

After her transpersonal crisis, Christina and her husband founded the Spiritual Emergency Network (SEN). 

Christina Grof and husband.

The Spiritual Emergency Network (SEN)

This organization helped people with psychospiritual crises for several decades. It was founded so that these people could get specialized help. They developed alternative treatments for addiction, attachment, and spiritual crises and worked together on holotropic breathwork. In fact, holotropic breathing was created from breathing techniques that Christina had learned.

Also, Christina and her husband came up with a way to substitute psychedelic substances to get their patients into altered states of consciousness.

That’s how they founded the International Transpersonal Association (ITA). Grof developed a complete treatment program for alcoholism and other addictions, which combined the twelve-step program with transpersonal psychology.

During this time, Grof wrote several books about addiction and her own spiritual path. Some of her best books are The Thirst for Wholeness: Attachment, Addiction, and the Spiritual Path and The Eggshell Landing: Love, Death, and Forgiveness in Hawaii. She also wrote three other books with her husband: Spiritual Emergency: When Personal Transformation Becomes Crisis, The Stormy Search for the Self, and Holotropic Breathwork: A New Approach to Self-Exploration and Therapy.

Transpersonal psychology

Christina Grof was a pioneer in transpersonal psychology. This type of psychology had a different approach to emotional, physical, mental and spiritual aspects of human nature. Christina and her husband explored parts of human beings that classic Western psychology had ignored.

She dared to work with and have faith in people who had another type of consciousness, people who would have otherwise ended up wrongly diagnosed and in psychiatric centers.

Man with enlightened mind.

Christina Grof went unnoticed. She lived in her husband’s shadow for many years, even though they always worked together and she was responsible for some of his most successful contributions to therapy.

Christina’s work and life have inspired many people. She was a brave therapist whose legacy will live on.