Psychotherapy and Alternative Religion

As a psychotherapist, it is important that we are tolerant of all religions and ethnicities. However, it is also difficult to discuss an alternative religion such as the occult or even topics such as astrology or ghosts with a therapist who has good intentions but really believes you are delusional. Recently, this discussion has come up in my psychology group that I belong to online. Therapists were talking about the horror stories clients were sharing about being of a unique mindset in a world that appears to be tolerant of only one religion.

As an alternative thinking psychotherapist, it is not important that I share my beliefs with my clients as this is not appropriate. You, the client, are the person I am there to listen to and serve. What I will do though is make statements so that the client is aware that I am open to and can relate on some level to what they are saying in a discussion about religion. On my website, I do discuss the fact that I have studied world religions and that I am open to working with the Pagan/Wiccan community as well as those who are spiritual/not religious, metaphysical and such. This opens the doors to folks of this persuasion and I believe it goes without saying.

I enjoy discussing religion in therapy because this is a very relevant topic to our psyche. A client should be free to discuss their feelings as this has a bearing on their lifestyle, their community and the family that they are often hiding from. Or as some will say “in the broom closet.” More so here in Ohio, then when I worked with clients in California. If you can’t say it in therapy safely, where can you (with exception of your community). Someone who is new in the transition of spirituality from say Christianity to Wiccan for example, will be going through a spiritual confusion of sorts. Of course that actual education or guidance toward spiritual growth would best come from a High Priestess in this faith, not a psychotherapist. My role is to discuss and listen to how religion is played out in your family and in your household and the stressors related to it. To allow the person to be heard and feel validated in their process.

Transpersonal therapy is a way of bringing spirituality into the room. In a true holistic setting an appreciation of culture, sexuality and spirituality are very important to the process of healing. While a person may say they are open minded, we all have our biases of one thing or another – psychotherapists are human too. Someone who truly has an appreciation of the other world is better to know the difference between someone who is delusional and someone who has had experiences. Spirituality is a tough topic to go down. It can even be difficult in your own community if you feel that you are like them but feel different, as with a solitary practitioner.

When you choose a psychotherapist, think of it like when you are choosing someone who will read your chart or do a Tarot reading. Trust your instincts, research their background and have a chat with them over the phone. If you feel guided to having a discussion with that professional than that is the direction you should go in. And, like with anything, just because the person has that particular background, does not mean they are right for you. Take this step consciously as psychotherapy, like any other path toward your growth, is very sacred and individual.

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