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Review Essays of Academic, Professional & Technical Books in the Humanities & Sciences



Transforming Self and Others Through Research: Transpersonal Research Methods and Skills for the Human Sciences and Humanities by Rosemarie Anderson and William Braud (SUNY Series in Transpersonal and Humanistic Psychology: SUNY Press)

Research approaches in the field of transpersonal psychology can be transformative for researchers, participants, and the audience of a project. Transforming Self and Others Through Research offers these transformative approaches to those conducting research across the human sciences and the humanities. Rosemarie Anderson and William Braud first described such methods in their book Transpersonal Research Methods for the Social Sciences (1998). Since that time, in hundreds of empirical studies, these methods have been tested and integrated with qualitative, quantitative, and mixed-method research designs. Anderson, Professor of Transpersonal Psychology at the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology and Braud, Professor Emeritus at the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology, writing with a contribution from Jennifer Clements, invite scholars to bring multiple ways of knowing and personal resources to their scholarship. While emphasizing established research conventions for rigor, Anderson and Braud encourage researchers to plumb the depths of intuition, imagination, play, mindfulness, compassion, creativity, and embodied writing as research skills. Experiential exercises to help readers develop these skills are provided.

Transformation – in the form of important, meaningful, and sometimes profound changes in one's attitudes and views of oneself and of the world at large – can occur while conducting research in the researcher or scholar; other participants, including colleagues and research participants; the readers or audience of the report; and even in the society or culture in which the researcher or scholar is situated. In the forms in which research typically is conducted, transformative changes sometimes may occur as spontaneous, unintended side effects or aftereffects of a research project. However, it is possible to deliberately increase the likelihood of transformative changes in all research personnel by choosing inquiry approaches and emphasizing research skills that involve the researcher to a much greater degree than usually is the case and that allow the researcher to actualize aspects of herself or himself that typically are ignored and remain untapped during the course of a research project. The purpose of Transforming Self and Others Through Research is to describe some of these transformation-fostering approaches and skills and to suggest ways of using them in research and scholarly endeavors throughout the human sciences and humanities.

Since the authors themselves are human science researchers, this book primarily addresses scientific research in the human sciences. Nevertheless, the transformative methods and skills described in this book are equally applicable to scholarly inquiry in the humanities. More generally, the humanities and human sciences would also be enriched by more collaborative, multidisciplinary efforts on related topics, a theme detailed in the final section of Chapter 2 and in Chapter 9, A Transformative Vision for Research and Scholarship.
Transforming Self and Others Through Research provides detailed descriptions of ways in which self and others may be transformed through research. Personal transformation involves a qualitative shift in one's life view and/or worldview. Such a shift may occur rapidly or gradually, dramatically or subtly. Transformation may manifest as changes in one's perspective, understandings, attitudes, ways of knowing and doing, and way of being in the world. It may be recognized by changes in one's body, feelings and emotions, ways of thinking, forms of expression, and relationships with others and with the world.

Transforming Self and Others Through Research suggests that personal and communal transformation can be an accompaniment or outcome of research if (a) the research project has great personal meaning and is one in which the researcher can become intimately involved, (b) the chosen research approach is an expansive and inclusive one that allows the researcher to engage in a greater variety of ways of knowing than usually is the case, and (c) the researcher more fully prepares herself or himself (and prepares the research participants and even the expected audiences of the work) for the project at hand by identifying and improving a set of additional research skills that ordinarily are neglected. These three conditions allow the researcher to be personally and more fully engaged in all phases of a research project, thereby actualizing many of the researcher's latent potentials. The researcher may further activate these potentials by approaching a research project with explicit intentions for enhanced self-awareness and transformative changes in all research personnel, by reviving and holding those intentions throughout the project, and by explicitly reflecting, at the conclusion of the project, on whether and how those aims were realized.

The chapters in Transforming Self and Others Through Research describe techniques that can complement already familiar methods and procedures for planning a study, collecting and analyzing data, and reporting findings. Part 1 describes three recently developed research approaches – each informed by principles and practices from the growing field of transpersonal psychology – that emphasize personal involvement and transformative possibilities. Part 2 provides detailed instructions for identifying, practicing, and enhancing a variety of specific skills and applying these in any research context. Although these specific skills are commonly used in contexts of personal life, professional applications (counseling and clinical work, health care, educational and training contexts), and individual psycho-spiritual growth and development, their research relevance and actual use in research projects have rarely been treated. The most distinctive feature of Part 2 – and of the entire book – is the recognition that these personal skills and practices can be applied in the service of more effective research and in the service of transformative changes in self and others.

The book includes step-by-step instructions, practical information, many experiential exercises, and many examples based on the authors' extensive research experience and their experience in teaching undergraduate and graduate research courses and supervising master's theses and doctoral dissertations.

Anderson and Braud add an exciting and significant dimension to current developments in qualitative inquiry. This is bold, creative, and inspiring work, and with both clarity and passion, puts forth a vital challenge to traditional assumptions about the nature of both research and knowledge. – Kenneth J. Gergen, author of Relational Being: Beyond Self and Community
In recent decades, transpersonal psychology has begun to influence kindred fields, including clinical research. Transforming Self and Others Through Research is a splendid example of this enrichment. This book transcends the conventional concept of researcher and subject as separate entities, as self and other. It reveals how the research process can be a path of personal development and psycho-spiritual maturity for everyone involved. How I wish this book had been available when I studied research in graduate school. I hope it finds its way into every graduate nursing program in the nation. – Barbara Montgomery Dossey, author of Florence Nightingale: Mystic, Visionary, Healer
This excellent book deepens the authors' previous work on transpersonal modes of research. It works well as a source book, and in its comprehensive structure and scholarly content will be a model for quite some time. To my knowledge, there is simply no current work out there that brings so much material together in one place. – Robert D. Romanyshyn, author of The Wounded Researcher: Research with Soul in Mind
… This book builds on this perspective and provides an original, insightful, and honest way of inquiry. Their multi-methodological approach, emphasizing skills and exercises that intersect with the lives of the researchers, is refreshing and useful. Thanks for offering this approach to the world. – John W. Creswell, author of Research Design: Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed Methods Approaches

Transforming Self and Others Through Research focuses on distinctive approaches and techniques that complement and supplement these more familiar methods and that will be of interest to those who value the transformative possibilities of research projects as much as their informational yields. Throughout the book, the transpersonal research approaches and skills are presented in a detailed, student-friendly manner.

Transforming Self and Others Through Research is part of the ongoing development of collaborative and engaged research praxis in the human sciences. Besides its emphasis on transformation, another distinctive feature of this book is its inclusion of much more content-related information and resources than is typical for research methods books. The book can be used as a textbook in advanced undergraduate and graduate research courses in humanistic and transpersonal psychology and applied human science programs, such as professional schools of psychology, education, counseling, nursing, allied health, and public health. The book is also useful as a secondary text in conventional quantitative and qualitative research courses.



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