Okay - so. Just has a meeting with some students from the University Marketing Department, who gently reminded me that I need to be updating my blog at least once a week...as opposed to once every six months. In the interest of getting off on a fresh start, I offer the following:
A couple weeks ago, someone questioned the validity of my delineation of shamanism and psychotherapy, and I was not able to give a satisfactory response. Having given the matter some thought, I'm still not sure I can clearly articulate the difference. However, I am becoming much more aware of the quandary.
What I have said is that "the psychotherapist aims to heal the mind, while the shaman aims to heal the soul." While this is true, at least in many cases, it doesn't really address the fact that "soul" and "mind" are only words we use to map the landscape of the human experience. I cannot even say that the tools and intention of shaman and therapist are all that disimilar. The more I work with really excellent therapists, the more I come to see what they are doing as shamanism by another name. At the same time, the way the psychotherapeutic literature describes the process excludes much of that the shaman offers.
As a shaman, I can go to places on the map of human experience that most psychologists or therapists are trained to avoid. I can speak of the spirits of ancestors and of connecting with missing pieces of the soul, or of journeying to the spirit of the land to make peace with the place you live. On the other hand, I do not work in terms of diagnosis and I am constantly holding an intention of integration toward wholeness in my awareness, which guides my words and actions when in session with a client. Perhaps it is this difference of focus and mapping that allows me to differentiate my work from that of the psychotherapist.
I will dwell on this more. Thanks for getting me thinking about this Joshua.