Mary Ellen O'Leary, MA, LPCC

                                                                          Clinical Mental Health Counselor









Therapy, in its essence, is about exploring the intangible part of being human. Experience of that intangible is called Spirituality.

Human spirituality encompasses values, meaning and purpose. It touches freedom, intuition, conscience, and awareness of life at any moment. Spirituality reflects how humans connect to integrity, love, wisdom, imagination, and compassion. Spirituality can explore the existence of higher intelligence, and can also involve awareness of lower energies.

Spiritual awareness allows a bridging between the unconscious and conscious processes. When successful, this bridge creates a flowing, dynamic balance that supports the healing of body-mind-spirit.

Spirituality and religion are not the same. Though religion may have spiritual qualities and features, spirituality is more expansive. Awareness of spirituality offers flexible strength and self respect. Spirituality instinctively veers towards self-acceptance, compassion for our experience, and letting go of fear. Out of respect for ourselves comes respect for others, the road they walk, and the world we live in.

Some call our spirit "Soul". Some say it is "Heart." Some know it as "Conscience" or "Intuition". Some call it the "GodMind". Some refer to it as the "Buddha Nature" or the "Christ Consciousness" or the "Illuminated Mind". Some think of it as "Imagination" and "Creativity". Some view Spirit as "Nature" or "Power". Some regard Spirit as the unseen counterpart to every human experience. What is true of all these descriptions is that this Spirit is within each of us, awaiting discovery.

Spirituality is a central component of healing, perhaps the most essential. No matter how we describe it, people will still struggle with it's definition, and this is a good thing. Spirituality is not only about the question of growth, but about staying open to the questions which keep growing.

Imagining and envisioning and grappling with the vastness of being, knowing and unknowing can be a source of strength and resilience.

"Spiritual Emergency" & Suffering

Spiritual growth is not always pleasant; awakening spiritually can sometimes feel like a crisis. When Stanislof & Christina Grof coined the term "spiritual emergency" they highlighted both the danger and the opportunity that spiritual awakening holds for us.

Fear and anxiety are often byproducts of spiritual growth. If we do not understand what is unfolding through us, fear often drives us to hold on to the familiar and obstruct movement. It is important to remember that every experience of the human can be seen as the reflection of a spiritual perception, and every inch of the path of growth is fertile ground for transformation.

Therapy with a spiritual perspective can help pinpoint where one unconsciously resists an evolutionary process. By participating with the transformation which wants to be born, suffering can be relieved.

Therapy can also help relieve suffering by offering safety, support and perspective while a client goes through personal transformation.

Therapy builds and nurtures resilience to keep strong during hard times. Then those difficult "spiritual emergencies" can help us open out of our small dark cocoons of fear into the brighter world of wholistic reality.

"What is to give light must endure burning."
- Viktor Frankl

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