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Pearlbrook

Psychology, therapy and its effects on your Paganism

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Pearlbrook

Off-shoot from the Thrill of the Dark Side thread!

I'm really interested in how your experiences with therapy/counselling, psychology and philosophy have affected who you are as a person and what form your Paganism takes.

Maybe we could also have some summaries of the major theories that we talk about? 

Your experiences, however big or small, are completely valid and valuable to the thread; and for those who have not experienced counselling or know nothing about psychology, it would be really interesting to hear your thoughts on the matter, too! Is it all too far removed from the core of your Paganism? Do you think this kind of thing detracts from a person's relationship with nature/magic/whatever makes your Paganism tick? Or are there things you are really interested in exploring but haven't had the time?

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Ellinas

I've never received any therapy (save in the sense of drugs and surgical intervention for physical ailments)

Therefore, I cannot really comment.

Whether I need some sort of therapy is another matter.  Mrs E decided a long time back that I am a psychopath...:o_yikes:

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Earthdragon

Great topic.

My path both, before and after I identified as a pagan, has involved learning about psychotherapeutic methods by going through them myself, from reading and listening to resources on them and also through conversations with counsellors and therapists.

My experience of some Druidic methods that I practice are directly imbued with the learning that I went through in all the above. 

Lots more to say when time allows.

For me, guided introspection is a way of increasing the content of what I am aware of concerning my own self and my interactions with the world. This directly relates and overlaps with spiritual practice, religious practice etc. 

Once I became familiar with one of the approaches I explored further on my own. 

More later 🙂

ED

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Earthdragon
21 hours ago, Ellinas said:

Mrs E decided a long time back that I am a psychopath..

Ah the thrill of the Dark Side see! 👹

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Earthdragon
17 hours ago, Earthdragon said:

For me, guided introspection is a way of increasing the content of what I am aware of concerning my own self and my interactions with the world. 

This is such a big area to talk about I think I shall try some bite-sized contributions for a day or two before going on my hols 🙂

I did six months of Person Centred therapy when I was in my mid twenties. I had issues with depression and lack of direction in life.

Ayear before I had had an awakening if sorts through a Hindu based practice called TM or transcendental meditation. For six months I had felt uplifted and expanded but then fear and panicky feeling started to well up from nowhere and this turned into depression.

I know that we tend to remember the memories of an event as much as if more than an event itself but I clearly remember sitting with the therapist at one session and being dumbfounded about how little she was expecting of me. What we explored was down to me, what I expressed was down to me, what direction we headed was down to me. Not all the sessions were like this and I don't actually think I came up with much that seemed useful at that session. I realise that the importance of it for me was the realisation that I had the freedom , choice , the right (to use a different type of adjective) to think and direct things for myself. It was a defining moment for me, though understanding and feeling it fully took decades!

ED

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Earthdragon
40 minutes ago, Earthdragon said:

being dumbfounded about how little she was expecting of me. What we explored was down to me, what I expressed was down to me, what direction we headed was down to me

This may seem like a contradiction and she in fact expected a lot from from me. She didn't. She just sat there and left me to talk, occasionally making the odd comment. Alot of the time she said nothing. I felt it was a bit bizarre at the time.

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Pearlbrook
6 hours ago, Earthdragon said:

This may seem like a contradiction and she in fact expected a lot from from me. She didn't. She just sat there and left me to talk, occasionally making the odd comment. Alot of the time she said nothing. I felt it was a bit bizarre at the time.

People do find Person Centred strange at first. One of the basic skills of person-centred is called "managing silence". It's knowing when the silence is a "working silence" during which the client is thinking, digesting information, learning to accept their thoughts and experiences, and experiencing a therapeutic benefit, and when it's an "awkward silence" when the client doesn't know what to say and feels awkward. Working silences are encouraged and nurtured in therapy. We were told stories during training of entire sessions conducted in silence, with the patient finding benefit because they were still experiencing the loving kindness and unconditional acceptance the therapist was offering.

The aim of person centred is to offer three things: empathy, unconditional acceptance and congruence. The idea is that the therapist offers the client a completely safe space full of care and acceptance, without any kind of challenge or invalidation. Carl Rogers, the founder of Person Centred, believed that when a client feels completely free to be themselves and be accepted, only then can they begin to explore the boundaries of who they are and accept themselves. It also makes it clear that the source of the client's issues and more importantly the solutions are within themselves and empower them to change. 

The frame-of-reference through which we live and view new experiences is a collection of perceptions about ourselves, other people, and the world. The trouble is that when we are under stress our frame-of-reference can become quite rigid and things which don't fit in with our current understanding have to be subconsciously rejected or ignored as if they don't make sense because we can't expand our boundaries and incorporate them. That sounds very abstract but here's an example: I believe that I am bad at maths. Objectively, you watch me do maths and I am able to do it quickly and easily. But that doesn't agree with my belief that I am bad at maths, so I ignore the experience of doing well or make excuses.

But within the relationship between Person Centred counsellor and client, I can hopefully let the boundaries of my frame-of-reference become more fluid and begin accepting experiences which don't tally with my current views.

Ultimately, I think we can apply this to spirituality. I let the theory empower me and recognise that I have great spiritual power over myself and my reality. I can imagine that this would be useful in a magical setting as well, though I don't practice magic. But learning to achieve a kind of meta understanding of your frame-of-reference and explore and expand it is on some level a spiritual thing.

I think this has an impact on my relationship with the things that Hestia symbolises. I try to offer unconditional acceptance to everyone in my life and try to enable some self-actualisation and growth. 

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Ellinas
12 hours ago, Earthdragon said:
On 4/19/2019 at 11:57 AM, Ellinas said:

Mrs E decided a long time back that I am a psychopath..

Ah the thrill of the Dark Side see! 👹

Can't say the idea of being a psychopath thrills me.  Whether it thrills Mrs E is something of which I cannot be certain - though she shows every sign of being distinctly un-thrilled...

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Earthdragon
On 4/20/2019 at 5:36 PM, Pearlbrook said:

It's knowing when the silence is a "working silence" during which the client is thinking, digesting information, learning to accept their thoughts and experiences, and experiencing a therapeutic benefit, and when it's an "awkward silence" when the client doesn't know what to say and feels awkward.

My experience was definitely the latter, however, as I mentioned, in the long run it is this experience from which I have felt the longest term effect. And surely positive when I look at it as I can link it to being my own person and reducing down my unthinking reliance on fitting in with other people's expectations and conversely becoming empowered to examine my own experiences and thinking.

 

On 4/20/2019 at 5:36 PM, Pearlbrook said:

I let the theory empower me and recognise that I have great spiritual power over myself and my reality.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/12798261/

In the abstract above, Jeannarod discusses the way that sensory information sets are correlated in the brain to enable a development of a sense of ownership of the physical body and actions with a sense of agency which means one develops a sense of having separate and personal intentions which are manifest in one's behaviour. These two enable a sense of independent self to develop. I think , Moonsmith, you refer to this in watching an infant grow and realise it's individuality.

It is a similar process , as I see it, in a psychological and spiritual sense, to develop one's own sense of independence with regard to choices in viewing, for example,  one's spirituality or morality or beliefs. These being facets of an  independant ( ie. "spiritually sovereign") self with a sense of ownership and agency for one's paradigm, values, principles and beliefs.

This process can involve disentangling unwanted correlations (eg. Past conditionings) and then  identifying patterns in one's current experiences which can be correlated with techniques, exercises, sets of decisions etc in the present.

On 4/20/2019 at 5:36 PM, Pearlbrook said:

The trouble is that when we are under stress our frame-of-reference can become quite rigid and things which don't fit in with our current understanding have to be subconsciously rejected or ignored as if they don't make sense because we can't expand our boundaries and incorporate them. 

I really like this description. I think you have described something that is pertinent in a general sense even when we aren't stressed ( I have a alot of sympathy with the idea that we are a species with trauma, and therefore stress, embedded within our makeup )

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Ellinas
12 hours ago, Earthdragon said:
On 4/20/2019 at 5:36 PM, Pearlbrook said:

The trouble is that when we are under stress our frame-of-reference can become quite rigid and things which don't fit in with our current understanding have to be subconsciously rejected or ignored as if they don't make sense because we can't expand our boundaries and incorporate them. 

I really like this description. I think you have described something that is pertinent in a general sense even when we aren't stressed ( I have a alot of sympathy with the idea that we are a species with trauma, and therefore stress, embedded within our makeup )

Sounds somewhat similar to the concept of cognitive dissonance.

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Stonehugger
On 4/18/2019 at 6:52 PM, Pearlbrook said:

I'm really interested in how your experiences with therapy/counselling, psychology and philosophy have affected who you are as a person and what form your Paganism takes.

The therapy I had was about trying to look back in time to find the starting point of the issues I was dealing with (grief, anxiety, paranoia, all the usual 😀) and it helped a lot with grief. That freed me up to discover what grief meant to me, essentially a very broad set of over-reactions to any kind of loss. That in turn allowed me to think more clearly about a whole range of things including how the natural and supernatural world has an impact on my life. The answer to your question, for me, is therefore extremely generic. It didn't directly influenced my path but it freed me up to understand it a bit better.

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