A New Field
Spiritual Counseling is a new field in the realm of psychology, psychiatry, counseling, and life coaching. It has also been called Transpersonal Psychology. As such, it requires specialized training in order to maintain a standard of excellence in the field. The International Guild of Certified Spiritual Counselors and Coaches provides this specialized training with three levels of certification for professional spiritual counselors and coaches: Level I Initiate Master, Level II Intermediate Master, Level III Adept Master. Before we describe the training program and the three levels of training, it will be useful to discuss what makes a spiritual counselor.
In the past three decades, a number of counseling professionals began to evolve beyond the traditional concepts and techniques of their original training, many along a more spiritual vector. Since it is the 21st Century and spirituality is no longer an odd concept, other newer professionals were already there. Despite the conservative tendencies among licensing boards and insurance companies, counselors who introduce spiritual, transpersonal, or metaphysical paradigms into their work are no longer as ostracized as they were in decades past.
Dr. Brian Weiss, the author of Many Lives, Many Masters, was the head of psychiatry at Mt. Sinai Medical Center on Miami Beach when he published his book on past lives in the mid-1980s. Since I live in the area, I heard from the local psychiatric community that many psychiatrists wanted to kick him out of their local and national psychiatric associations. Brian clearly weathered that storm and has impacted the lives of hundreds of thousands of people worldwide with his work, but it is an example of how traditionalists have been threatened by this work. If you are a psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker, mental health counselor, psychotherapist, marriage and family therapist, hypnotherapist, pastoral counselor, or life coach counselor and you choose to broaden your practice to include spirituality, you can still expect some blow back. That is why credentials are so essential. Because of your advanced education and training, you cannot be accused of being instant 90-day wonders.
Today there are many who call themselves spiritual counselors, who are not well-trained or credentialed. Credentials are not everything, but they are not to be dismissed so easily either. I know some excellent spiritual counselors and they do not have a Masters Degree or Doctorate in a counseling field. Unfortunately, I know some who provide spiritual counseling and are in way over their heads. Of course, having a Masters or Doctorate does not guarantee competency either. However, for any of us in the counseling fields, our specialized training gives us a window into the complexities of the human psyche, of dealing with traumatized people, of working with people in complicated and dysfunctional family and partner relationships, of seeing people at their best and at their worst. Consequently, counseling is not for the faint of heart or the unskilled. Hence, this book is directed toward those counselors who are professionally credentialed; those who have the requisite educational training and experience in the counseling field. They already have a foundation to build upon, allowing for the addition of these new and reframed skills.
What is a Spiritual Counselor?
I am going to reframe the idea of counselor for you. When you add spirit, you are no longer just a counselor, you are also a healer. Taking a cue from our Shaman, Hindu and Buddhist cousins, we are holistic in approach. We work with all five Lightbodies: physical, mental, emotional, etheric-karmic, and spiritual-soul. We have learned real healing cannot take place without addressing all these levels in some manner. We also work multi-dimensionally.
It might surprise you, but spiritual counseling works with all major areas of therapy: individual, group, marriage, couples, and family therapy. A spiritual counselor also has a lot of tools in their healing toolbox. Many spiritual counselors are also hypnotherapists, Reiki Masters, Healing Touch practitioners (or follow similar healing modalities), as well as being certified in a variety of spiritual and healing practices (energy/chakra work, shamanic traditions, spiritual readings, past lives, sound healing, meditation, body work, mantras, and so on). My friend, Denise Walkingbird, is a shaman. I love her definition of what makes a shaman: “A shaman is someone who choreographs energy for the purposes of healing.” I think that works pretty well for spiritual counselors as well. Each spiritual counselor has their own individual toolbox, but all of them bring more than just talk therapy to the table. In finding their unique spiritual path, each counselor must discover the vantage point and modalities that work best for her/him.
So, without further ado, let's describe the training and how to register for it. Click on Spiritual Counseling Training.