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Limitations

The primary criticism of transpersonal theory is that its methodology often delves into the highly abstract, the deeply spiritual, and what some might even consider the paranormal (a claim refuted by transpersonalists), making empirical study under controlled situations difficult at best (W. W. Adams, 1999). Secularists may perceive transpersonalism as unscientific nonsense, whereas Christian and other theistic writers may view its positions as the latest version of a spiritually misguided Gnosticism that they hoped had been vanquished centuries ago (G. Adams, 2002). In addition to these views, there has also been some debate as to the ethicality and effectiveness of transpersonal interventions with serious mental health issues, with some practitioners calling transpersonalism in counseling downright dangerous (Ellis, 1962). For these reasons, transpersonal theory has attracted debate from such famous theorists as Albert Ellis, who spoke out against transpersonalism with articles titled "Dangers of Transpersonal Psychology" (1989) and "Fanaticism That May Lead to a Nuclear Holocaust" (1986) and held a spirited debate in the Journal of Counseling & Development in the late 1980s against Ken Wilber, who responded with a sarcastically titled article "Let's Nuke the Transpersonalists" (1989).

The limitations and criticisms of transpersonal theory have done little to halt its progress as a widely used counseling modality, however. The academic literature regarding transpersonal theory has continued to grow well into the 21st century and shows no signs of slowing down. Although followers of traditional theory may not be prepared to accept or understand some of the complicated spiritual tenets that lie at the core of transpersonal theory, more and more counselors and clients seeking counseling in a more deeply spiritual realm continue to be attracted to this burgeoning field.

 
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