Christina Grof: the Spiritual Aspect of Human Nature

Christina’s work and life has been an inspiration for millions of people. A courageous therapist whose work and legacy, still today, should be kept in mind as enriching and humane.


Christina Grof was the founder of the Spiritual Emergency Network and one of the main creators and inspirers of holotropic breathing. She was a brilliant and innovative psychotherapist, president of Transpersonal Training and vice president of the International Transpersonal Association ITA.

She is the author of numerous books. Even so, many still know her just because she is the wife of the American psychiatrist Stan Grof, one of the great teachers and pioneer of transpersonal psychology.

But Dr. Grof’s work would not be what it is today without his wife Christina. Before passing away, in 2014, Christina Grof worked for more than 30 years in the field of transpersonal psychology. He spent much of his time giving workshops and giving lectures around the world. Today we remember a figure who developed one of the most avant-garde therapeutic techniques and, together with her husband, coined the term “spiritual emergency”.

The story of Christina Grof

Christina Grof generously shared her story, her experiences and the difficulties she encountered because of her many altered states of consciousness that happened spontaneously. From a young age he became interested in the practice of yoga and from a very young age he also began to have strange psychic and physiological experiences. They were symptoms of a spiritual “awakening”. This is how she would name him later. Because the truth is that at that moment all the symptoms indicated a kind of psychosis and she herself thought that she was going crazy.

Her doctors treated her for a while with morphine and torazine to try to “calm down” the symptoms, but this made things even worse. Christina was introduced by one of her teachers, the anthropologist Joseph Campbell, to an innovative therapist at the time, Stan Grof, with whom she married shortly thereafter. In the wake of her transpersonal crisis, or spiritual emergency, Christina and her husband created the Spiritual Emergency Network (SEN) at the Esalen Institute.

The spiritual emergency network SEN

This organization helped people with psychospiritual crises for several decades. It was founded so that these people could receive specialized help without falling into the psychiatric stigma. They developed alternative treatments to treat mystical search, addiction and addiction. Together they worked on holotropic breathing. A therapy that developed from the breathing techniques that Christina had learned from oriental traditions. They did it in order to somehow replace the psychedelic substances with which Stan Grof experimented to achieve altered states of consciousness in his patients.

They created the International Transpersonal Association ITA. They also developed a comprehensive treatment program for alcoholism and addictions that mixed the Twelve Step Program and transpersonal psychology. At this time Christina Grof writes several books on addictions and their relationship with spiritual search.

Among his books are: The Thirst for Wholeness: Attachment, Addiction and Spiritual Path, the self-biographical memories The Eggshell Landing: Love, Death and Forgiveness in Hawaii. Then she would write four other books together to her husband: Spiritual emergency: when personal transformation becomes a crisis; The stormy search of the self: and holotropic breathing: a new approach to self-exploration and therapy.

Transpersonal psychology

Christina Grof was one of the pioneers of transpersonal psychology. This type of psychology accommodates emotional, physical, mental and spiritual aspects of human nature. Christina and her husband explored fields of human being that the traditional psychology of the West has always ignored. His work on spiritual emergencies is unique.

Christina Grof dared to work and to bet on people who were awakening another type of consciousness and who otherwise would have ended up misdiagnosed and surely admitted to psychiatric centers.

Christina Grof passed more unnoticed than she would have been without her husband’s shadow, although both always worked together and many of the most successful contributions of her therapies were contributed by her. Christina’s work and life has been an inspiration for millons of people. So, we can say that he was one of those people who left the world leaving him a little better than they found him. A courageous therapist whose work and legacy, still today, should be kept in mind as enriching and humane.