Let us Deep Dive into the difference between therapy and spiritual healing or coaching.
I was immediately sucked into the series Deep Dive, as I am into all things regarding spiritual healing and cults. I reflected throughout the series on the practices by the spiritual healer in the series and how she used therapy like exercises, but took them a bit too far (in my opinion).
A big pushback that I have with this particular person is that she often shares that psychology, as a whole, is too afraid to address real issues. Issues such as suicide, sexual trauma, loneliness. Yet- I think about the sessions with my own clients and how much we address these issues head on. So why go to a therapist instead of a self help guru?
We have training and ethical guidelines.
Someone is holding us accountable.
We have continuous trainings.
I want to clear this up- as someone that uses coaching techniques and even wants to step into that field, I am not against the field of coaching and just general learning from those that have figured things out. That is great, as I am a human that deeply feels we all learn from one another and our experiences can assist in growth for others. I also am all for holistic healing, and if spirituality is important and seeking a healer, why not have both?
Suicide is a big topic when it comes to spiritual healers and self help gurus. I have heard so many clips (I listen to podcasts for at least two hours a day, so feel free to judge) of these speakers discussing suicide and pushing yourself to death. From telling you to imagine death, to telling followers they can just reset, to pushing people into feeling weak if they leave a sweat lodge too early- we have to ask, are these people really helping?
I work with suicide- often, without even having to consider hospitalization. We talk about the why, we talk about the loneliness and negative self talk, and then we make plans to keep us safe while remaining autonomous. Do therapists have clients that die by suicide? Absolutely, that happens. We also know the risks and make sure that we work to assist in every way possible without pushing a client outside of their window of tolerance. I have never been afraid to talk about suicide in my sessions, and watching a “healer” say that she cannot have a person die by suicide because of the bad press brings me sadness and anger. I have watched the blame be placed on therapists, and yet, I have never thought when helping a person- this could be bad press. I sit with the person and do my best to help them find a small amount of hope, future, person to live for.
This is just one example of many when it comes to subject matters that a therapist may be a better option.
Trauma is another one.
I have found through many teachings that being trauma informed and being a guru, spiritual healer, self help leader, or coach is not apparent. Where is the line when pushing someone? Where is the line when suggesting memories? I have to agree, our mental health system is not where it needs to be. Frankly, we are underpaid and overworked (even those of us in private practice often find ourselves not making our targets due to waived fees, reduced rates, and pro bono). Insurance is making it harder on providers and many of us simply cannot afford to take insurance due to late payouts, clawbacks, and too many audits. I also know that many times, the alternative is just as expensive as therapy. I wish there was a better system, better pay, more informed clinicians, more open and affirming clinicians, and better processes to get in quickly.
There is such a big place for spiritual healers, gurus, and coaches. I simply ask for us to consider if the issues we need help with should also be pondered with someone that is licensed and practices under a code of ethics, a board, and a community. For many, having multiple outlets of these supports that are all working together would be a great, beneficial experience. Ponder if a spiritual healer or self help guru puts down the work of trained professionals without seeking to work with them, and question a therapist that is fully blocked to the idea of their clients experiencing healing from all elements of life.
Let us all aim for holistic healing