Sacred Psychology: what it is and why we need it!
Last year I began using a term I felt best explained the work I do with clients – sacred psychology.
As a licensed therapist who is also a spiritual empowerment coach and soul mentor for non-conformists, I needed to be able to distinguish MY process from more standard “counseling, coaching, and other therapies.”
Since it isn’t a commonly used term, I thought it might be helpful to describe what I mean by it. If you Google the phrase however, you will see other various interpretations and I do not attempt to speak for us all, only my own practice and to provide some common uses.
WHAT IS SACRED PSYCHOLOGY?
Put simply, it’s a modality which goes beyond traditional psychological frameworks to a focus on the intersectionality across all levels of being – mind, body, spirit, and soul – and the subtle yet powerful layers in-between.
As one wisdom teaching so poignantly explains:
Without spirituality, psychology cannot really free us or lead us to the deepest truths about ourselves, and without psychology, spirituality can lead to grandiosity, delusion, and an attempt to escape from reality.”
… Psychology without spirituality is arid and ultimately meaningless, while spirituality without grounding in psychological work leads to vanity and illusions.
We need BOTH.
In fact, if I may be so bold, I actually don’t believe you can even have one without the other.
WHY INCORPORATE THE SACRED?
Research has shown that spiritual forms of support, meaning making and coping predict health and well-being beyond non-spiritual versions. Additionally, studies suggest the majority of clients seeking therapy not only believe that it is appropriate to discuss religious or spiritual concerns with their clinician, but actually prefer to!
On the flip side, we know that when things go awry, spirituality goes from being the greatest source of support to a painful wound and contributor to all kinds of distress and dysfunction.
Being an Omnist myself (someone who embraces all religious paths and spiritual worldviews), it was a no-brainer from the get-go. My mission became centered around providing truly holistic health for all who came across my path, but especially for the non-conformists of the world. And since my physical location is located deep in the Bible Belt, the need has been great.
I have sat with LGBTQ+ pastors and worship leaders kicked out of their churches and now in existential crisis, kink lovers from Abrahamic faiths (i.e., Judaism, Christianity, & Islam) struggling to reconcile their cravings with sacred texts, as well as New Thought followers who embrace, yet are sometimes overwhelmed at the idea of being connected to all of humanity on a very literal energetic level.
The disconnect steeped in their pain is palpable. What used to bring joy now feels like ashes. Here our work together explores and processes how to restore the soul song.
My office has also seen spiritual seekers from a wide variety of paths including Pagan, Buddhist, Hindu, Ifa, Candomble, Santeria, Shamanism, and many, many more; all deriving great solace and meaning in ritual. It would be a very tragic oversight indeed not to include this in personal development work!
THE GOAL OF SACRED PSYCHOLOGY
Sacred psychology aims to help individuals return to their own purest authentic Essence (the Spirit taking the form of our soul). You can picture it like this – “If Spirit were water, soul would be a particular lake or river, and personality would be waves on its surface – or frozen chunks of ice in the river” (Riso & Hudson).
It’s a lot like that Enigma song “Return to Innocence.” You know…who you really were (and are) before the world fucked with you.
Be yourself, don’t hide
Just believe in destiny
Don’t care what people say
Just follow your own way
Don’t give up and use the chance
To return to innocence.
Sacred Psychology practitioners facilitate healing and integration of all levels.
We view our client’s presenting concerns (e.g., anxiety, depression, relationship issues) as symptoms of a lack of congruence between their authentic set points in mind, body, spirit, and soul. Put another way, there’s a glitch between their ideal and their current reality, and we help them find and correct those.
BASIC TENETS OF SACRED PSYCHOLOGY
Some of the commonly held beliefs among Sacred Psychology practitioners are:
– Within each person is an individual spark of the Divine/Universe/God(dess).
– Humans are inherently good at their core Essence and are naturally driven towards growth and self-actualization.
– Suffering occurs whenever there is a disconnect/ splintering between core values and set points unique to each person and personality and his or her current circumstances or behaviors.
– Our “personalities” are nothing more or less than a pretty complex combo of someone’s natural tendencies/ preferences/ desires as a Spirit Being and the operant conditioning … aka patterned bullshit from caregivers, peers, religion, culture etc. and/or reactions to trauma. WE ARE NOT OUR PERSONALITIES NOR ARE THEY BAD.
– By incorporating each client’s personal spiritual worldview into our work together, we allow for deeper transformation that is achieved quicker and lasts longer.
– Clients are the experts on themselves and have all they need to reach their goals; sacred psychology practitioners are merely navigators for the exploration process.
– The sacred psychology process is a dynamic and collaborative experience between client and practitioner that isn’t bound by traditional psychological frameworks alone but can incorporate whatever is sacred to the client, spiritually speaking. For example, meditation, prayer, ritual, energy work, archetypal work based on spiritual worldview, dream interpretation, shadow work, somatic therapies and more.
IS THIS SOUNDING GOOD TO YOU?
If you’re a non-conformist, rebel with purpose, misfit or mystic, visionary, healer archetype of any kind, who is ready to unlock or reignite your soul, mission let’s chat! I offer services in person or online through video or telephone.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Tamara Powell, LMHC is a licensed therapist, university psychology instructor, and spiritual empowerment coach who believes life should be lived as journey that is “anything but ordinary.” Her podcast, Sacred Psychology, provides a peek behind the veil of psychology to a place where neuroscience and spirituality go hand in hand.
She opened Arya Therapy Services as a way to provide holistic health and healing to a global market of non-conformists. With specialties in gender, sexual, erotic, and relational diversity, Tamara is passionate about holding sacred space for misfits and mystics.
If you’re interested in working with her, you can learn more about her services here.
Cassandra R Sunde
OH MY GOODNESS!!! I have been listening to your podcast (in no particular order) for weeks now and after EVERY episode I have wanted to leave you a voicemail….but I’m a little too chicken. Every single one of your topics, every single one of your guests have resonated on such a deep level that I’m left pretty speechless . (Speechless and staring at your “Send Voicemail” button) I have a special spot in my heart for Alexandra, an extra special spot in my heart for you and I can’t wait until I can afford a remote session with you. Just….wow. Much Love, Cassandra
Hey Cassandra! That rocks my world to hear! 🙂 Looking forward to connecting further whenever you feel ready hon!