Shamanism In Psychotherapy: First Session

He speaks about the changes in his life. I listen. Having been asked to provide counseling, I’m attentive as a mental health clinician. I’m also listening to, and sensing, the activity of the spirits.

From one point of view, the life challenges he brings to therapy are very much in the realm of personal psychology. From the other, there are many players, some maybe present for many generations. Even though the person in front of me probably chose me because I have training as both a clinician and a shamanic practitioner, chances are he is more comfortable finding the source of his difficulties within himself.

My task  is to address both realms. I ask for a moment’s pause, turn inside, and briefly journey. I am aware of great complexity in this man’s story. There is trauma, a fractured sense of self, and, as so often is the case when a person has experienced trauma, I sense the presence of a number of attached energy beings.  I might be able to remove the energy beings, but unless we address the trauma, they will simply reattach. If I only address the trauma, without dealing with the attachments, the energy beings will do their best to impede the healing.

There is also soul loss; aspects of self the person have placed in hiding for their protection. He has mentioned a sense of profound loss, as though some part of him had been stolen away. Perhaps it has. We will need to gather the lost aspects of self and return them to his person. Again, timing is everything. If we attempt to reintegrate them before he is truly ready to accept them, along with whatever memories they hold, they may be rejected. I suggest, in passing, we might want to address the issues of attachments and soul loss. He responds with understandable hopelessness and pessimism.

I consider the appropriateness of a ritual or ceremony to rekindle hope, to help him reconnect to Spirit, and find refuge. I ask about his experience of ceremony and ritual. He is dubious. The ritual, if there is to be one, must wait til he feels more trust in his capacity to heal.

The hour is over. I’d like to have more time, but the convention we are working with is the hour. I ask whether he would like to schedule another session. We shake hands and he leaves. Our healing journey together has begun.

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