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Spiritual Counseling


Honolulu Counseling Services

The word, “spirituality” may, depending on each individual’s definition, experience and perception of spirit, include a search for one’s authentic self, greater self-knowledge and acceptance, questioning the meaning of life, finding ways to reduce suffering in the world, achieving inner peace/serenity, finding ways of developing harmonious relationships with others, and cultivating a deeper and more meaningful connection with God or a Higher Power.

A spiritual life may also involve ethical or moral beliefs and guidelines for behavior and beliefs around issues such as human relationships, marriage, children, the role of family, citizenship, politics, war, the use and meaning of money, charity, love, altruism, prayer, organized religions, sin, afterlife and what might occur there, sex, material possessions, the existence of saints, heaven, hell, concerned ancestors, and the needs of self vs. the community.

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Spiritual CounselingC. G. Jung was the first major psychological theorist and clinician to specifically integrate what we call spirituality into clinical psychotherapy practice. He viewed the unconscious psyche as the foundation, matrix, and source of the human experience which includes all of the archetypes of the human community such as “mother”, “father”, “child”, “teacher”, “family”, “home”, “nature”, and countless other templates of life we all share. Beyond the mere survival mechanisms built into daily life, the psyche is also the source of other human productions such as art, mythology, poetry, literature, drama and dance, as well as the vast range of human emotions like love, hate, sadness, anger, joy, bliss, dread, fear, attachment, affiliation, belonging, alienation, and loneliness, which we all experience individually, within relationships, and collectively. Of course, we all share in two of the most powerful and basic archetypes of human life, birth and death.

From this perspective, then, before this vast and seemingly endless tapestry of the drama of life and possible human experiences within it, Jung did not necessarily distinguish between those which are so-called “psychological” and those deemed to be “spiritual/religious/sacred” in nature.  The mythological stories of ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome recounted the sagas of the various gods, engaged in the same kinds of endeavors, relationships, struggles, conflicts, and emotional entanglements experienced by humans. In other words, the gods were the “carriers” of our religious sensibilities and of our destinies. We sought the intervention and assistance of whichever god corresponded with or “embodied” our particular situation or need at the time. For example, we might pray to Aphrodite, goddess of love and beauty to intervene in a difficult romantic relationship. Mars, the war god’s help was sought before a military battle. Finding favor with these gods to assure their protection and assistance was sought via various forms of devotion expressed via prayer and rituals in their honor.

C. G. Jung observes that this pattern of seeking to connect with and influence these psychic energies in the form of the gods was a natural manifestation of finding ourselves in a natural world which contained and exerted forces beyond our control. Favorable weather for a safe sea voyage or for the production of sufficient crops to provide food were necessities for the survival of our species. This acknowledgement of the “something more” or “greater” in our world experience also addresses the interface between our inner world of emotions, hopes, aspirations, goals, and meaning and the “outer” life situation we encounter and hope to create on a daily basis with regard to our self-esteem, relationships, work/career, happiness, ability to feel joy, and deep connection to our life’s purpose and meaning.

Jung stated that the face we show to the unconscious is the face it returns to us. Stated in another way, we might say that the inner world and the outer world tend to mirror and influence one another. I remember a woman patient who worked very hard on her recovery from alcohol abuse. In the midst of her active disease, she identified her mother as a major source of conflict and pain in her life. As she got better, she noted, “I can’t believe how much better my mother seems to be getting too and how much more I am able to enjoy and appreciate her.” As she gained or regained (the word, “religion” means “to re-connect”) lost parts of herself and became more whole, she began to experience the world from a more complete and wholistic perspective. The “problems” in her life were no longer only projected “out there.” When she healed herself, “the world” she experienced also improved.

With regard to a “religious” attitude to life, Jung noted:

“Among all my patients in the second half of life—that is to say, over thirty-five –there has not been one whose problem in the last resort was not that of finding a religious outlook on life. It is safe to say that every one of them fell ill because he had lost what the living religions of every age have given their followers, and none of them was really healed who did not regain his religious outlook. This of course has nothing to do with a particular creed or membership of a church.”
As a therapist who provides spiritual counseling, I make a distinction between the teachings of specific organized religions and an individual’s spiritual life. These two things might be seamlessly integrated or they may diverge to varying degrees, possibly having little or nothing in common. It appears that the purpose and goal of the spiritual aspect of our lives is to discover and become more truly and fully who we essentially are and are becoming.  Attitudes, behaviors, and practices that move us in that direction are to be supported and cultivated. Those which inhibit, block, or prevent the fullness, happiness, meaningfulness and depth we seek are to be identified and released.  In the process of Spiritual Counseling, my patients and myself set ourselves to that task. This may be accomplished during the process of Spiritual Counseling via such interventions as the teaching of meditation techniques, prayer, opening up to what the soul is trying to say through emotions, life events/situations, and dreams, and Sandplay Therapy.

Honolulu Spiritual Counseling

Sometimes, Spiritual Counseling begins with an inventory of a patient’s current beliefs about God, religious affiliation, history of spiritual observance within family of origin,  possible conflicts or mismatches between what one has been taught to be “right” or “wrong” and what one actually thinks or believes. Often, a life event has laid bare or created a spiritual crisis in the form of confusion, anger, fear, anxiety, or guilt. My aim is to provide a safe, welcoming, respectful, non-judgmental, space wherein my patient can gradually, and at his or her own comfort level, begin to look at and sort out the memories, thoughts, images, messages, and emotions which may have become overwhelming.

Being a believer, myself, in a Higher Power and of the working of that unseen force in my own life and its effects/results, I feel deeply honored to provide spiritual counseling in Honolulu, HI and accompany my patients on their individual and unique spiritual journeys. My goal is to support and allow, given the time, space, and opportunity, my patient’s natural healing process to lead him or her to a broader and deeper awareness, knowledge, and understanding of the journey they have experienced accompanied by a greater love and appreciation of their story and of themselves.

Are you beginning your spiritual journey and looking for spiritual counseling? At East West Therapy Hawaii, we are here to help you on your journey to discovery. Contact us today for more information on our areas of service.