A Nature, Place-Based Worldview:

"Shamanic Psychotherapy?"

I use the language "shamanic" to point to a older worldview that I believe can still support greater overall health.

To me, we are in a great predicament with the modern life of our western culture. It is often a culture of competing, consuming, proving, and taking; yet also with the gifts of creativity, imagination, and wonder. Somehow, it has become common place to feel alone, alienated, ashamed, traumatized, addicted. It has become common to see environmental disaster and pollution and despair.

Is there a set of values that could leave us feeling connected, good enough, whole? Is there a method?

I grew up in a very white protestant community with core values around community, church, school, work. And luckily, music and art and play and creativity and nature. The things that lingered in the back ground and caught my interest were dreams, ghost stories, occasional psychic events, and uncanny stories from generations past. These pointed the way for my imagination and intuition.

I set out to study healing in the language that I knew: psychology, Christianity, theology. After obtaining a doctorate in psychology and beginning private practice, I realized that there was still A WHOLE LOT MORE to learn about how people are suffering and how they can feel better. Living in Humboldt, I started to look around see that there are an amazing amount and variety of healing approaches - with practitioners that follow healing traditions from around the world.

When I went to my first class to learn shamanic journeying, I had no idea what that involved. But it turned something on in me that I have been exploring ever since.

I have found that, whatever the language, there is something profound that happens when our inner imagination opens up in landscape, animals, angels, earth spirits, ancestors, stars, planets, moving energy, and more. We can learn to direct this inner experience to help explore what needs healing and how to bring it about. This is all with the beat of a drum. A rattle. I have found that people call this experience all kinds of things: visualization (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy), active imagination (Jungian work), resource tapping (EMDR), or even holotropic breathwork (Transpersonal psychology), as examples. These experiences each have differing levels of preparation, duration, and intensity. And research is showing more and more the different aspects of brain activity involved in these different kinds of experiences.

So why shamanism? I understand that using this language approaches sacred indigenous cultural beliefs and traditions from peoples all over the planet. For me, indigenous roots go back to my Celtic Druid ancestors. I believe in the earth (to quote Michal Franti). I believe there is much much more to us than we are ever shown in a materialistic consumeristic society. I believe when we combine our imagination/intuition and our rational thinking mind and our body awareness, we can KNOW and REMEMBER that there is more to us as humans and that we are deeply connected to all life.... the source of life that moves through everything. I believe that we need community, elders, ritual, music, rhythm, and dance to help us REMEMBER that wholeness.

I believe that we can REMEMBER values that make us feel human again. The kind of values that make it possible to be "native to our place" again (to use the language of Robin Kimmerer in her book, Braiding Sweetgrass). The kind of values like gratitude, reverence, kinship, connection, reciprocity, permission. These are the values that I bring. And if we can learn again together, then what is possible? Maybe we can listen and hear each other in community, and maybe we will love what we hear.