Exploring the Spiritual Path of Therapy
I chose Healing Souls as the name of my therapy practice intentionally. It feels bigger than me and transparently what I believe therapy to offer: healing your soul. When I was looking to name my practice it occurred to me I could call it Ryan Westrum, I could have called it marriage this… or counseling that… However, these names didn’t resonate for me.
It’s my clinical and personal belief that therapy is a spiritual practice. Therapy can be experienced as a ritual that is no different than any other form of looking inward for your higher power. We often look for spirituality at a place of worship or in contemplation within oneself. Your therapeutic approach should be no different.
In this first part of a two-part blog post, I’ll share with you the importance of looking at therapy as a spiritual practice. Exploring questions that you may ask yourself that invite spirituality into therapy; as well as, spiritual beliefs I think we all have in common. Following that up with next week discussing ways to foster a spiritual practice inside or outside of therapy, active therapeutically spiritual practices and ultimately self-care as a spiritual practice no matter the reason you are entering into therapy.
Spirituality is one part of the mind-body-spirit connection. It may be the most foundational part of who we are. Spirituality conveys a personal meaning for each of us. Like a blueprint, our spirit can influence all aspects of ourselves and our life experiences.
The word spirit comes from the Latin root word “spiritus,” which means breath, wind, air, soul or psyche. Metaphysically, it may be referred to as consciousness or personality — that which is transcendent or a reality beyond what is perceptible to the senses.
Healing Souls therapy is the personal quest for understanding answers to ultimate questions about life, about meaning and about relationship with others, the sacred or transcendent (your higher source), which may (or may not) lead to or arise from the growth of religious rituals and the formation of community.
Spirituality can come to the forefront during emotional stress, physical illness, or death.
Clients may be struggling with questions such as:
· Is there something wrong with me?
· Why am I sick?
· What’s the purpose or meaning of my pain/suffering?
· Will I live/die?
· Will you respect my beliefs?
· How can I develop a spiritual practice?
· Is there such thing as surrendering to a higher power?
Finding a therapist supportive of your needs during this time of exploration may be vital to your health and healing. Helping you find the answers within yourself or through a deep therapy practice can be the catalyst.
No matter what your ideas around spirituality, religion or higher power are, we all have the opportunity to see something greater than us. It is without a doubt one of the most important thoughts to carry into therapy. We cannot just will ourselves to be better. There are more similarities than differences between us.
Spiritual beliefs I think we all have in common:
1. Fundamental beliefs
2. Healing and empowerment of love
3. Desiring Acceptance
4. Exploring times of transcendence – surrendering to a higher source
5. Inner wisdom, creativity and love of their unique transpersonal/spiritual self
6. Understanding individual values, priorities, and life commitments
7. Awareness of our oneness, source or dare I say God…
Spirituality in Therapy As part of my initial meeting, I ask my clients about their spiritual beliefs or religious practices. I ask them whether they meditate or pray, and what gives them meaning or purpose in life. I ask them what assists them to relax and feel peace. This begins to unlock a door for me to understand their viewpoints and rituals. It also helps the client see the linking between health and spiritual beliefs and practices.
There are several ways I help my clients get in touch with or enhance their spirituality. They may learn new skills or enhance their meditation, prayer, imagery, intuition, and energy healing. Sometimes this is done by slowing down the session and bringing it back to their source.
It is helpful to release restricting or limiting beliefs so they can connect with joy and peace. I support them to find a sense of connection verses separation, and help them to find meaning and discover lessons of their suffering. I help them find ways to forgive themselves and those who have hurt them in the past, and guide them toward self-love, self-compassion, and self-acceptance. They often feel empowered with a newfound sense of peace, joy, and ways to cope with life’s challenges.
Dr. Ryan Westrum PhD. Is a licensed marriage and family therapist and focuses his practice on integrating clients concerns with spirituality. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or by going to his website healingsoulsllc.com to schedule an appointment.