Spiritual Counseling

What does spirituality have to do with mental health?
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Our Integrated Treatment Model

For some people, spirituality can be pivotal in grappling with mental illness. The net of spirituality is spreading ever wider over human understanding of life and death, health and sickness, conflict and cooperation. Quantum physics, technology, and scores of reported individual human experiences over the last century leave little doubt that our material world is not necessarily all there is to existence. Some may call it energy or universal consciousness or paranormal phenomenon. Others may call it multidimensional planes or extrasensory experiences or God. However we label it, spirituality defines the human experience no more nor less than our physical humanity and the external reality in which we find ourselves.

Experience Transcends Belief.

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The trend in the development of mental health models of care and treatment is clearly moving toward integrated approaches that incorporate all dimensions of the human experience--mind, body, and spirit. Consider some of the following areas in which a spiritual component to mental health diagnosis and treatment may be applied.

(1) Loss and Grief

The exploration of spiritual dimensions can vary when assisting clients with immediate or persistent mental health problems. Counseling for grief and loss no longer asks us to forget and move on. Rather, we encourage clients to maintain a relationship with loved ones long after a death. We discuss spiritual beliefs and obstacles. We allow the client to share extraordinary experiences (i.e. paranormal experiences) and help integrate them into the healing process.

(2) Existential Issues

Young people and old alike who come into counseling often arrive with profoundly disconcerting existential questions about purpose and meaning in life. This is largely a spiritual problem, and as Viktor Frankl (20th-century neurologist/psychiatrist) has said, "In no case should the spiritual problems of a person be written off as a "symptom." Frankl believed in the validity of approaching psychotherapy in spiritual terms; not religious terms, nor imposition of a particular belief or philosophy on clients, but in terms of healing and opening each one to possibilities (Frankl, The Doctor and the Soul):

The goal of psychotherapy is to heal the soul, to make it healthy; the aim of religion is something essentially different--to save the soul....(and although) the psychotherapist is not concerned with helping his patient to achieve a capacity for faith, in certain felicitous cases the patient regains (the) capacity for faith.
(3) Chronic Conditions and Phobias

Clients also come into counseling because of physical issues of chronic illness or pain. Others come because of debilitating phobias or compulsive behaviors. Medication or cognitive behavioral therapy are often the first line of defense in such cases. From a spiritual perspective, however, there are other options. Past Life Regression Therapy (PLRT) has gained increasing validity in recent years among a wide variety of mental health and medical professionals in the treatment of illness, pain, and unexplained fears and behaviors. Brian Weiss MD, who has spearheaded this approach for more than thirty years, has written extensively about its successes. The use of PLRT does not require a belief in reincarnation or anything else that may be contrary to a person's religious or secular beliefs. It only asks that you consider the possibility that "experience transcends belief."

(4) Schizophrenia and Psychosis

Small children who in the past (and even today) may have been diagnosed with psychosis or early onset schizophrenia, may in fact have been experiencing past life memories or psychic abilities. Scores of cases are reported in research studies going back decades and, more recently, documented cases have appeared in the media. Before diagnosis and treatment using powerful psychotropic drugs, it is urgently important to explore this avenue with families.

Schizophrenia and psychosis may not always be the catastrophic diagnosis we might expect. In his book, The Far Side of Madness, first published in 1974 (from research in the 1950s), author John Weir Perry found that many cases of acute psychosis were actually the manifestation of visionary (sometimes spiritually charged) experiences that preceded efforts to heal and reorganize the Self. He demonstrated that "full-blown" schizophrenics were able to emerge on the far side of madness "weller than well," without any treatment by medication, electroshock, or locked doors.

Despite Weir's research, today's psychiatrists for the most part continue to treat acute psychosis and schizophrenia (even bipolar disorder diagnosed in the very young) medically with powerful psychotropic drugs. But other mental health practitioners are moving toward an integrated model of treatment in which the concept of spiritual crisis or "spiritual emergency" lies at the center of care.

For more information, check some of the following pages on this website.

Spiritual Emergency
Past Life Regression Therapy
Children's Past Life Memories

Our Integrated Treatment Model