Spirituality and Psychotherapy

Good therapy is a pebble tossed into a still pond.  After the initial eruption and  crisis, the ripples of change travel ever outward, reaching distant shores.  These waves of energetic influence may move out into the world, touching family, children, friends and neighbors.  They also move inward, expanding deeper and more profoundly into the psyche.  Sometimes they lap against the soul.  We seldom know to what degree and in what depth we may have influenced a life.  Yet we cannot ignore the responsibility that extends beyond our knowing, often into another dimension, the spiritual dimension.

Recently I received a precious gift.  A client, Laura, returned to therapy after a gap of over two years.  She was wanting to explore and invite spirituality into her life

I had seen her initially seven years ago when she was struggling with a dangerous  cancer as a Mom of two young children.  All Laura wanted from life was to stay at home and look after the kids.  As a former scientist, her approach to life was pragmatic and down-to-earth.  She researched her cancer and its treatment like a true professional.

As we worked through the trauma of chemotherapy, failed treatments and loss of hope, Laura found her place of natural  resilience.  The cancer became dormant, life  stabilized and we terminated.

A year later she was back.  Her husband had been having a secret affair during her treatment and now a messy and contentious divorce was imminent.  The cancer had flared up and the tumors were growing fast.  Now we were working deeper with her anger and hurt, the feelings of powerlessness and fear.  With renewed treatment and her increased inner strength and awareness, the tumors abated and we said good-bye.

Laura is again in therapy.  She is still practical and well grounded but now she wants help to renegotiate the purpose and meaning of her life.  The unfolding process of Laura’s development and growing awareness has reached a new dimension.  Her first goals in therapy were to weather the physical and emotional crisis and return to “normal”.  The second bout of therapy had a more encompassing intention.  Laura wanted to understand and transform her reactions of anger and hatred towards her husband.  She knew they were part of the pathology growing in her body.

Recently, after a Buddhist retreat, she was reconnecting appropriately with her husband and clearly expressing her discomfort with aggression and violence to her growing sons.  She wants to become more peaceful and compassionate.  She wants to face reality squarely yet recognize its inner dimensions, its mystery and transcendence.  This is what I believe all therapy, however imperfectly, points towards.  Because all clients are struggling to find their own path, all therapists are in the spirituality business whether they recognize it or not.

There is no therapy without the soul’s involvement.  There is no personal evolution without the breath of the Life Force.