Why Hear the “Psychotherapy and Spirituality Summit”

I watched/listened to the online conference listed above for 10 days.psych-spirit-final_1.png There were a total of 30 individual one-hour-plus sessions provided by 30 different presenters.

To untrained me who loves seeing the integration of both subjects into this unified psycho-spiritual approach to helping people, I think this methodology is extremely important in evolving psychotherapy for clients: to focus on ourselves as Spiritual beings simply trying to make sense of the world around us while determining our working relationship to it, to ourselves, and to each other.

There were some excellent speakers/practitioners participating in this summit; and the 30 individual sessions were totally worth hearing for those dedicated to listening within the allotted 24-hour, free-listening option, but I personally would not pay $300 for the DVD set, although some folks might. If you are interested, here it is: ( https://www.soundstrue.com/store/psychotherapy-and-spirituality-summit?sq=1&utm_source=bronto&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=C171108-PASParticipant10&utm_content=Welcome+to+Day+10+of+The+Psychotherapy+and+Spirituality+Summit#jumplink-buy )

Screenshot2017103021.27.01However, after listening to all of these practitioners and their own takes on how each one integrated spirituality into a psychotherapy practice, I can also personally say that there were some psychotherapists I would readily hear further in discussions or even in a personal session, and then there were some folks that I wouldn’t want to sit across from at lunch and have to listen to more than a sentence or two. Authenticity or falseness came across loud and clear with these folks in an hour-long session of them talking about what they do and how they do it.

This leads me to one point of my posting here: Not all psychotherapists are equal in spiritual depth and professional therapy skills. Those who were genuinely deep vessels of Spirit and who could relate readily to an audience and to their clients, were amazing and felt wonderfully aware, and, in my opinion, were likely helpful to a client.

Others, …well, …I couldn’t even handle listening to them for more than 10 to 15 minutes without thinking that they must be absolutely terrible with clients and simply taking a client’s money by extending session after session with little intentional progress or problem resolution for the client.  So if you are considering personal therapy, do your research into well-recommended therapists—and I’d look for client recommendations of whether or not this therapist helped the person make better sense of her life.

The second point I would like to make was: I personally liked the folks who talked about a ‘collaborative’ interaction allowing the client and therapist to work together to determine the healing direction for that person, rather than those therapists who acted more rigid and maintained an authoritarian relationship to their client.

A therapist’s job should be to help the client discover how best to help themselves, and many presenters taught clients self-empowerment as a major aspect of their sessions. Some folks actually stated that was their goal—to teach the client how to constructively frame life for themselves for future reference.

The Sounds True producer and moderator, Tami Simon, was great. She asked pertinent follow-up questions, pulled the more spacey folks back to reality and tried to get specifics about what they were explaining and HOW that approach applied to a psychotherapy practice—made each one elaborate and provide anecdotal evidence on how this approach actually helped their clients.p&s summit2.jpg

There were many approaches to these two main subjects of integrating psychotherapy and spirituality with differing techniques pertaining to how each therapist conducts their own practice. Every therapist was unique in some way from the others—and some were quite radical in their approach to helping a client, and even in how they framed the therapy experience for the client.

Overall, I felt it was enlightening to hear so many different takes on what makes a person human and how that humanness is to be explored and assisted in today’s world. To me the layperson, integrating spirituality into psychotherapy is recognition of our wholeness as soul-based incarnations on this often chaotic planet, and I feel this is a very good direction for the future of psychology in general.

(Hint for the future in my blog: I needed to mention the summit itself first, to then post additional subjects pertaining to those individual summit sessions in the near future.)

Advertisements

Generalizing Specialists

One might think I was referring to the medical profession with this title, and in a sense I guess I am because I was reading a bit on the schism between Humanistic Psychology and Transpersonal Psychology when the bells went off in my head.

I’ve always been a fan of Dr. Abraham Maslow—the self-actualizHumanistsation guru of the last century. While reading a summation of his work and early mentors, I recognized certain well-established names in the psychology profession, especially Dr. Carl Rogers as the one of the primary founders of Humanistic Psychology which was considered in some circles as the third branch of 20th century psychology with Freud’s Psychoanalytical approach and Skinner’s Behavioral approach being the other two branches.

That’s all well and good, but again, what’s the application here?

I had just read about Ken Wilber’s critique of the Transpersonal Psychology approach and preference for his own Integral Psychology approach (everybody has an angle), and my mind shifted back to my early college days when I pyramidonce thought I wanted to be a psychologist. All these offshoots of mainstream psychology weren’t even mentioned back then or I might have chosen a different career-path because I’ve always been fascinated by the workings of the human mind and during my early college days thought that course of study would be an amazing odyssey for personal and professional expansion.

So I took a few courses in that designated “PSYCHOLOGY” pursuit as defined by the university that I had attended. And what did I find?

The professors who taught all the courses in that university’s psych department were some of the strangest, most unsociable, unlikable people I had ever met. After a semester immersed in that influence, I changed my major to Art. But head connectedin hindsight, I should have just changed schools if this subject matter had truly interested me. You know—it’s those things you know NOW that you didn’t know THEN….. like: Authority figures aren’t really authorities. They just pretend to be ones.

Back in my early adulthood, I wondered how any student of psychology could possibly be trained by people who themselves were teetering at the very edge of sanity?

Those instructors who seemed to be in charge of judging normalcy in society and the interacting members of such seemed to be themselves standing near the very periphery of normal, interactive social behaviorIF they ever claimed to occupy that location at all. It would seem that during my early years in college the collective WE were all being categorized and judged by society’s ostracized social misfits who had their defensive shields set high and their adolescent vendettas ready to avenge.maze runners

It boggled the idealized mind—at least it boggled mine. Those in the psych department at my university had Ph.Ds in statistics, testing, rats (maze-runners), research documentation, and abnormal behaviors—that means they were primarily Behavioralists.

Where was the Humanistic Psychology or the Transpersonal Psychology back then? Where was even the broader field of Social Psychology at that university? It didn’t exist THERE at the time even though it had been around since the 1950’s; meaning that those who were training budding Psychologists at that university were training students like a Dermatologist might train a Digestive Specialist. You teach what you know, and if you don’t KNOW it—you don’t teach it.

pool in headThe point being for this post (finally) is that even in today’s broader minded and more main-streamed social-psychology movements, practicing psychologists and psychiatrists have specialties. Psychology is NOT a one-size-fits-all profession. Behavioralists are NOT Psychoanalysts are NOT Humanists.

And because all these particular specialties are off-shoots of that larger Psychology field, there is little agreement among the competing branches as to what the tree-trunk looks like, or from which transplanted graft they first emerged, or which branch needs the most sunshine to grow the best humans.

So when people say the state of Mental Health is presently in disarray, it comes as no surprise to me since the main profession can’t even decide what constitutes normalcy in a world of striving individualists and constantly-merging, world-wide cultures.

I’m giving notice to ALL Universities: Please …for all of our sakes,… hire some Humanistic Psychology instructors for the next batch of yearning psychologists, so they aren’t taught by the apoplectic maze-runners that taught during my bachelors degree because a society is only as good as the models that it holds in esteem.

schools of Psych