International Journal of Transpersonal Studies


This paper proposes a parallelism between existential psychotherapy and the psychospiritual healing function Negro Spirituals had for enslaved people in the United States. The songs’ beauty and profundity are asserted as having high value in their therapeutic function. The courage and wisdom enslaved people employed to resist psychic domination are discussed in conjunction with examples of their ways of maintaining hope, which is viewed as a prerequisite for their restorative use of the Spirituals. The attributes of sound and music are discussed with descriptions of how they have been used to substantiate the power of the Spirituals as distinct expressions of sound healing. The songs’ comparability to existentialist psychotherapy is demonstrated with an analysis of their therapeutic content.