You enter the forest at the darkest point, where there is no path. Where there’s a path, it is someone else’s path; each human being is a unique phenomenon. The idea is to find your own pathway to bliss.
Joseph Campbell, Pathways to Bliss (2004)
Support During a Spiritual Crisis or Transformation Journey
Beth is knowledgeable of a wide range of resources that can be beneficial for persons who want to process a spiritual experience and/or explore their spirituality in general. She can also provide her clients a safe place to discuss their questions, concerns, and spiritual transformations. Beth encourages her clients to speak with clergy members in their religion if they would like to do so and/or to consider spiritual counseling through a religious organization if that it is in the client’s belief system. However, many people may not necessarily feel connected to a particular religion or may have undergone an event in which a clergy person told him/her that their spiritual experience or belief was “not real” or that it was “wrong” because it did not match the teachings perceived as truth by the clergy member.
It is common for us to spiritually evolve as we age. Especially when we approach our own lives mindfully, we engage in a natural and continual process of culling some beliefs and integrating other beliefs, experiences, and knowings. Joseph Campbell in Pathways to Bliss wrote, “What I’ve found is that any mythic tradition can be translated into your life, if it’s been put into you. And it’s a good thing to hang on to the myth that was put in when you were a child because it is there whether you want it there or not. What you have to do is translate that myth into its eloquence, not just into the literacy. You have to learn to hear its song” (xxiv, 2004). Regarding the concept of bliss Campbell wrote, “But I do know what bliss is: that deep sense of being present, of doing what you absolutely must do to be yourself. If you can hang on to that, you are on the edge of the transcendent already” (xxiii). For many persons, the experience of bliss includes the moments of experiencing their own inherent divinity, Love, and interconnectedness to others.The spiritual path is often meandering and is unique for each of us. Many belief systems throughout the ages have asserted that is our purpose of being here; to learn how to be and experience Love through (and despite of) a variety of circumstances.
Now that it is culturally safer to do so (at least in many parts of the world), and because modern technology has allowed a large-scale distribution of theological and spiritual ideas, there seems to be an increasing desire to directly connect to God/Source/Love. No longer are many people wanting or feeling that they need to go through a gate-keeper to connect to something bigger. This desire to directly experience and connect to sacredness (which is defined and felt differently for different people) is reflected by the growing number of persons who identify as “spiritual but not religious.” According to Pew, “One-fifth of the U.S. public – and a third of adults under 30 – are religiously unaffiliated today, the highest percentages ever in Pew Research Center polling” (http://www.pewforum.org/2012/10/09/nones-on-the-rise/, 2012). Additional research has shown that, “The landscape of SRBP [spiritual or religious beliefs and practices] in the United States is rapidly shifting. Although a majority of Americans (74%) consider themselves Christian, a growing number identify themselves as religiously unaffiliated (16.1% reported by Pew Forum, 2008; and 17.8% reported by Gallup, 2012a)” (p. 130).
Because ample research indicates that spirituality is strongly correlated with physical and emotional well-being, it is very important that mental health professionals can assess spirituality and work collaboratively with the client. Beth, as a mental health provider, can provide an open space for the person to discuss their journey, assist him/her in processing questions and alleviating the discomfort of uncertainty, and provide guidance to appropriate spiritual resources.
Campbell, J. (2004). Pathways to bliss: Mythology and personal transformation. Novato, CA: New World Library.
Pew Research Center. (2012). “Nones” on the rise. Retrieved from http://www.pewforum.org/2012/10/09/nones-on-the-rise/
Vieten, C., Pilato, R., Pargament, K., Scammell, S., Ammondson, I., & Lukoff, D. (2013). Spiritual and religious competencies for psychologists. Psychology of Religion and Spirituality, 5, 129-144.