or What is Soul-Spirit Integration?
“Care of the soul observes the paradox whereby a muscled, strong-willed pursuit of change can actually stand in the way of substantive change.” Thomas Moore, Care of the Soul
The word psychotherapy is a compound of the Greek words psykhe (Latin: psyche) meaning “the soul, mind, spirit; breath; the invisible animating principle or entity which occupies and directs the physical body” and therapeia (Latin: therapia) meaning “to attend to, do service, take care of”. In other words, Psychotherapy is Soul Care.
Defining soul or spirit is a difficult undertaking since these words mean so many different things to different people. Here I am offering my own understanding of soul and spirit to make it easier to understand my approach in psychotherapy.
To me, soul is the individual experience of the eternal whole, unique in its expression yet inseparable and indistinguishable from the whole. This whole to me is spirit; unfathomable as a whole, which, I guess, is why we come with a soul.
Our souls are what make me, me and you, you. Soul is how we understand the world. My soul is unique to me although it is made up of exactly the same ‘stuff’ as anyone else’s souls. I liken it to genetics: out of the millions of possible manifestations from my gene pool, I ended up as this unique person. Similarly, out of billions of possible ways of being human and connecting to the world I ended up with this unique way of thinking, feeling, seeing the world, understanding it, and being in it.
Consequently, soulful expression and living an authentic life true does not mean one particular way of being. It means expressing oneself as closely as possible through the unique make-up of one’s own soul! The difficulty often lies in distinguishing between what we see through the lenses of our souls versus what we experience through the filters of our fears and the conditioning we may have received in life.
Spiritual psychotherapy — or spiritual soul-care — is the process of re-aligning ourselves with our lives and to rediscover our soulfulness, or our true way of being in the world. Carl Rogers described this as the constant striving for self-actualization, i.e. to fulfill our potential and achieve the highest level of ‘human-beingness’ we can.
As a client-centred, humanistic therapist, I experience the value of Carl Rogers’ approach daily in my work with clients. Rogers held that the path to self-actualization is as individual and unique as the person walking it. Thus my focus in psychotherapy is on the needs of my clients. No therapeutic tool or approach can be successful if it doesn’t engage the client or doesn’t speak to his or her unique understanding of the world — her or his soul.
As a transpersonal therapist, I also understand that a person’s spiritual experiences and believes, be they based in formal religion, philosophy, or eclectic and personal studies, can not be separated from that person’s experience of the world. In order to accommodate and support my clients’ exploration of their spirituality and the connection between their own life-experience and the life they are living — between their souls and the spiritual whole — I also work with tools and modalities that traditionally are not considered psychotherapeutic.
The of the therapeutic tools I use in my work include…
- unconditional and non-judgemental listening: giving you space to unload and disentangle your thoughts and experiences
- talk therapy: exploring your experiences and life story in conversation
- body-mind connection: helping you to connect to the wisdom of your body
- chakra and energy awareness: helping you to understand and balance the subtle energies that influence your emotions, thought, and sometimes even your actions
- prayer, meditation, and contemplation: to help you find your own preferred and most successful way of communicating with your soul and with spirit
- drawing, art, and colour work: to help you connect to the playful part of yourself, to your creativity, and to experiences that may be hidden in your subconscious
- gestalt oriented and experiential work: movement and placement in physical space can help us understand our inner landscape and personal experiences differently
- voice dialoguing, subpersonalities, and archetype exploration: to create and understand the inner map of experiences and messages that influence your life
- guided imagery and dream work: to give you simple and easy access to the messages of your soul and to help you read your life experiences in a more holistic context.
- and much more
All these tools serve the same end: to help my clients gain deeper mastery of their own inborn power and wisdom, to help them re-connect to their lives as fully as possible. By integrating the different aspects of their lives and beginning to trust their own knowledge of Self, my clients once again create balance and harmony in their own lives.
Soul-Spirit Integration is a wholistic approach to life. It acknowledges the influence personal experiences, emotions, and beliefs have on our lives, relationships, general well-being, and motivation; and it acknowledges the influence of the physical environment on our emotional well-being. Going beyond the important recognition of the body-mind connection, Soul-Spirit Integration also takes into account the wider connection of the human being to universal forces and the energies of the earth and humankind at large.