SOUL CENTRED PSYCHOTHERAPY
Soul Centred Psychotherapy focuses on relationship, mindfulness, attention, lived experience, meaning, honouring, enchantment, and the sacred. It is this focus that differentiates Soul Centred work from other approaches that use similar therapeutic techniques. A brief description of these areas can help define the essence of Soul Centred Psychotherapy.
Relationship in Soul Centred Psychotherapy is understood as a living thing, a 'third body' that forms between two people. Soul Centred Psychotherapy also attends to our relationship with ourselves--working to develop a more vital and aware relationship between our everyday sense of self and the other layers of consciousness that we usually call the unconscious. By attending to this inner relationship, we gain insight into the internal dynamics that determine our thoughts, moods and behaviours.
The therapy process itself also involves a relationship between therapist and client. This therapeutic relationship may involve the therapist as guide, as teacher, as support person, as healer, as fellow traveller.
Mindfulness is a state of being fully present in the moment with attention available for whatever is happening. Soul Centred Psychotherapists use mindfulness practices to develop their capacity for therapeutic attention, so they can be fully present in the therapy process. Mindfulness is also used as a healing practice in the therapeutic work.
Embodied experience is authentic, connected, and immediate. Soul Centred Psychotherapy works to evoke authentic, embodied experience to support connections between mind and body, thoughts and feelings, memories and current life events. It is the difference between talking about something that happened yesterday and stepping back inside the experience with all the sights, sounds, smells, body feelings, emotions etc.
Our responses to life situations, both positive and negative, are the stuff of soul, bringing colour, life and passion to our journey. In Soul Centred Psychotherapy, we allow time to develop relationship with whatever is happening, to attend fully to inner experience, and to work respectfully and systematically for change.
Soul Centred Psychotherapists use techniques from energy psychology to support the processing of painful memories and past traumatic experiences. This ensures that the process is not overwhelming, and that change and healing occur appropriately for each person.
The energetic or relational field is the invisible web of connection that surrounds each engagement in our lives. This is the way we can sense when someone is upset or when someone is bursting with excitement. This is how we exist as part of the world soul (anima mundi), an interactive web or field connecting us to ourselves and each other.
Soul Centred Psychotherapists ask themselves, 'What am I noticing right now?' They ask others, 'What are you noticing right now?' These questions invite a deep engagement with the relational field by attending to exactly what is arising in the moment.
For a Soul Centred Psychotherapist, being fully present in a therapy session involves being open to whatever is happening. This is very different from the more traditional therapy situation where there is an arbitrary separation between the therapist and client, and the therapist is the 'expert'.
Soul Centred Psychotherapy recognises that it is primarily the human relationship and the relational field between the two people within which the work occurs.
Meaning in Soul Centred Psychotherapy involves a sense of value and importance that is subjective rather than objective or collective. The central question is 'What does this mean to you?' so that rather than ideas of 'wrongdoing' and 'rightdoing' we are working with each person's deepest value and meaning. This is closely related to the idea of honouring whatever emerges in a therapy session. This can take the form of drawing or painting an image, sculpting a form in clay, writing in a journal, moving to music etc. This creative expression of the inner material that comes into awareness (as images, symbols, memories, sensations, sounds etc.) is a way of valuing its importance and developing ongoing relationship with soul.
'Enchantment is a spell that comes over us, an aura of fantasy and emotion that can settle on the heart' (Thomas Moore: The Reenchantment of Everyday Life). This involves a sense of mystery in which we find value, love, and union with the world around us by attending to the rhythms and cycles of nature, the moon, the seasons, and our own mindbody systems.
The idea of the sacred follows from meaning, honouring, and enchantment. This is similar to Jung's idea of the Self as the central organising principle of the psyche, as well as the idea of the anima mundi or world soul.
In Soul Centred Psychotherapy some of the great myths that have informed humanity are studied and brought present in the form of story, images, and enactment. This can take the form of rituals that develop spontaneously in a session or are planned over several sessions.
One task involves writing a personal myth in the tradition of the folk or fairytale. This allows people to develop new beliefs, attitudes, and response patterns to replace the old ones that have shaped their experience of themselves and the world.
Therapy is, of course, a ritual in itself: visiting a therapist regularly over a period of time, learning to attend to one's inner life, taking time for serious introspection and personal work, and forming new habits of conscious attentiveness.
Soul Centred psychotherapy works to develop a more conscious, manageable and creative relationship with the internal processes that have blocked people's most intense, profound, and honest relation to life. It also works to develop a rich appreciation of the soul's reality and to nurture its depth and genius.
The philosophy of Soul Centred Psychotherapy is, therefore, based on attending to the experience of soul. Our culture has traditionally valued mind and spirit, as in science and organised religion, and neglected soul, as in the embodied experience of being human.
Soul Centred Psychotherapy attends to the human experience through the everyday stuff of life: our thoughts, emotions, body sensations and symptoms, and the relationships we have with others and the world. Value, meaning, and healing emerge from within each person's unique process of inner work rather than from any external ideal of health, wealth, or happiness. In this sense, therapy is not about fixing something that is broken, but about attending to the rich language of soul as it manifests in our day to day lives.
As well as honouring the essence of soul work, Soul Centred Psychotherapists are committed to understanding the human experience as fully as possible. The leading edge of research in related fields such as energy psychology and mindbody healing is continually studied and incorporated into the work.