The November2022 issue of the Society for Shamanic Practitioners Journal published my article,“Using Shamanism in a Mental Health Practice.” I was delighted that so many responded positively; It went to 15,000 people. However, readers asked me: How do I talk about shamanism. I put people into three groups: 1) People I meet socially who just want some information. 2) Potential shamanic clients.3)Clients in my insurance-based psychotherapy practice.
1) People I meet socially - In all three cases, I usually start by telling my story. I say, About 25 years ago I had a serious car accident, and within the year my mom died and then my dad. A friend said: "You’ve had a soul loss." I didn’t know what that meant, but YES. I’d probably had a couple. I went to my first workshop with Dr. Hank Wesselman and had a soul retrieval. I just went to get well. That started my recovery and today I am completely healed. When I tell my story most people relate to it.
I might add: I didn’t know that shamanism was a sacred tradition that is thousands of years old; that several thousand people practice it in the US. I tell my listeners, I wanted to learn more and I have.
When I tell my story most people are open to hear more, because they know I’ve experienced actual results for myself I stop and ask what questions they have. I don’t want to over load people with too much.
2) People who are potential clients. - I start by creating a relationship with them and putting them at ease. I find out a little about them. I then tell them what a session looks like. I go into a meditative state and ask for your highest good and greatest service. I connect you to your spiritual team, then remove any energetic blocks and return soul parts or self parts. It is comforting for a client to know that even though I’ve been a licensed psychotherapist for45 years, I have found that shamanism is faster and more powerful so I practice it exclusively now. I’ve conducted over 4000 sessions for almost 22 years.Because we are looking with spiritual eyes, spirit can often find things that neither the client or me have discussed but are key to recovery and healing. I Iisten to the client’s issues to see if I’m the right practitioner and if shamanism is right for them.
3) People in my psychotherapy practice. - Usually, Ido not say the word, shamanism, to my psychotherapy client, I say something like: I have used very successfully guided visualization that can bring back those parts of you that stepped aside during trauma, like when you had your accident, or fall, or your mom died. I might add: I had this work done over 25 years ago and it made a huge difference in my recovery.
At a first session, I introduce guided visualization and invite my client to create an inner garden, a place in nature that is peaceful and calm. That is the first journey in Hawaiian shamanism, the tradition that I am trained in. I ask clients to see it in color and as much detail as possible.That calms them down and they can see results right away. In later sessions, I expand their garden to include a power animal or spirit helper. I say: Invite a cartoon figure, or animal or religious being to join you. We know that adds power, protection and support.
One student who was being bullied at school reported: “I saw Sponge Bob.” I asked, “What s it about Sponge Bob?” She told me, “He’s all about anti-bullying.”
“No kidding?” Why don’t you imagine Sponge Bob going with you to class?” It worked beautifully to reduce her fear and give her some personal power.
Another client saw WonderWoman. This woman had watched Wonder Woman cartoons as a child and this cartoon figure became her hero. I learned that spirit helpers do not have to be Jesus or an angel or an animal. Cartoon figures can also give power, protection and support.
In conclusion, Whether I am talking about shamanism socially and professionally, I have made some assumptions. I assume people in the US have some of the same limited beliefs that had. I also assume, if they are talking to me, they are open to learning not only about shamanism, but its possible application to their lives. As a retired professor and LMFT, I have credibility so people believe what I have to say. Even if they don’t make an appointment, I have expanded their views about shamanism and represented the work as credible and available.
Do let me know if this answers your questions, and if you have any more questions, feel free to write me. I’d love to hear from you. (firstname.lastname@example.org)