Conversations about spirituality have been occurring more and more in my therapeutic meetings with people. These conversations may be initiated by the other person as they are taking about how their faith, their relationship with God or their community affects their lives. But quite often people are asking “big” questions. Like: “Why would someone do that?”, “Why is this happening to me? “, and “What is the point of anything?” And these questions, prompt me to initiate spiritual conversations.
I am interested in knowing what a person wonders or understands about why we are all here. People seem to crave and immediately respond to these conversations. Because they provide a holistic view into what is going on for them. It is not a surprise that many therapists turn to other spiritual and non verbal healing practices. Such as healing with the earth elements, past life regression therapy and energy healing. I find myself intrigued by these practices as well. Perhaps a more holistic approach can reach into what people need reaching into, especially when recovery from trauma.
Spirituality has historically been a way for humans to understand the wonder as well as the suffering of our world. Their own spiritual and cultural ideas set a backdrop for how people make meaning out of events in their lives. So, I feel it is important to include this context in conversations. Due to my interest in responding to people who experienced trauma, (be it in their families, communities, or at war) I have become more and more interested in the interface between meanings of our experiences and spirituality. These interests have lead me into much contemplation and research.
For example, I listened to an interesting podcast on shrink radio, http://www.shrinkrapradio.com/?s=109&searchsubmit=Find a series of podcast interviews by psychologist David Van Nuys, PhD. In number 109, David interviews Edward Tick, a psychiatrist whose work with war veterans over the last 40 years led him to explore cultural practices around the world in helping warriors recover from the trauma of battle. Dr. Tick uses indigenous healing practices in his work, yet remains mainstream enough to present a keynote at a NYS National Association of Social Workers symposium. Indeed the world of mental health is changing. Another example of this change to spiritual psychology is Dr. Brian Weiss. He is a psychiatrist who is the Chairman Emeritus of Psychiatry at the Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami and a world renowned past life regression therapist.
People’s responses to spiritual conversations whose accounts I read from Dr. Weiss and Dr. Tick as well as those in my own office, give me hope that exploring spirituality can offer them new territories of living than they had access to previously. In these conversations people may have opportunity to understand pain and see avenues of hope and connection with what is most precious to them in their lives. This can be very powerful. I hope to soon write more about some of these conversations.