Spiritual Emergence Seattle A consultation service offered by 
Janet Elizabeth Colli, Ph.D. that integrates 
psycho-spiritual, physiological & community support.

“Never in my life have I witnessed anything so profound. I was completely stunned. I had the acute sense that I was watching an ecological process, a force of nature in motion, like waves crashing or leaves unfurling…. It was the most arresting, guileless, palpably moving display I have ever seen. This was clearly not coming from mind, or a rational place, but rather from a much deeper level. A well of soul.”

— Clara Lindstrom
“Better Living Through Chemistry? Not Necessarily.”

Spiritually transformative experiences (STEs) appear to be the gateway to a biologically-based transformation of the human personality.  At times, the evolutionary process of spiritual emergence becomes a crisis, and one’s egoic defenses suffer a breakdown.  Support that integrates psycho-spiritual, physiological & community resources may be needed.  Ultimately, one may be radically transformed and achieve higher-order functioning, including creative and healing gifts.

No creature... can attain a higher grade of nature without ceasing to exist.
— Ananda Coomaraswamy


Transformational Crisis & Metamorphosis

Shamanic or transformational crisis is a process by which human consciousness evolves. Joseph Campbell describes this universal process in “The Hero With a Thousand Faces” (see Shamanic Illness). Transformational crisis occurs today among modern-day shamans, who are initiated by a variety of intense stressors. Experiencers emerge from the ordeal transformed—with the conviction that a great truth or a “new world” has been discovered. Fundamentally, the metamorphosesundergone by indigenous shamans occur today through psychogenic or physical illness. Spiritual emergence.

 A transformational crisis involves “emotional healing, a radical shift in values, and a profound awareness of the mystical dimension of existence…. for some, these changes can be so rapid and dramatic that they interfere with effective everyday functioning, creating tremendous inner turmoil.
— Stanislav Grof


The Initiation of a
Modern-day Shaman

Spiritually transformative experiences (STEs) may happen in many different contexts. I have assisted in the following:

  • Anomalous trauma, e.g., close encounters
  • Ayurvedic treatment (Panchakarma)
  • Bipolar I & II
  • Cancer
  • Dissociative disorders
  • Grief
  • Ketamine (for dental procedures), or entheogens
  • Kundalini awakening
  • Physical injury
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Toxic poisoning


Trauma & Dissociation as an Evolutionary Process

A transformational crisis involves seemingly overwhelming intensity and a fundamental challenge to one’s egoic identity. The stages of psycho-spiritual transformation include:

  1. A Shattering: Dissociation
  2. Psychological absorption: Functional dissociation
  3. Transcendence
  4. Integration

A transformational shift unlocks the discovery of a truer identity and what connects one with the cosmos. With support, this process can result in radical spontaneous healing. It is potentially beneficial and should be supported rather than suppressed.

“The emergence [of difficult symptoms] into consciousness, traditionally seen as a sign of mental illness, may actually be the organism’s radical effort to free itself from the effects of various traumas, simplify its functioning, and heal itself.
— Christina Grof & Stanislav Grof
“The Stormy Search for the Self”


Am I Crazy or…
Spiritually Transforming?

Years ago as a [Spiritual Emergency Network] helper I was taught that true spiritual emergencies  generally happen to mentally healthy people, probably as a developmental step. In contrast, real mental illness was categorized as somehow not spiritual, as it was more devastating, permanent, the realm of therapists and drugs, and by implication hopeless…. I’ve come to reject that model.
— Grant McFetridge
“Spiritual Emergency and the Triune Brain”

Spiritual emergence may present with the symptomatology of psychiatric disorders. What if transformational crisis happens within the context of a psychiatric hospitalization? Such experiences are at odds with the medical model of Western psychiatry that emphasizes pathology, and prescribes anti-psychotic medication. Is there a coherent approach that finds no absolute delineation between spiritual emergence and what we call mental illness?

A historical perspective begins with the presumed difference between authentic spiritual experience and psychiatric illness. We have come a long way since Kundalini awakening was framed as transcendence versus psychosis. A more functional approach to spiritual emergence takes into account the experiencer’s perspective, their communication & meta-communication skills, as well as their physiological needs.

How Can I Help?

If spiritually transformative experiences (STEs) are biologically-based, we cannot neglect human physiology. An upgrade in Western medicine, specifically psychiatry, is on the horizon. As the physiological underpinnings of psychological symptoms are more readily understood, our perspective on “mental illness” is transforming. My therapeutic model and approach to spiritual emergence can be likened to the grounded support of a three-legged stool:

  1. Psycho-spiritual support, including trauma therapy;
  2. Physiological support, including Functional Medicine’s epigenetic approach;
  3. Community support, including Spiritual Emergence support groups.

Just as it takes a village to raise a child, it may take a team approach to facilitate spiritual emergence.  Spiritual Emergence Seattle can help provide resources that integrate psycho-spiritual, physiological & community support.


Janet Elizabeth Colli, Ph.D. is a psychotherapist in the Pacific Northwest specializing in integrating trauma and spiritual awakening. With expertise in both Clinical and Transpersonal Psychology, she bridges psychology with the extraordinary, and the mystical. Professionally, she has been in private practice for 25 years in Washington, and has presented at the American Center for the Integration of Spiritually Transformative Experiences (ACISTE). Janet’s personal story embraces a family legacy of Bipolar disorder, and a family member’s psychiatric hospitalization during a spiritually transformative experience. Catalyzed by a STE during cancer treatment, she now provides psycho-spiritual support for a full range of processes.

Janet’s newest book, The Dark Face of Heaven: True Stories of Transcendence Through Trauma is a compelling account of spiritual awakening and non-ordinary experience revealed during trauma therapy. Dolphin Dreams, Janet’s story of psycho-spiritual transformation, is included in Bernie Siegel’s A Book of Miracles. Author of the highly acclaimed book, Sacred Encounters: Spiritual Awakenings During Close Encounters, Janet lives on Whidbey Island and swims with wild dolphins in Hawaii.


Janet Colli, Ph.D.
Thomas Beck, Ph.D.
206.329.9235 (Seattle)
360.678.7737 (Whidbey Island)

The Good Shepherd Center
4649 Sunnyside Ave. N., Ste. 341
Seattle, Washington 98103, also
Coupeville (Whidbey Island)


Janet Colli, Ph.D.
Thomas Beck, Ph.D.
206.329.9235 (Seattle)
360.678.7737 (Whidbey Island)

The Good Shepherd Center
4649 Sunnyside Ave. N., Ste. 341
Seattle, Washington 98103, also
Coupeville (Whidbey Island)



Personal stories of spiritual crises are presented alongside practical guidance. When spiritual emergencies, such as mystical psychosis and dark nights of the soul, are understood, managed, and integrated, they offer enormous potential for growth. An essential resource for avoiding the paralysis or exhaustion that can result from the current age of increased individual and global emergencies.



The world's foremost authorities on spiritual emergence draw on years of dramatic personal and professional experience with transformative states to explore altered states so powerful they threaten to overwhelm the individual's ordinary reality. The cycle of inner death and rebirth that typifies spiritual emergency ultimately leads to personal transformation through a connection to a transcendent Higher Power. This book provides insights, assurances and practical suggestions for those experiencing such a crisis, for their friends and families, and mental-health professionals.



During a self-help seminar, Sean Blackwell entered a state of ecstasy so powerful he thought he had died and was headed for Heaven. Instead, he was arrested, handcuffed and shipped to a psychiatric hospital where he was restrained and forcibly medicated during a traumatic stay. Once released, Sean rejected the possibility that he had a mental disorder. Instead, he began a search for the deeper meaning of his abrupt awakening. This book brings light to those wondering "Am I really crazy?"




Janet Elizabeth Colli, Ph.D.
The Dark Face of Heaven is a compelling account of spiritual awakening—revealed during trauma therapy.
Available at Amazon.com



Paris Williams takes the reader on a highly engaging journey of discovery, exploring how the mainstream understanding of schizophrenia has become so profoundly misguided.  He reveals the findings of his own groundbreaking research of people who have fully recovered from schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders, weaving their stories into the existing literature and crafting a surprisingly clear and coherent vision of the entire psychotic process, from onset to full recovery.



Am I Crazy or Spiritually Transforming: Beyond the Differentiation of  Psychiatric and Spiritually Transformative Experiences

Janet Elizabeth Colli, Ph.D.
Journal of Near-Death Studies, Winter 2014, 33(2), pp. 99-110.

Abstract: Spiritually transformative experiences (STEs) may sometimes present with the symptomatology of psychiatric disorders. Transformational crisis may even occur within the context of a psychiatric hospitalization. Such STEs are at odds with the medical model of Western psychiatry that emphasizes pathology.... A more functional approach to spiritual emergency takes into account the perspective of experiencers, their communication and meta-communication skills, and the integration process itself. One case from the popular literature and two cases from the author’s psychotherapy practice are presented to demonstrate that the list of causative experiences for STEs can include what is diagnosable as a psychiatric condition, specifically, bipolar disorder.


Copyright © 2019 Janet Colli