Have you ever wondered what the Elements Model is and how useful is it in Psychotherapy?

Have you ever wondered what the Elements Model is and how useful is it in Psychotherapy? Or indeed have you ever heard of the Elements Model?

The Elements Model has a balanced view of personality and emphasises the potential of clients. The Elements Model indicates that whilst we might have a particular orientation and that we can develop other parts for a more balanced type. This is different to whatJung believed.  For Jung, we have a type of personality in that in some areas of our life, we are extroverted but introverted in other areas. The Elements Model has 3 positions:expressivereceptive and balanced.  Therefore, the model comprises twelve types in all, master, prophet and saint. However, no one is a pure type in this model as oscillate between different positions.


1. air (expressive, receptive, balanced)

2. fire (expressive, receptive, balanced)

3. water (expressive, receptive, balanced)

4. earth (expressive, receptive, balanced)

The focus of the Elements Model is on unfolding qualities

The Elements Model in its current form is unique to the CCPE‘s transpersonal approach to understanding personality as ‘an individual’s unique expression of the divine’; its focus is unfolding qualities (Gruber, 2007). The aim of the Elements Model is to bring balance and harmony between the elements. Speaking one’s truth (fire quality) without sensitivity and empathy (water qualities) can become blunt hurtfulness and arrogance. In transpersonal therapy the therapist must then identify the quality that is needed to restore balance. The aim of everyone is to be the Prophet, can they either be master or saint. This is done in stages and several rules apply. However, developing a new element is the most difficult thing to do. One should try to balance an element that is already strong before trying to develop a new element.

In order to develop latent qualities, it is necessary to see those qualities in another person. The one who sees beauty becomes beautiful. The therapist assesses with the client which quality is needed to enable them to deal more effectively with the problem. The Elements Model is thus a holistic health model that affirms existing qualities within a person and is underpinned with a belief in human potential – a potential that has its roots in our essential spiritual nature.

neither evidence-based, nor underpinned by science

I like an approach that affirms existing qualities and one in which focuses on potential.Critics of the Elements Model, however, suggest that being unique to CCPE renders it of limited use in a multidisciplinary setting. It is neither evidence-based, nor underpinned by science, but encourages observation and inner knowing rather than learned knowledge. Critics also argue that those with borderline personality or psychotic symptoms are not appropriate candidates for transpersonal therapy techniques because of the potential for ego defences to be overwhelmed. But these conditions are probably relative contraindications at best. However, for Linehan , she used mindfulness techniques and visualisation with borderline patients in Dialectical Behaviour Therapy and suggested that even patients with fragile or unstable ego functioning can benefit from such work.

when and indeed how I intervene is what makes psychotherapy an art form

Transpersonal psychotherapy is not alone in encompassing spirituality into treatment. Other modalities allow for the spiritual in their therapeutic approach but transpersonal psychotherapy actively involves the spiritual element in the client work. However, bodywork and meditation can only give me images and these must reflect the client narrative.  I may have all sorts of theories in my head and techniques up my sleeve but these will be redundant if I am not truly conscious in the therapeutic relationship. However, when and indeed how I intervene is what makes psychotherapy an art form. If I was interested in purely evidenced based interventions then I might have studied clinical psychology instead.


About Noel Bell

Psychotherapist in London. Check out my blog posts and more at www.noelbell.net
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