Archive for Information & Referrals

PCP Episode #108 is Online!

Pagan Centered Podcast (PCP) episode #108 is now online.  As I discussed in earlier posts here and here, we discuss several topics related to therapy and Paganism for a bit over an hour.  It’s been online for 3 days and already has 424 downloads — I’m psyched! (Bad pun intended.)

Amber and Dave at PCP also posted a nice outline of the show online so that if you are interested in a specific topic you can jump right to the portion of the show that it’s discussed.

The outline of the show is here.

The actual .mp3 file is available for download here.

This show is also available through iTunes.


Further Work on the Hypnos Painting

Brian is continuing work on a painting of Hypnos for me, as I reported on in an earlier segment.  He seems very excited by the progress and so am I.

Here are pictures of a study version of the painting, and the initial drawing on wood for the final painting.  Click on the picture to see the larger version:


Interview Went Well

Wednesday I got to hear an advance copy of my interview with PCP: Pagan-Centered Podcast.  I was very happy with it, apart from some sound quality issues.  They did a good job cleaning up my “ummm..” and awkward pauses.

Self-promotion aside, I think this is a worthwhile interview to listen to if you are hesitant to see a therapist and want to know how to approach a therapist with Pagan beliefs.  I also cleared up misconceptions on being involuntarily hospitalized, drugged without consent, labeled schizophrenic for paranormal experiences, and a host of other concerns.  I was quite happy with it.

I believe it will be posted as episode #108 in a few weeks.  You can get it off of iTunes, or visit their website for other methods.

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BLUEWAVE Light Therapy Units from Philips/Apollo

This is supposedly my “Pagan Therapy Blog”, and it is, but my interests lately have been with easy-to-use gadgets that can help my clients with stress and depression.

I recently scooped up 10 little portable light therapy units in a cheap eBay auction!  I now have 10  goLite P1 “BLUEWAVE” light therapy units for use with seasonal depression and sleep disorders.

The nice feature about these units is that they are very small and portable.  They can run on battery — so clients can move them around from place to place and carry them from work to home.  Recent research seems to show that only certain bluelight spectrums of sunlight are required for benefits — and so smaller LED portable units like these have been developed.

More on BLUEWAVE and it’s research claims can be found here and here.

I suppose if I really stretch I could make a link to Paganism… these units were originally manufactured by Apollo Health before Philips bought them… Apollo is the Greek God of the Sun and Healing… his son is the Greek God of healing Asklepios… his daughter is Hygeia — the goddess my counseling practice is named after…

I’m very good at stretching things.


Light Therapy and Negative Ionization for Seasonal Affective Disorder

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a mood disorder in which persons experience symptoms associated with depression (sadness, low energy, weight gain, loss of interest in activities, & more) during the winter months when exposure to sunlight is diminished.

Several research studies have shown the effectiveness of full spectrum (mimics natural daylight) light therapy boxes in improving depression symptoms.  Users sit beneath the lights with the lights shining into their eyes at a slight downward angle.  They usually do this for about 20-30 minutes per day.  Some studies have suggested that early morning is the best time for this.  Research has also shown the value of negative air ionization therapy — especially at high density concentrations.   The Center for Environmental Therapeutics has information on environmental therapies for SAD and other disorders, including the use of light therapy boxes and negative ionizers.  They have a useful online self-assessment instrument instrument for depression, including questions for SAD, which can be found here. The results should be discussed with a therapist or doctor.  The criteria that therapists and doctors generally use when diagnosing SAD can be found here.

I have recently purchased a  Day-Light(TM) light therapy box by Uplift Technologies Inc. so I can show clients what these look like and start experimenting with it.  This looks like a good model given the adjustable legs, downward angle of the light provided, and the low cost.  It’s also recommended by CET — which is run by a group of doctors primarily out of Columbia University and Yale.

I have also purchased an ionization unit from Comtech Research (model IG-133DG). The various manufacturers fight back and forth as to how useful negative ions are for air purification (HEPA filter companies claim negative ions just cause dirt to cling to walls and surfaces) but that’s not the point — for help with SAD (and perhaps other forms of depression and some sleep disorders) high concentrations of negative ions are clinically indicated.

As I think I’ve said before, a high percentage of the clients who come to me seem to be adverse to taking medications.  While I’m not adverse to sending someone for a psychiatric evaluation for possible medication, OF COURSE holistic drug-free alternatives should also be explored.  These alternatives delight me.

They also delight the Pagan in me.  Most of the light therapy options work by providing bright light at colors close to or identical to natural sunlight.  Negative ions are found naturally at fairly high levels in forests and along beaches.  In other words, these healing alternatives help bring us back to nature and affirm its healing value.  Now, if we could all just get OUTSIDE more and go for a walk in the forest or along the beach more!!

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Pagan Leadership Skills Conference

This morning I agree to co-lead the Pastoral Care track of the Pagan Leadership Skills Conference this July in Richmond, VA.  For those of you who don’t know about this conference, it is a professional intensive training opportunity for Pagan clergy to beef-up their skills.  Past years have had tracks on counseling, finances, marketing & PR, group facilitation, and more.  If your Pagan organization is growing and you didn’t get to go to seminary and business school (and who did?), then please consider attending the conference.

I’m delighted to be co-teaching with Judy Harrow — a mental health counselor, present (or past?) President of the New Jersey chapter of ASERVIC (Association for Spiritual and Religious Values in Counseling), and Pagan elder.  She is also Chair of the Pastoral Counseling Department at Cherry Hill Seminary.

Here is the current generic write-up on the planned class:

More and more today, Pagan groups are being called on to guide the personal and spiritual growth of their individual members, minister to their needs, and counsel them through life changes. The Pagan community is a unique context for this ministry, and the PLSC Pastoral Care track will give you a base knowledge of common counseling techniques and tools to help you do so. The track will address the foundations and basic techniques of pastoral care, active listening, unconditional positive regard, reflective and additive empathy, appropriate confrontation, spiritual assessment, confidentiality and its limits, and specialized tools and techniques such as what to listen for and questions to ask. This track will equip you to develop a personalized action plan for pastoral care to bring back to your organization or group.


Biofeedback for Stress, Anxiety, and Sleep

StressEraser PictureI have been training some of my clients for the past few months in the use of the StressEraser — a biofeedback device proven to assist with stress, anxiety reduction, and some sleep difficulties.  I’m constantly on the lookout for devices that will assist clients in a natural manner without the use of drugs — especially since so many of the clients I seem to get are resistant to taking medications.

The StressEraser uses heart rate biofeedback to teach you to learn how to breathe right.  Heart rate biofeedback is when you see a graph on the device screen of how your heart rate is rising and falling between breathes.  Biofeedback is a treatment technique in which people are trained to improve their health by using signals from their own bodies — in this case by looking at the graphic display.StressEraser Screenshot

Proper balance is primarily achieved through proper breathing. Your heart rate goes up and down with your breathing. When you breathe in, your heart rate tends to go up. When you breathe out, your heart rate tends to go down.  Relaxation and stress are also tied to these changes in heart rate.  More in-depth information about how StressEraser and biofeedback works and the science involved can be found by clicking here.

I have one client whose primary improvement has been linked to this device.  I have a few others who say they are seeing gains.  A few have quickly brought it back.  The issue in these cases is that people who are anxious occasionally get more nervous when they view the device as like a test or a critic.  I can sometimes move them beyond this and sometimes not.

The devices are retailing for $179 on the StressEraser website.  I’ve been picking them up used off of eBay for less.  Good gadget.


Baltimore Pagan Pride Events

The “Super PNO” for the Washington/Baltimore region is this Friday night at Mystickal Voyage.  Come have fun with other area Pagans.  Also it’s a chance to check out the digs of the holistic and yoga center that a number of area alternative practitioners (and myself) work out of.  Click here for information.
Also don’t forget Baltimore Pagan Pride Day this Saturday.  Click here for more information.  I’m not exhibiting or presenting — will likely stop by just to see what’s going on.


Therapy Decks and High-Speed Coaching

A few weeks ago I participated at a holistic health fair at Mystickal Voyage Holistic Center. I figured I’d run my usual information booth, hand out flyers, etc.

So I got there and — during my 4-hour shift anyway — every single other booth was staffed by a Tarot reader or a psychic. Meanwhile the organizers were assuming that everyone was doing 15 minute readings and had already started a sign-up sheet for me!

Those used to Tarot reading are likely reading this and saying “so what?”, and therapists reading this are cringing…

Anyway, I got a speed lesson in intense 15 minute coaching sessions. No divination. Just tell me your problem, tap into your creativity, and brainstorm next steps. It was fun and seemed to work quite well. Clients seemed happy. Of course, I made far less in tips than the Tarot readers and psychics — so that should be a clue to any students out there as to what profession to get into. (I donated tips to the Stepping Stones Nigeria orphanage for “witch” children.)

15 minute coaching sessions require a focus — something to pull the client right to the problem, tap their creativity, and immediately get them looking at the problem from a new angle instead of the stuck spot they came in occuping. This is where card decks become critical. There is ALOT we can learn from Tarot readers.

I have a whole workshop on using cards in counseling, but basically the story is that they can facilitate answers whether or not you believe divination is going on. The story used in psychotherapy anyway is that the mind is a meaning making engine and that a part of your mind will always try to make a meaning out of any information put in front of it. So if you think of a problem and pick a card, 9 out of 10 times your mind will supply a useful link between the card and the problem. In so doing your unconscious creativity surfaces.

I thought maybe I’d take this opportunity to list out some card decks that I use in therapy that I find very useful. Depending upon the need, I was pulling these decks out during the holistic fair:

Soul Coaching Oracle Cards — Have a simple picture and words such as Strength, Gratitude, Faith, Commitment, etc. Obviously usually used in divination but also great for the therapy situation described above where you ask the client to make a connection between the card message and their issue. I’ve also used these in “Resiliency” class at my psych rehabilitation program with a room full of folks with schizophrenia. The central lesson was that we all have resources to be strong with even if we have limitations or little money. By the time everyone drew a card and discussed their “love”, “freedom”, “grace”, etc. the room was much more upbeat and positive.

Dreaming in Color Deck — Emotional and spiritual states linked to artwork. Good for pulling emotions out of people stuck in their head. I’ve written about these before — click here.

Planning on Purpose Deck — A boring-looking, badly-printed deck by a career counseling center that is absolutely the best informal tool around for figuring out what your life priorities are. It’s supposedly geared towards career but the conversation can quickly become existential as the client figures out what matters in life. Using them is deceptively simple — clients sort the cards (with phrases such as “Nesting, creating a home”, “Sports, sports”, and “Leaving the World a Better Place”) into piles of low and high interest. Then they rank order the most important pile. Then you discuss how to bring their life into accordance with their top rank-ordered values. Good for helping break depression.
Healing the Mind and Spirit Cards — Advice for living with positive affirmations to change your thoughts. Good for when someone needs an “answer” and hope.

Hudes Tarot Deck — I almost never use Tarot cards. If I do, its in the context of architypal work. Along the lines of “find the cards that remind you of parts of yourself”. Useful in this way for helping people come to appreciate and be aware of all of the parts inside them. Usually the client is already familiar with Tarot or I find another way to work. This is one of my favorite decks.




Northern Virginia Pagan Pride Day September 7th — Workshop on Trauma and Magic

A shameless plug, but hey, I like doing public workshops:

I’m told I’ll have a presentation slot at the Northern Virginia Pagan Pride Day celebration on September 7th. More information on the festival at

Not sure what time I’ll be speaking — I assume not opposite Janet Farrar and Gavin Bone!

I’m looking to set-up an info booth at the festival too. In addition to info on my practice, I’ll have some flyers and be available to talk about my experiences a few years ago with Cherry Hill Seminary. More info on them at

Here’s my topic:

Trauma and Magic: Diagnoses, Groups, and Beyond: Often times folks drawn to the unusual and the occult are re-discovering themselves after a difficult past. That past history can lead to a variety of symptoms that friends may not realize are psychological in nature. These symptoms can effect covens, groves, and other working groups. This workshop will start by covering some of the symptoms of persons with trauma histories. We’ll briefly cover the spectrum of trauma disorders and discuss how such may effect the groups you are a part of. We’ll wrap up with a speculative discussion on the links between abuse and psychic or trance abilities. Time permitting we may range into the differences and similarities between psychosis versus psychic or magical capabilities.

Michael Reeder, MS, LGPC operates a counseling practice in both Baltimore and Washington, DC. His primary interests are Tarot, developing Neo-Pagan “pastoral” counseling methods, and the overlaps between magic and psychology. He holds a Masters degree in Clinical Community Counseling and a Post-Graduate Certificate in Spiritual and Existential Counseling from Johns Hopkins University. Michael has presented workshops for the Mid-Atlantic Pagan Alliance Beltaine Festival, Free Spirit Gathering, and the Pagan Leadership Skills Conference. His blog can be found at


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