Animism, Western Psychology, and Clinical Mental Health

As a licensed marriage and family therapist and a doctor of psychology, I’m aware of both the alignment and tension between clinical mental health and traditional approaches to healing that include the ancestors, the natural world, and the unseen.  For those drawn to this subject, I have included the link for my doctoral dissertation that focused on the use of shamanic healing methods in a clinical mental health setting. I interviewed different types of clinicians in the United States (psychologists, MFT’s, LPC’s, LCSW’s) who openly incorporate shamanic healing methods into their clinical practices with the intent to better understand both the clinical and ethical challenges this presents.

I published a chapter Shamanic and Psychotherapeutic Healing of Trauma in the 2013 anthology Spirited Medicine: Shamanism in Contemporary Health Care (available for order through the Society of Shamanic Practitioners). This essay breaks down some of the commonalities and differences in the way that trauma is both conceptualized and treated within each generalized orientation to healing.

In recent years I’ve led clinical trainings on the intersection of traditional healing and mental health for the California Institute of Integral Studies, JFK University, Holos Institute, ITP/Sofia University, Community Health Awareness Council, and Sutter VNA and Hospice Bereavement Program.  I enjoy guiding events for mental health professional who want to increase their cross-cultural competencies and clinical skills with respect to earth-honoring traditions and spiritual healing.  And if you’re a therapist who doesn’t believe you have to leave behind your spiritual calling to work with clients, I’m happy to share ways to blend your gifts into your practice in ways that truly serve your clients. One place to start is our online course, Animist Psychology.

Finally, I’m a big fan of solid mental health services and want to give a big thanks to all spirited folks who choose to still work under their licenses and to serve populations that may not otherwise access holistic mental health services. Your tenacity helps shift the overall field of psychology and mental health in more wholesome and culturally diverse directions.  Keep up the good work!

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