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  • Writer's pictureHallie Swan

What is psychospiritual Therapy

I work at the junction of mental health and opening to expanded consciousness. When I say that, I don’t just mean experiencing expanded states in isolated incidents with plant medicine or other means. But I mean, creating a sustained opening. I mean, transforming ourselves and our relationship with our minds, our physiology, and our DNA to open to the multidimensional creatures we are.

Some schools of what is called “spirituality” avoid or bypass the density of life (racism, rape culture, acute mental illness, systemic oppression and dysfunction, etc.) Basically, they avoid the hard stuff in pursuit of the “light.” I work the opposite way. One could say that what I do is shadow work. This means becoming aware of and coming to terms with the disowned parts of ourselves, to embrace the totality of what we are. In real spirituality, nothing is excluded. Any spirituality worth its salt is not mutually exclusive with, or threatened by any subjective truth. The most powerful work we can do for our healing and expansion is going in to our dark places that we don’t want to see, or we don’t want others to see. The most powerful thing we can do is to become aware of, get to know, and embrace these long-exiled parts of ourselves, and own our truth. The most powerful thing we can do is reunite with our suppressed parts, and come back in to wholeness. The field of spirituality has a responsibility to embrace our collective shadow, and to welcome in very acute and dark trauma. And I take that responsibility seriously.

On a social justice level, as a white therapist, I acknowledge my inheritance of colonial psychology, and the ways that my body and unconscious actions grant me unearned privilege and potentially perpetuate oppression. I acknowledge how the oppressor lives inside me, in the ideology I was raised with and conditioned in to. As a woman, I also know what it is like to be oppressed, and I know the pain of both sides of this coin. My work is centered around undoing, extricating my soul from, and reorienting from internalized oppression and a hierarchical relationship with others (including animal and nature beings.) My work is in helping others decolonize their psyches. We all have a responsibility to disentangle ourselves from oppressive ideology and a dominating relationship with others and the earth… for their sake, and for the wellbeing of our own health and wellbeing.

I work somatically, which means that I work primarily by drawing clients’ attention to their body, and helping them become aware of the unconscious feelings, memories, and associations that live there. This is where so much of our vitality is stored. And accessing it can liberate a wealth of life force energy, and help us grow in to more dynamic beings with more range of motion in how we think and experience this Great Mystery. By way of the body, we move in to the present moment, and overcome the thought patterns, accustomed neural pathways, and the Default Mode network we were trapped in, to come in to new, creative ways of being. We can come in to a new form of existence and perception of reality that we didn’t think was possible when we were only referencing the same broken record of our trauma, and its related belief systems.

I also do group work, as I believe that we all carry collective trauma that can most effectively be processed and healed through group work. I believe that as Americans, we suffer from a lack of community and human connection.

I have a huge reverence and respect for the spirit world, which is actually more real and powerful than the material one. As West African shaman and author, Malidoma Somé says, “The spirit world is like a tree. The material world is like its shadow… and we walk around, giving all importance to the shadow, rather than the tree that casts the shadow!” I effort to maintain this living and reciprocal relationship with the spirit world which, when we do, empowers us and enables us to embody far more potential than we believed was possible when we were weighed down in the limitations of the materialist ideology alone. I strive to conduct my work as a Ceremony, honoring, feeding, and being in right relationship with the forces that come through me and impart their work.

I have a deep respect for expanded or altered states of consciousness. We live in a materialist society that in its materialism, is deeply sick. We are not just physical beings, but spiritual beings as well, and so much of our resource lies in the unseen realms (including access to ancestors, access to animal medicine, imagination, synchronicity, psychic ability, etc etc.) It is said that we only use 10% of our brains… what of the rest of our consciousness? That lies in the imaginal or energetic realms. Chinese and energy medicine confirms that all physical ailments start as energetic (sub-perceptual). Expanded or altered states open us to the immensity that is actually available, and the infinity that is possible. These experiences deeply jar us out of our deep sleep, our dream state, our projection based on thought forms, and this simulation we take for granted as reality. And we think, “if that projection is so fallible… if that “reality” can be disrupted so easily with a slight chemical change, what else is possible? What is really out there? Who are we, really? What is this? And what is consciousness itself?” These existential questions are the most important questions we can ask ourselves as human beings. Altered states are catalysts for spiritual expansion and the emergence in to a new embodied, felt-sense experience of reality that is more in alignment with the laws of the universe.

The way by which we access the spirit world and our interdimensional nature is, counterintuitively enough, through the body and the senses. We don’t get there by circumventing our bodies, the physical world, or our pain… we do so by deeply embracing and thus shifting our relationship to it, dissolving our resistance to it, and moving through it.

I work not just for the betterment of the individuals I see, but in service to collective humanity and the natural world. I hold a collectivist and organismic perspective, believing that we are all one multicellular organism, not separate from one another. I believe that by transmuting our trauma and our oppression, which keeps us separate from all of the connection that is innate to our natural state of being, we become better citizens and stewards of the land and its inhabitants. We become better relations. And as our liberation is tied up with each others’, this heals all beings, of various life forms, and raises the consciousness of the planet.

With blessings for all beings


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