Using a Spiritual Teacher as a Therapist

alpine, house,
We've got a really important topic to talk about today. It's all about trying to use a spiritual teacher as a therapist.

Before I go further, I want to talk a little about healing. There's a lot of healing that goes on on the path to spiritual freedom. A certain type of healing arises as we surrender our ego. As we surrender our ego, a lot of the wounds we inflict on ourselves cease. 

This is a profound thing to understand. 

We really see how much our ego creates our suffering. A person says five words, and the ego says you are sad. You are told to be sad so fast that you don't even realize there is a choice.

But there is, and when we no longer choose to be sad just because someone says five words, we are no longer wounding ourselves. We are no longer suffering.

In freedom, we realize we have immense power in our choices, and we start the process of changing these choices, which begins with surrender.

However, a lot of people aren't ready for this path. There are wounds that do need to be addressed in a traditional therapeutic setting, not with a spiritual teacher.


Accepting the Reality of Where You Are

I know that a lot of Western Society has stigmatized needing therapy. There is this other perception that if you are in therapy, then you need prescription medicine. There is yet another perception that a therapist will force you to use prescription medicine.

There are probably a lot more perceptions than those 3, but those 3 lead people to concluding that they don't want anything to do with a therapist. If a person also happens to have a bad experience with a therapist, then they may never go back.

This rejection of a healing modality is problematic. Cutting ourselves off from solutions including prescription medication makes no sense. Therapists and proper medication both have their places in a person's healing and spiritual journey. Deciding that a spiritual teacher is better at providing healing/therapy leads to additional problems.

One of those problems is that spiritual teachers aren't all trained to handle trauma. Additionally, for my part, it's just not my focus. If I am working with someone, I'll see them 2 hours in a month. That's not usually enough for support for someone healing trauma. Obviously, other healers and teachers may meet with someone more, and some of them do have trauma-informed techniques.

But therapy is often an important step, and it is extremely helpful even when there isn't a trauma. There are all kinds of issues that people have, not just trauma, and traditional therapy is often critical in correctly addressing them.


The Spiritual Teacher Bypass

However, I've learned that many people are trying to do a spiritual bypass--that by finding a spiritual teacher, they are not looking to resolve their issues. They are looking for a way around them.

The Spiritual Bypass: The Illusion of Avoiding Your Difficulties


This creates all kinds of problems because surrender allows for all kinds of things to come up. So the issues that aren't resolved still come up, but now there is little buy-in by the person to deal with them. Essentially, they don't really want to address the issue, or perhaps they thought they could address other issues and skirt the real ones. 

And what's worse, some people decide that their issues are signs of a spiritual awakening!

What Is a Spiritual Awakening?


The mental gymnastics people do to deny their reality is truly sad.

Ultimately, you have to accept where you are. If you have had trauma(s), mental health issues, or general mental or emotional issues that need support, you need to get support specifically aimed for it.


A Sea of False Claims

But things are even worse because there are healing and spiritual practitioners claiming that a whole host of things can alleviate someone's issues without it being difficult. I can't say that such a thing is impossible. However, if something sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.

Furthermore,many people in need of healing are already in a delicate place. Some substances, techniques, and so forth can cause additional stress because of how the person processes information. For those with trauma, they're often stuck in a state of hyper-vigilance, which predisposes them to seeing threats even when there is no threat at all. So I want to caution all of you about all of these "latest, greatest, fastest, and easiest" ways of addressing trauma. They can really imbalance and freak someone out if they're not able to process and integrate intense techniques.

7 Signs You're a Wounded Healer


Finding Your Therapist

Finally, you may not find a great therapist on the first search. You may need to do more to find one that can help you. I encourage you to persevere. Therapists are really important, and they are trained to help you deal with a wide variety of traumas, mental health issues, mental and emotional concerns, and more. 

Even if you haven't had any big trauma, you probably could benefit from talking through other lower level concerns. Having an objective outside perspective is worth its weight in gold.

As you go through your work with a therapist, you'll likely discover a lot of things about yourself, and in so doing, you can begin to heal and let go of some attachments along the way. The end result is about having a healthy mind and heart, which are precisely the things you need if you truly want spiritual freedom. At which point and probably when you no longer feel like you need one, this may now be the time to find a spiritual teacher.

How to Choose the Right Healer

Building a Mind Strong Enough for Awakening

Comments

  1. I'm so glad you shared this post, so so important! I've been personally starting to wonder though if this whole spiritual awakening business is not just all rooted in trauma. I think there is definitely trauma and then there is trauma and some cases absolutely require specialist, evidence-based approaches for recovery to be achieved. But ultimately I'm starting to feel that our ego is really just layers of self-protection against things that we felt/interpreted as being traumatic to us, most of which was picked up in childhood. And we only fear challenging social norms, because of rejection and abandonment wounds... which are also forms of trauma. I'm coming to see that spiritual awakening is in essence healing from trauma, just with a fancier name. As you say when we see it otherwise it just tends towards bypassing. How can we be present and at peace and connected to spiritual experiences when our nervous systems are stuck in fight/flight mode. Collectively we are a traumatised species and thankfully the age has arrived to collectively heal and learn how to treat each other with more love and kindness so we don't continue these patterns of trauma for countless future generations to come as well. xo

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  2. Hi Jim, thanks a lot for this post and it came just in time! I was about to decline an offer for a first psychotherapeutic session. I thought I don't need it. My ego thought I will get through everything with the spiritual tools I collected ... I'm crying right now. For months, I fooled myself with yet another identification. Thank you!

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    1. You're welcome. I'm glad that you're going to get the support you truly need.

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