I am writing this essay as a present to myself on my 59th birthday, which was the 25th of September. Therapeutic communication of course works both ways and those that don’t want to see and understand this two way street make lousy therapists. Dr. Scott Peck, in his famous book The Road Less Traveled, made a great point about therapists’ authenticity being the crucial key to therapeutic success.
I have gone a step further and define this as therapeutic vulnerability and live the point by helping others be vulnerable by offering my own. My mentor in life, Christopher Hills, taught me that the strongest person is actually the most vulnerable one for he is without fear, or at least has the courage in the face of fear to show his entire true self.
Psychologists are trained to fear showing their vulnerability and some run from patients if they see them on the street or at a shopping center. They fear encounters outside the walls of their therapy offices and commonly hide themselves behind their patients’ problems instead of helping them by offering up their own authentic vulnerabilities. Worse still, clinical psychologists and psychiatrists commonly drug their patients instead of treating them.
For kids: the number diagnosed with bi-polar disorder rose 40-fold between 1994 and 2003 and one in five comes away from a psychiatrist with a prescription for an antipsychotic.
Actually I could not help write this after seeing a New York Times article When Your Therapist Is Only a Click Away that infers that online therapy treatment is migrating into the mainstream. For someone like me, who started doing online therapy in the last century, it’s somewhat comical to read the revelation about how wonderful skype.com is for facilitating intense and purposeful communication.
The point most often missed by the professionals who are quoted about such things is that it is communication itself that is what heals and advances therapeutic work and it does not matter so much if that communication is virtual or actually being conducted face to face. It takes a communication psychologist to understand the obviousness of this truth and it just so happens that I am one.
Perfect love is perfect communication. Without perfect communication there is no perfect love.
One of my essence insights in this life is that both communication and listening are love and without deep and meaningful communication there is little love to speak of. I speak of such things in depth in my book, The Marriage of Souls, which only saw the light of day in my Survival Medicine compendium.
Love is the heavenly force that binds all as one, two as one, three as one and so on. Human loves are absolutely necessary as steps toward the divine. Love is the power that closes the circuit between beings. There is nothing more beautiful than true love, nothing more needed, nothing more hoped for.
The majority of my last fourteen years has been lived virtually and I do not think there are many who show so much of themselves to the world as I do. I have literally lived and breathed online creating the virtual worlds that I have while maturing myself as an individual through intense communication and engagement with others online.
Now my life is changing as I have just recently moved to Sanctuary in the deep interior highlands of Brazil. Here I have much more face-to-face contact and involvement with people, and now as I work with my first therapy patient in years I am being reminded of the work I used to do. Yes of course one can go much deeper when working with someone in the flesh especially if they are on retreat with you at the end of the world.
And though it seems somewhat academic when the world is faced with multiple calamities, I am thinking that this is exactly how I want to shape retreats to my Sanctuary. I am, after all, a very private and reclusive person and enjoy deep intimate contact and communication over the more superficial social levels of relationships.
I do not have an Internet connection yet and have to drive to town almost every day so am really not available to be able to commit to doing online therapy like I used to. The upside to the downside of my diminished digital communication capabilities is that it is a joy to get away from the world’s problems for days at a time and to only have a few hours a day when I do come into town to check in and go through all the bad news that continues to grow worse.
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Ideally I would love to be able to support my Pastoral Medicine work here with the local population by doing deep therapeutic retreats at Sanctuary but I think it is more important to batten down the hatches and prepare for the coming storm.
I got my start as an innovator in therapy 25 years ago when I developed what I called HypnoTrance therapy. I called it this because when I put people into a trance I closed my eyes and listened to my own words and went into a trance with my clients, all of whom were women who had been sexually abused or raped. By entering the same trance state I created an intimate contact that enabled us to journey back in time “together” to the traumatic experiences so they could be reprocessed and worked through.
The dream of Sanctuary began when I brought a European client I had met at the coast to the interior to drink the ayahuasca that is so widely available in these parts. He was dying and I needed some strong tools to break through his sophisticated defenses. His main problem was starvation because he could hardly get anything through into his intestines for absorption. When he left after three weeks he was eating like a horse!
My present client is a very young man—a teenager in fact—whose mental profile is one of a genius. Already a profound thinker and a capable digital worker he was losing his grip on his inner reality because his imaginative level of awareness is so strong. His body reacts almost instantly to any and all emotions marking a level of sensitivity and power that can be dangerous for him unless he is able to get his consciousness under control. The psychologists would have had a field day in diagnosing the inner threats that he has reported to me, but after only two weeks, I think they would probably weigh in sicker than him. Being in Nature at the end of the world helps a lot and so do the daily mediations that come from being on retreat.
My own therapy has more to do with helping with the painting of the upstairs and maintaining the full head of energy needed for my new life. For some of us it’s a bit freaky moving from the city to the quietness and peace of rural life. I pushed the family to move now because of the feeling of imminent world dangers. I will not publish my next essay on financial doom until the sky is falling on Wall Street, which will probably be very soon.
I wake up each morning to see the sun rising over the mountains and have been practicing solar gazing and this is most interesting. The best thing besides the birds, trees and rivers is the water we drink. Amazing how good water can be when untouched by human hands.
So thanks for reading my birthday present to myself. Writers like me get to benefit from the communications we make and my readers respond with enough frequency, intensity and passion to keep me aware that this is a two-way street.
I am a fortunate man surrounded by those I love living this very special day far away from the lights of civilization—though a medium tension power line comes right over the mountain to us. Today, Sunday, I have no idea what the comets or the corrupt bankers are doing or what volcano is blowing or what part of the earth is cracking.
I consider myself lucky to have been given a simple surprise party by my family at the beach where the rivers join below our property—the same exact point that I encountered 20 years ago when I first came to this region to live. Now I am back and am very happy and glad to have you all to share this with.