The most common misapprehensions clients have about where they are in their psycho-spiritual development are:
- Mistaking the psychological for the spiritual
- Invalidating the spiritual from a linear understanding of the three stages
- The delusion of forgiving parents, ex-partners, and “enemies”
- Seeing sensitivity, empathy, and intuition as failings or weaknesses, because they were criticized in childhood
- The belief that you should complete personal therapy before becoming a therapist
- The belief that you have done loads of therapy and got nowhere
Let’s look at these six common misconceptions one-by-one, remembering that we speak here as much about ourselves as about others, such as our clients or friends or relatives who come to us in need of informal counseling. In Part 1 of this series we looked at mistaking the psychological for the spiritual. In Part 2 we examined invalidating the spiritual from a linear understanding of the three stages of awakening. In Part 3 we explored the delusion of forgiving parents, ex-partners, and enemies; and we looked at seeing sensitivity, empathy, and intuition as failings or weaknesses because they were criticized in childhood. In Part 4, the final Part of this series, we look at two beliefs. First, the belief that you should complete personal therapy before becoming a therapist. Second, the belief that you have done loads of therapy and got nowhere.
The Belief that you should Complete Personal Therapy before becoming a Therapist
The next common misapprehension is the belief that you should complete personal therapy before becoming a therapist. Without making light of this let me start by saying that if we followed this dictum there would be far fewer therapists in the world today! And that may not be a bad thing in itself of course. While seemingly desirable it is as much true that in our faults and flaws we may be effective therapists. In other words your personal attainment in therapy is not necessarily a measure of your worth and effectiveness as a therapist.
Really this misapprehension is similar to the idea that you may only truly resonate with another when you have experienced what they are going through. Aside from the impossibility of this it is in any case unnecessary. What I have found over the years is that alongside my bewilderment that men and women from diverse backgrounds with very different experiences to my own should seek me out at all, is the solid fact that resonating, empathizing and compassion rely less on content than on depth. Therefore, so long as you have deepened in your response to your life on all levels and are in the committed process of deepening still further you will experience a kinship with a fellow human being that transcends their or your actual experience.
Remain open without prejudice or judgment. Feel with the other person and allow them to affect you. Be courageous and accepting, curious and emotionally engaged. Then whether or not you have completed your personal therapy or measured up to any other internal gauge of growth and development is irrelevant.
The Belief that you have done Loads of Therapy and got Nowhere
The last of our common misapprehensions about psycho-spiritual development is the belief that you have done loads of therapy and got nowhere.
We have all perhaps had the experience of being jaded in therapy. We get exhausted, impatient, even despairing. We wonder what it has all been about and what use it is or how it really practically can help us in our life. Very often such times precede breakthrough, though not always. However true it may be that therapy is as long as a piece of string and unable to free us from the attachments we ourselves are holding onto, we may still doubt that ultimately it can and will liberate us from the patterns of our personality.
Now this can happen at any time but it is nowhere near as entrenched and persuasive as when we have been in therapy for a substantial length of time, perhaps many years.
For example, a particularly acute time to have doubts concerning therapy and its results is when we meet a major threshold in life and are unequipped and unprepared for the process. One obvious such threshold is the fifties. Traditionally and contemporarily the spiritual period of life our full participation in the spiritual awakening the fifties holds is prohibited by remedial psychological holdings. If you find yourself working with a client in this predicament and if they have authentic spiritual leanings focus the work on clearing the historical material once and for all to pave the way for the spiritual opportunities that are otherwise denied to the client.
At such a threshold and even with years of therapy behind you, you must practice humility and resilience. Humility informs you that there is yet more work for you to do. Resilience provides you with the means to form a powerful resolve to commit yourself to succeeding in your personal liberation.
Richard Harvey is a psycho-spiritual psychotherapist, spiritual teacher, and author. He is the founder of The Center for Human Awakening and has developed a form of depth-psychotherapy called Sacred Attention Therapy (SAT) that proposes a 3-stage model of human awakening. Richard can be reached at [email protected]
Richard Harvey is a psycho-spiritual psychotherapist, spiritual teacher, and author. He is the founder of The Center for Human Awakening and has developed a form of depth-psychotherapy called Sacred Attention Therapy (SAT) that proposes a 3-stage model of human awakening. Richard can be reached at [...]