Spirituality and Counseling


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Dear Conscious Community, 

Given what we have been facing and going through as a country, and in the world, it’s not surprising that David H. Rosmarin, associate professor at Harvard Medical School writes: “Americans’ mental health is at the lowest point in history.” People are feeling more isolated than ever, for many reasons: the need for social distancing during the pandemic, loss of momentum in friendships and family relationships, political division, a rise in bigotry, and now, for many, remote working. 

Rosmarin also believes that religion and spirituality offer tools that can help in this mental health crisis. In the beginning of psychotherapy, Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis, asserted that religion is a type of “mass delusion,” while the then-ascendant Communists called religion “the opiate of the masses.” This stance became the dominant thought in scientific circles, and therapists kept spirituality and religion well clear of the therapy room. 

However, attitudes are changing. In fact, David Lukoff, a prominent clinical psychologist, talks about promoting programs on “spiritual competency” for therapists. Such programs include classes on mindfulness, self-compassion, forgiveness, and mystical experience alongside counseling classes. 

We now have the research showing distress increases rates of heart disease and other ailments, as well as anxiety, depression and thoughts of suicide. That is why in 2016, the American Medical Association advised that doctors should provide a spiritual care plan as part of their treatment for patients. 

In certain circles, we now talk about spiritual awakening and spiritual emergencies. Steve Taylor, a professor of psychology at Leeds Beckett University in the United Kingdom, explained that “spiritual awakening is simply a shift into a more expansive state of awareness.”

The first step in spiritually integrated therapy is for clients who are opening up to their greater possibilities to know that they are undergoing a natural process and not going crazy. 

As a spiritually integrated counselor, I use spirituality as a positive force in my work, but I also deal with the reverse. Over the years, several clients have come in seeking counseling due to religious or spiritual abuse. That’s when religion or spirituality has been misused to control, dominate, or manipulate people. Sometimes, clients have been born and raised in such environments, and the damage is quite extensive. If you know of such a person, or if you have suffered from this yourself, I encourage you to reach out to me. 

But overall, I am happy to share that my success rate with clients who are inclined to bring their spiritual side into the counseling room has been very positive and beneficial for them. 

Here are 7 reasons to work with a spiritually integrated counselor: 

1) You get to address your whole self – mind, body, and spirit – and not just what goes on in the mind and body. 

2) You acquire new tools to manage stress and anxiety, without immediately resorting to medication. Meditation and breathwork, for example, are shown to be quite effective in managing symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression. 

3) You will learn to tap into something greater and deeper than your general knowledge of wellbeing. This extra ability to heal is something you can draw upon for the rest of your life. 

4) You can teach the tools to other family members, your children, or even co-workers, and watch them manage their stress more effectively. 

5) You will learn to cope better and become more resilient in the face of difficult life circumstances.

6) Your spirituality will serve as a source of support when you are feeling overwhelmed or overstimulated. 

7) Once you develop this skill set, you will always have access to it, at no cost and without recourse to specialist help.  

If you are interested in learning some tools and techniques to manage your stress and anxiety, feel free to watch some of my YouTube videos (https://www.youtube.com/c/Centerpeaceproject); several of them have thousands of views. You can also arrange for private sessions with me. 

Finally, thank you for your unending support and for being part of this conscious community. May your home be filled with happiness and love this Thanksgiving season.

With blessings, 
Dr. Ellie

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Dedicated to those we have lost in the Covid-19 pandemic.

Dr. Ellie Zarrabian 

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Dr. Ellie Zarrabian 

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