Shamanism, Trauma Therapy & Psychotherapy
What is Shamanism and how does it connect to trauma and Psychotherapy? The term Shaman comes from Siberian or possibly even Sanskrit origins but is now used in the 'New Age' to apply cross-culturally to people who take on the role of acting as a 'bridge' between the physical and unseen realms in order to assist people and the community - often by entering into an altered state of consciousness. Although I have been Shamanically trained it is not a term I generally use to refer to myself by, but is a title that has been given to me over the years by some of the people that have come to me for help and by those who know the journey that I have been on. I prefer to use the term 'Shamanic' to describe some of what I do, as this refers to a process, as opposed to using the word 'Shaman' which refers to an identity and is more of a label - a label furthermore that really belongs to people of another culture to mine. In my opinion, despite common belief, in the current 'neo' way that the word is used there is no real consensus about what a Shaman really is, what they do and what differentiates them from other types of 'healer' - it can vary across cultures.
As a practitioner working in the Western world, the techniques I use are particularly suitable for the sorts of problems encountered in the 'urban jungle' and may be quite different to the techniques used by an indigenous Shaman living in the Amazon rain forest. As far as I am concerned, I am not affiliated to any particular tradition or way of working- I simply work from the heart - it is up to you what you call me!
I am experienced in many Shamanic practices including:
Spirit (entity) Release ( also known as Compassionate Depossession/Psychopomping) - helping to discern and release what may be perceived as external energy forces that have become attached to oneself or a particular location;
Soul Retrieval - reconnecting to aspects of one's being that feel as though they have become 'lost'/fragmented/disassociated from;
Extraction - clearing dense/stuck energies (often called 'intrusions') from the energy field;
Connecting to resources such as animal archetypes, 'Higher Self', Guides;
Energy Cleansing/Limpia - to assist the energy field to come into it's natural state of flow and balance;
Ancestral and Past Life Healing;
Space Cleansing - clearing houses/buildings/offices of stagnant/imbalanced energies;
Cord clearing - disentangling/dissolving energetic relational ties.
As well as being Shamanically trained I am also a former NHS Psychoanalytic/Mentalisation-Based Psychotherapist with many years of experience working with severe mental health issues and trauma in both 1-1 and group contexts. I generally advise combining any Shamanic work with me with more Psychotherapeutic methods as I feel that these approaches when used together are even more potent and can help integrate the work more effectively. Ultimately, in my opinion, they are both ways of helping you to 'digest' your experience of existing. I offer 'Shamanic Psychotherapy' sessions for people who are interested in the self-exploration offered by more conventional 'talking therapies' but who want a more Shamanic/spiritual orientation and who may also need help to make sense of and ground Shamanic/spiritual experiences into their daily life.
I tend to work from the 'bottom-up', rather than 'top-down' i.e. building a sense of safe, grounded embodiment and solid foundations first and only then moving to more cognitive insights and creative and spiritual expansion - as opposed to the other way around. There can often be an expectation that Shamanic work involves the client taking a passive role whilst the Shaman waves a magic wand (sometimes quite literally!), somehow 'gets rid of negative energy' and 'fixes' them. In my experience, this way of working is usually ineffective, disempowering, confusing and often unethical. A good example of this is 'entity release', where someone thinks they may have an external energy such as an 'earthbound spirit' attached to them. Firstly, any possible 'entity' needs to be differentiated from what is more often than not an aspect of that person's shadow self. In either case - whether a genuine spirit attachment or a projected aspect of the shadow self - psychological work is necessary alongside Shamanic work to truly resolve the issue. The root cause (usually originating from some kind of trauma) of why either an aspect of self has become disavowed or a spirit/entity attached in the first place (and it can be a mixture of both) needs to be addressed, which can take a lot of psychological exploration. Furthermore, any spirits/entities will also inevitably be carrying their own trauma which will also need to be addressed before they can truly move on. If this work - which can take time - is not done, the issue will just return again at some point.
I specialise in trauma reprocessing and alongside Psychotherapy and Shamanic methods I also have a number of specific techniques anchored in neurophysiology that can help with this, including CRM® (Comprehensive Resource Model®); Brainspotting, and The BLAST Technique® (Bilateral Analysis and Stimulation Technique). I define trauma in terms of the impact upon the central nervous system as opposed to an external event - so what may be a trauma for one person may not necessarily be for someone else. In my opinion, simply by being human, you are likely to be carrying some sort of trauma that you may not even be aware of. The great thing about all these techniques is that they go far beyond trauma reprocessing and can also be used to enhance resources, gifts and creativity (e.g. musical skills, sports, art, acting) as well as consciousness expansion.
CRM®: A typical CRM® session focuses on helping the client build multiple layers of neurobiologically 'scaffolded' resources whilst they simultaneously step into the trauma and allow painful emotions/affects to be fully experienced without retraumatisation. This focus on resources enables the person to remain fully embodied and present whilst they process the trauma. CRM® draws on attachment neurobiology, breathwork skills, somatic resources, one's connection to the natural world, toning and sacred geometry, as well as one's relationship with self and 'parts' of the self, intuition, and higher consciousness. It is not simply a model of trauma reprocessing but also a means to clear 'neurobiological sludge' in order to allow access to one's true authentic self, highest consciousness and personal expansion. CRM can be used to access and process trauma that has occurred generationally/ancestrally, in utero, at birth, pre-conception and in past lives (although you don't need to believe in things such as existence before conception or past lives for it to work - you can also see the material as metaphorical/symbolic). Please be aware these sessions can be quite long - up to 3 hours. Here is a video of Lisa Schwartz, the creator of CRM, explaining how it works - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VJTnOIG3c5c&list=PLHFIFspAfsh9QVPndHQr_6WVgI4CchyOK
Brainspotting: Brainspotting is a very powerful, focused and yet containing treatment that has its roots in EMDR (eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing). Through the use of eye positions, Brainspotting accesses the deep parts of the brain and central nervous system where trauma is held, enabling experiences and symptoms which are typically out of reach of the conscious mind and its cognitive/verbal capacities to be processed in a gentle way.
BLAST®: The BLAST Technique® is a very quick, gentle and effective way of reprocessing trauma, also based on EMDR. It uses a light pen and eye movements to release the trauma whilst the event is pictured in the client's mind. The idea behind this is that with trauma, structures in the right side/hemisphere of the brain are overactive and acting as if there is an immediate threat. The eye movements enable the traumatic material to move to the left side of the brain which means it can be processed more effectively.
In my experience, trauma requires a holistic approach and most of the other techniques I use (e.g. Kambo, Hypnotherapy, Sound Healing, Massage) also have a lot to offer in this area.