Spiritual Counseling and Conscious Awakening
Research suggests a therapist's inclusion of an individual's spiritual beliefs may assist in therapy and in the process of healing. Spirituality is generally considered to be broader than any religion one might practice, as it takes into account cognitive and philosophic areas of thought as well as aspects of emotions and behavior. It is the attempt to understand one's nature and the meaning of one's existence, and is also linked to internal awareness and happiness.
Many cultures and belief systems hold that spirit is the essence of one's existence and spirituality describes a person’s connection to others and to themselves, to the attention people pay to their own well-being and that of others. For many, the practice of dance, yoga, meditation, or volunteer work, among others, are outlets in which to express spirituality.
Emotional and mental health, physical health, and spiritual health are all part of total wellness. The mind and body are connected, so when wellness in one area is lacking, other areas of health might be affected. I work with individuals to explore their spiritual wellness and help increase insight into the ways their core beliefs and values are reflected in their behavior. Real change comes about through inner work, when we “attend to soul” and discover who we are.
Psychedelic Integration and Prep**
Integration restructures the mind, body, and spirit after an experience of a non-ordinary state of consciousness. It involves therapeutic and somatic processing of the experience and support incorporating insights. Integration centers on compassion, empathy, education, and safety to create a transformative experience of the psyche and spirit and create an easier transition into day-to-day life with new perspectives.
My support related to psychedelic integration and prep does not mean I recommend or encourage these activities, but I do believe in providing services and therapeutic support for those desiring a comforting container after an experience and/or who are exploring this approach to healing. I utilize techniques from the perspectives of harm-reduction, transpersonal, humanistic and existential psychologies, expressive arts, inner child work, and sand play. I am also involved with the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), and engage in their trainings and abide by their protocols.
That being said, it is important to share that I have the upmost respect for psychedelic medicine, especially plant medicine. The lineage and history of these medicines is an integral part of our discussion, and an important aspect in showing respect for the medicine. Many individuals who are interested in other states of consciousness and integration are desiring personal transformation, psychic growth, deeper awareness of the ego and its role in behavioral and emotional patterns, and enhanced union with the world of spirit.
A daily mindfulness and meditation practice, and its associated benefits, are accessible to anyone regardless of their religion, culture, politics or ideology. Beginning from within, mindfulness and presence honors the mind-body-energetic connection and supports an increased awareness of all aspects of the self.
Research points to several benefits of utilizing mindfulness and meditation practices including lasting decreases in physical and psychological symptoms, an increased ability to relax, reductions in pain levels and an enhanced ability to cope with chronic pain, greater energy and enthusiasm for life, improved self-esteem, and an ability to cope more effectively with both short-term and long-term stressful situations.
I support individuals in creating a waking practice that can be integrated into their current life and explore potential challenges to practicing presence. In sessions, I guide clients through a variety of meditation techniques, including mindfulness of the body, guided visualization, and shamanic journeying in order to find the style that resonates most strongly. The ultimate practice is to partake in a waking meditation that can exist in any moment of life, rather than learning to simply create a consistent formal meditation practice.
Energy healing techniques are used to clear stagnation and to bring your mind, body, and spirit or energetic field into alignment. These energy techniques contain their own intelligence to deliver healing wherever and however they are needed most. The human body develops from two cells, and scientists still cannot understand or explain how that is possible. There is an undeniable intelligence that permeates the very cells of our bodies, and according to physics research, everything that exists is part of a connected field of energy. Energy medicine allows people to become aware or open up to this intelligent field from which healing occurs.
Energy therapies aim to create a state of balance, health, and peace in a person. An underlying theory to energy therapies involves energy blockages or imbalances that lead to illness and disease. The right side of the neocortex, the higher brain, operates on stories and myths, not facts. Most of us have powerful myths that operate in the psyche like computer programs running continually in the background. We're not even aware of them, but they drive our basic sense of self-worth and our vision of the world, coloring the way we live from day to day. This can sometimes make it incredibly difficult to change these belief systems cognitively and create energetic blocks.
It is my belief that energy medicine helps to clear these blocks, which in turn helps release old cognitive patterns and beliefs. I utilize a combination of Reiki and shamanic energy techniques to support the body to be at its optimal condition for life energy to flow freely, thereby affording the opportunity for natural healing properties to occur, as well as support individuals to integrate the experience.
While many clients benefit from traditional psychotherapist’s training in mental and emotional symptoms and treatment, a client’s spiritual self is all too often left at the door when entering the therapy office. Many ancient and indigenous traditions assert much of our suffering originates on the spiritual level of our being, and that by tending to our spirituality we can become joyful, empowered, and at ease, and that will naturally improve life for all beings. As a Westener borrowing these sacred techniques, I am aware of the potential cultural appropriation that may be involved, and I hold sacred awareness within my work with clients.
The knowledge that all past experiences are encoded in our energy field underlies the ancient healing practices of the Americas and has been rediscovered by current practitioners of energy psychology. Shamanic techniques and rituals are powerful ways of working with the natural elements and energy of life for healing, manifesting, grieving, letting go, moving on, moving towards, celebrating, marking a transition, or anything that feels appropriate. This approach to healing is based on seven principles:
Allies – Both the client and the therapist have unseen allies that can assist with treatment.
Journeys – Non-ordinary states of consciousness, like journeys and dreams, give us access to other dimensions.
Ritual – Rituals create opportunities to bring deep wisdom into our lives in a palpable way (soul retrieval; ancestral healing; feeding your demons).
Initiation – Life is continuously initiating us into deeper levels of awareness and usefulness.
Recapitulation – In order to become fully empowered in the present, we must heal energy from past events in the now
Sacred Rhythms – The rhythm of life flows through all things.
Openness to Outcome – Neither the client nor therapist knows what healing will look like.
Albert Einstein said, “We cannot solve our problems with the same level of thinking we used when we created them.” Traditional psychotherapy attempts to resolve emotional and mental challenges through emotional expression and mental revision – using the same level of thinking. Shamanic Healing takes us beyond the mental-emotional to the level of the spirit, of pure awareness.
Sand Play and Tarot
Sand Play is a play therapy modality, which consists of a person creating whatever he or she feels like making with a wide assortment of miniature figures in a tray of sand in the presence of a trained professional. Generally this is done in silence. There is no judgment or comment from the therapist. The miniature figures include representations of all parts of life and fantasy.
It is the “inner world,” or psyche, of the person that chooses the figures and arranges them in the sand tray. In this way, the unconscious parts of us become visible and are shared in a safe setting, including challenges, remedies, and potentials. Sand play work is much like working with dream imagery and symbolism, except that it is three-dimensional and concrete, so the imagery does not “fade away." People become more aware of what stands in the way of their continued growth and personal development because it sits in front of them in the sand tray.
Tarot decks, with their easy-to-understand symbolism, are so useful in healing and therapeutic sessions because they allow people to see a story or narrative of their life. Seeing one's hopes and fears laid out in pictures makes them more obvious, which can be both validating and clarifying. Tarot cards have the potential to touch on blind spots in a way that few other tools can. Even without interpretation from the clinician, a single image can provide a brand new way of seeing life.
Tarot is a symbolic map of consciousness that encompasses the human journey through life, both spiritually and practically. Tarot reading is the practice of divining wisdom and guidance, to provide insight into the innermost truths of one's higher self. In other words, the cards provide an evolved awareness of what you already know deep within.
**PLEASE NOTE: Psychedelic integration therapy involves the therapeutic processing of psychedelic experiences after the fact, rather than during a session. As a psychotherapist overseen by the California Board of Behavioral Sciences, I follow a harm reduction philosophy of substance use. I do not encourage engagement in illegal activities, including the purchase and consumption of illegal substances. I do not offer guided psychedelic experiences, nor do I see clients who are under the influence of psychedelic substances during sessions. I do not assist clients in finding or obtaining illegal substances. If you are interested in a guided psychedelic experience to address mental health issues, you may wish to visit the MAPS website to see whether you might qualify to participate in a current trial.