Q: You call yourself a Spiritual Counselor. Why not “Spiritual Director”?
A: Sometimes words are my passion and my problem. The beauty, expansiveness, and the limitations of human sounds and languages is always a challenge. We know of “the war of words” flung too easily about. We know of the loving cooing sounds from a caring person for a little baby. And yet, wars begin with words. Sometimes mistranslations result in tragedy and death. So, I struggle with the meanings of words, their definitions. The term spiritual director is a good term. I have served as “spiritual director” for a number of clients over the years, clients who needed to have the use of that term for their continuing professional and personal growth and advancement. I like the term, sort of. I would again serve as someone’s “spiritual director” if they needed me to do so. Yet, for me, the term is too “director-ish.” It, for me, implies a kind of knowing what the other needs, to “direct” the other in a certain direction. I cannot do that, truly. Instead, I can walk with you. Spiritual Counselor is my next best choice of words to say what I do, and how I am being with another who is asking to be a client. And, you know, of course, it is imperfect, too. I like how the term “spiritual counselor”, for me, invites a kind of consultative dialogue of souls to take place. In the explanations of Projective DreamWork on this site, I have sought to show how everything–everything!–we say, do, know, experience, teach, are taught, emerges out of our deep instinct of projection.
Projection is our natural, impossible-not-to-do instinct. I believe the use of the term “spiritual counselor” allows more openness and integrity to exist between client and me, that it reduces the risks of “superiority” between the client and me. Ahh, though, the best term that I love and invented (-: years ago is “Spiritual Reflection”. These beautiful words say, for me, that I am a mirror for the one with whom I am honored to work (Yes, a broken, cracked, cool, earnest, happy, informed, sad, competent, accurate, compassionate mirror). I love the gentle neutrality the term offers. I love the imaginative meanings of the words, what the term evokes in me, and, sometimes others.
One time, many years ago, I was doing a dreaded, anxiety-producing job of car shopping. I was in my early years of my doctoral program then and starting my private practice. I had these cool, new business cards printed up. I was proud of them! I think they said something like Psychotherapy and Spiritual Reflection. So, as I was visiting with the car salesman, we exchanged cards. He looked at my very cool, artsy card, and said, “Wow! Heaavvey!” and exuded a cool, playful accepting laugh and said something like, “What the hell is that?” What could I say? I do not remember, except, I laughed, too, nervously, self-consciously, and freely. It is hard to explain, what I do. It is probably weird to some. However, I love that term which I cannot use in our “everyday world.” I can live with that, sorta.
Q: Is what you offer clinical psychotherapy? Will you be using clinical diagnosis in our work together? A: What I am offering is not clinical psychotherapy. I will not be your clinical therapist. I will not be making a clinical mental health diagnosis of you. I am, as my vita describes, licensed in three states in the U.S. as a Marriage and Family Therapist. However, my practice here is as a Spiritual Counselor and DreamWorker. I am an ordained minister, deeply trained and experienced in matters of spiritual healing, soul work and, dream work.
Q: What do you mean when you use the word “spiritual”? A: What is it that gives us meaning, purpose, value in our living? How do we use our energy as we go about our life. One time, in the lovely story of Jesus, someone challenged him about where he was and what he was doing, maybe implying he was wasting his time, and Jesus, in a healthy huff, said, “Why are you looking for me? Don’t you know, I must be about my father’s business?” Jesus, like you and me, must be about our business of living, that which gives us meaning, gives wholeness and healing to ourselves and others? Sometimes, over the years, as I have been asked to lead some form of “spiritual counseling groups,” we would have honest souls who would say, “I am not religious.” Or some would say, “I am atheist, or agnostic or Buddhist or Pagan, or Wiccan, or liberal Christian or fundamentalist, or conservative Christian,” or something…Always I would say, “Welcome. We are here to explore that which gives us value, meaning, and purpose in our lives, and we are here to explore that which we create to give value, meaning and purpose for others, and in the life of the world.”
To me, spirituality is always about values, meanings, purposes. How we use our energy for living, and for dying. Spirituality is what gives us energy to live, and how we create energy to live–fully, richly, compassionately, authentically, and with integrity. It is here where we may choose healthy self-sacrifice, seek wholeness and healing for ourselves, and others.
Q: What about your belief – or not – in God? It seems weird that you are an ordained minister, a spiritually-led person, with degrees in religion, theology, psychotherapy, spiritual psychology and yet you call yourself an “atheist-agnostic-believer-dreamer.” A: As you’ll see on my About page, I am cautious about using “god terms.” I have been wounded by conservative and fundamentalist definitions of God/dess, especially within my versions and experiences of Christianity. I have been wounded by various ideologies of spirituality and religion. I have seen how “everything has a reason,” whether using a Christian, Buddhist, Islamic, New Agey, or some other belief system or foundation is often simplistic, guilt-inducing, shallow, and does not, really answer the questions of life, the pain of life.
Read more about my understanding of god and the concept of Process Theology/Philosophy on my page about Spiritual Counseling. What if you have beliefs that are different than what I am explaining? I have, in my over three decades of practice, worked with scores of persons who have very different beliefs, or none at all. Please know this, I have room to be with you, fully. I do not need to impose my belief system upon you. I would never, ever do that. I know that life is painful, awful sometimes, and full of mystery and beauty and love. Together will work toward deep healing.
Q: Where are you based? I’m used to seeing a counselor in person. Can these sessions be effective even if we’re not sitting down together, face-to-face? My geographic home is in western Nebraska. However, I also spend lots of time in New York state, and in other locations. I have had years of counseling experience with clients in rural areas and, by necessity, due to distance and time, we would often consult by phone, video and online. Face-to-face is effective, and phone, video and online is effective too. Generally, I experience little difference in effectiveness between modes of communication. I invite you to experiment. This is, after all, about your wholeness and healing and you must feel our work is effective, no matter the mode.
Q: I feel can never remember my dreams. Is it worth it for me to talk to a DreamWorker about my inner life if I can’t access my dreams? Do you have any tips? I love this comment and question because this is such a common concern! Join humanity on this one! We all have times we do not recall our dreams. Some people say they never do! I know that, due to strains of life, medical issues, and other factors, many report dream recall is limited or nonexistent. Read this article for some tips to remember your dreams. Plus, “old” dreams from a long time ago are fine to explore and, because we still remember them, means that they are still speaking to us. In DreamWork groups and retreats, we can “borrow” the dream from the original dreamer, make it our own, and, because of our natural instinct of projection, we DO experience these dreams as ours. Please read more of my DreamWork articles here. I have had countless people tell me that once we start to explore dreams, more dreams come! Honoring that part of us that dreams unlocks more and more dreams to remember. Try it!
Q: I already see a therapist or other healers. Do you have a policy about your clients seeing other professionals? A: Our work together is not clinical psychotherapy. I am supportive of you in therapy or in another form of healing relationship. Health and integrity may require us to inform your other healer of our work together, especially if you are in psychotherapy. All of your work is all about your healing and getting better for your callings. I encourage us all to work together for you! You are so worth these journeys! And, our world needs you to be the best healer possible.
Q: How many sessions do most clients schedule? As you may surmise, DreamWork and Spiritual Counseling sessions can be single sessions or longer, depending on your needs. As you explore my services, you will see that I offer 1-month intensive packages for those times in our lives when we are going through major and rapid transitions in life. Also, I offer 3-month packages for more in-depth healing and explorations for the longer haul of life. I am comfortable with short-term or long-term consultation. It is up to you and what you need to be the best healer possible, to honor your deepest callings. See my packages page for details.