What is psycho-spiritual counselling? by Collette Barnard
Psycho-Spiritual Counselling takes the Soul, rather than the Mind, as its starting point of balance. It has an expanded view of life, recognising that the world is a complex mystery and it takes into account belief systems, universal & personal energy systems, intuitive psychic realities, karmic interplay, subconscious and superconscious states of awareness, metaphysical experiences, spiritual theology, spiritual presence and higher-self cosmic connections.
Spiritual Counselling sees that life is innately personal and individuals want to build their own unique, flowing relationship with it, organically and without force. With the Soul being the starting point individuals come from the heart, whilst not forgetting their head, and from this heart space they care for the sacred interdependence of all life. Compassion for self and compassion for others is a core concept for their personal and collective growth. As Spiritual Counselling is holistic there is no separation, no duality between personal or collective responses and reaction, all is intrinsically linked. There is awareness that life experiences become the greatest tool, with the integration of personal pains and personal journey. The aim is for clients to express themselves and their world with intimate wisdom, spiritual awareness and personal authenticity; using integrity and wise use of their spiritual gifts, skills and knowledge.
Spiritual counsellors need a cross cultural awareness and an understanding around spiritual emergency and other issues of spirituality. They recognise, and are committed to, a spiritual journey in their own lives, and the lives of others. By focusing on their core inner connection, creating an open heart connection and a mindfulness state, they create a holding and sacred space for the personal unfoldment of their clients.
In Spiritual Counselling the emphasis is on wholeness, dealing with the whole person, and assisting the client in inner balance and integration of all the dimensions of Self. It is experiential and focuses on the client’s individual experiences and reality, so the counsellor respecting them as unique assumes that the client’s reality is different from their own. As each client is seen as an individual the sessions are non-prescriptive and individually tailored. The counsellor is thus active and creative, responding to the immediate issues brought by the client. The assumption is that human beings are innately motivated towards achieving their highest potential of awareness and fulfilment; the counsellor’s role is to support this and trust the client’s process.
The spiritual journey can be blissful and awakening, but also it can be arduous, frightening and lonely. Anyone can have a spiritual experience, or peak experience, but holistic self-realisation is a different matter. Spiritual development best occurs at the point when the Ego identity is strong enough to take a little disorientation. One’s understanding and meaning of one’s lives depend on the presence of Ego. If the Ego is not strong and does not hold the person in a healthy reality; the spiritual opening then results in fragmentation and crises. This altered State of Consciousness can be catastrophic to the Ego if the individual contacts the lower level of consciousness rather than the higher level of consciousness. A healthy Ego arises from the healing and integration of past traumas and of Self-Realisation/ Self-Awareness.
Spiritual counselling recognises that the split between psychotherapy and spirituality in the West is a cultural, not a natural, phenomenon. It takes as its roots Transpersonal Psychology, Spiritual Psychology, Humanistic Psychology, Psychosynthesis, and Person-Centred Counselling.
Having awareness of a spiritual identity; – we are all more than our personalities and our problems.
Faith in Self; – that we have within us the wisdom to make the right choices.
Faith in potential; – that every situation has a potential for growth.
Faith in the journey; – that our lives have meaning.
Faith in Spirit; – that we are truly Spiritual Beings.