Information on Paganism and Wicca for Counselors

I’ve posted many of these resources here before, but never in one entry.  I suppose this should evolve into a resource guide — but for now it will do as a post entry.

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WEBSITES:

My website at http://www.pagantherapy.com has basic information on what Paganism is.

http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/pagan_professional_counseling/
http://www.pagantherapy.com/pagan-professional-counseling-yahoo-group/

Information on a Yahoo Group of professional therapists interested in counseling Pagans or religiously Pagan themselves. 100+ members strong worldwide.

Covenant of the Goddess (CoG): http://www.cog.org — Has a good basic faqs section on witchcraft, Paganism, and Wicca.

The Witches’ Voice: http://www.witchvox.com/basics/wfaq.html — Another good FAQ on Wicca and Paganism.

The Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids: http://www.druidry.org/ — Good basic site about modern Druids.

Raven Kindred (Asatru): http://www.ravenkindred.com — Good site about Asatru (Norse Gods worship)

The Shadow of Olympus (Hellenismos): http://www.iskios.com — Blog and information on the worship of the Greek/Roman Gods in modern times.

I have put together several other sources for finding out more about Neo-Paganism and Wicca. Most of these are resources I developed — but you can see bibliographies and links at the end of several of them to other materials by other presenters.

PAPER:
“Understanding and Counseling Neo-Pagan and Wiccan Clients”. A comprehensive paper intended for publication. Please note the bibliography at the end of the paper. Even if you are not really looking to read the paper — there is a long list of websites and other information sources in the Suggested Resources and References sections at its end.

http://www.pagantherapy.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/Pagan_and_Wicca_-…

PRESENTATIONS:

1) Pagans and Counseling — My lecture notes for a workshop I give to therapists and social workers about Paganism. These are a bit rough — but can largely be deciphered on their own.

http://www.pagantherapy.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/Pagans-and-Counse…

2) Pagans and Hospitals: Meeting the Growing Need — An old slideshow I did primarily devoted to educating hospital chaplains about how to deal with Pagan patients. See:

http://www.washington-baltimore-paganclergy.org/archives/hospital-chapla…

http://www.washington-baltimore-paganclergy.org/wp/wp-content/uploads/20…

PODCAST INTERVIEW:
This podcast might be a good place to start if you have Pagan clients and are trying to figure out how to better service them. It’s primarily aimed at potential Pagan clients who are trying to decide what to expect from therapy.

You can download the entire .mp3 file directly at this link:
http://download.imbleedingprofusely.com/pcp/PcpEpisode108.mp3

A full minute-by-minute outline of the topics discussed is available here:
http://imbleedingprofusely.com/archives/tag/pcp108/

If you have trouble with the above links, the show can be downloaded from iTunes. Search for episode #108 of the show “Pagan Centered Podcast”.

Their main website is at http://www.pagancenteredpodcast.com

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I just launched a new version of my private practice website!

As part of the redesign, I added a number of photos of my various offices to the site.

Here’s one that DID NOT make it onto the site.  I’ll give you one guess why.  Have you ever seen so many orbs in a photo?  I’m not quite sure what to think about it.

You can click on the picture to enlarge it.

DSCF2154

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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.

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Black and White Work Completed

Brian has completed the black and white work of the painting.  His note says:

“Here is how it looks so far in the black and white stage….  I am going to work on the colors soon.  This took me all week to get to this point.  I included references from three different books on dreams and Hypnosis and the uses of it and its origins.  Also a chart of the sleep stages, and dreams.  I got to say I am loving this idea and making it museum worthy.”

BWS Hypnos

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New ASERVIC Competencies

The Association for Spiritual, Ethical, and Religious Values in Counseling (ASERVIC) has revised its list of counselor competencies for dealing with spiritual subject matter.  I mentioned this association (which I belong to) in my recent PCP podcast on finding a Pagan-friendly counselor (episode #108 — not available quite yet as of today).

Items #7 & #8 give me hope that counselors will show increasing tolerance for Paganism:

  • 7. The professional counselor responds to client communications about spirituality and/or religion with acceptance and sensitivity.
  • 8. The professional counselor uses spiritual and/or religious concepts that are consistent with the client’s spiritual and/or religious perspectives and that are acceptable to the client.

Item #10 may give some clients pause — a counselor following this would explicitly inquire about the client’s religious and spiritual perspectives.  Pagan clients will need to have an answer they are comfortable with ready to go:

  • 10. During the intake and assessment processes, the professional counselor strives to understand a client’s spiritual and/or religious perspective by gathering information from the client and/or other sources.

What I would like to see more of in this standard is an emphasis on actively finding the positive tools, techniques, and outlooks included in religions that help clients towards health.  So the standard does say that counselors recognize that religious perspectives can effect mental health positively and negatively, and that the counselor can use religious practices when appropriate, but the standard does not emphasize trying to actively seek out the tools within each religion that promote health.

— Michael

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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:

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Pagans in Deep in the Mental Health System

I got to visit the grand re-opening of a drop-in center on Friday.  A drop-in center (sort of like the name implies) is a facility, usually run by other mental health clients, for the benefit of mental health consumers.  They play games, watch movies, generally hang out, and frequently get involved in educational and job-related activities as well.

Anyway, I walked into this drop-in center and shortly noticed 4-5 clients all wearing pentacles, dragons, tattoos, and all the usual status stuff that marks Pagans as Pagans.

This was interesting as I don’t generally encounter lots of Pagans in the more serious mental health settings.  (While not always true, people who choose to hang out with other mental health clients on their free time are often among the more seriously mentally ill.)

Well, apparently several of these Pagan folk attend the psychiatric rehab program (PRP) across town (ironically they don’t attend mine — where the management is Pagan).  Pretty soon I was hearing stories of astral battles, shamanic banishment of astral nasties, and the ways in which their PRP was now cleansed, warded, and protected courtesy of the Pagan clients.

All in all a rather normal Pagan conversation.  Except for the setting.

Which put me in both a state of cognitive dissonance and a thoughtful mood.

Cognitive dissonance because half of me approved and the other half of me was evaluating for possible delusions.  Thoughtful because of all the ideas and questions that came to me.  A sampling:

  • How exactly would the typical psychiatric center staff react if they caught a banishment ritual going on?  How should they react?  Do they dare even consider allowing it?
  • In a traditional culture (or a Pagan discussion environment) this problem would not even arise.  The shaman (or Pagan) would of course be allowed to proceed with the banishment.  It would not matter if he/she was really banishing nasties or just hallucinating it — the community support would make it no big deal and possibly be healing to the individual.
  • But in a serious mental health center, when do you let clients run free with their paranormal experiences — especially if they are involving other clients?
  • Hmmm… maybe I should ward and cleanse my PRP better too…

I’m intrigued how this all fits together.  I suspect these Pagan folks just quietly do their thing, with the psychiatric staff none the wiser.  Perhaps the staff overlook a certain amount of odd behavior.  I think there would need to be a treatment team ethic in place something to the effect that its healthy to allow clients to work through their own delusions if no one is being hurt.  (And of course, maybe its not delusion and the center is the safer for it…)

I’d be real curious to know how this balancing act plays out at their PRP — but of course if I ask I might upset the apple cart.

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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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Pagan Centered Podcast Show

Yesterday I completed about a 2 hour interview with Amber and Dave at the Pagan Centered Podcast (PCP) — a show that tells it how it is on a wide variety of topics.   I was thrilled to be able to talk about one of my favorite topics — Paganism and psychotherapy.   I believe the show is slated to be #108 or so in their line-up 3+ weeks from now.  I doubt it will be 2 hours after editing.

We covered a variety of interesting topics — which I won’t talk about much right now because that would ruin the anticipation, wouldn’t it?  A few topics we discussed:

  • Is it hard for a Pagan to find a good therapist?
  • What are the criteria for selecting a good therapist?  What additional criteria might a Pagan look for?
  • Do patients claiming experience strong paranormal gifts always get prescribed psych meds?
  • Can a patient claiming to be Otherkin (the idea of having a soul that is either partially or completely non-human in some way) be in a healthy mental state?
  • What are some guidelines a new Pagan patient should follow when going to see a therapist?

I think I came through halfway coherent and without babbling too much (we’ll see).  I will say that I gave some ways to find therapists who might be more understanding of Pagan clients.  I also emphasized that HEALTH is what matters — not a client’s belief system.

You can download their podcasts from iTunes.  Their website is at http://www.pagancenteredpodcast.com

— Michael

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Psychosis and Paganism

I’m frustrated.  A friend (not patient) of mine has apparently been in and out of the hospital lately.  From her writings, she does not sound too well — likely a bit psychotic right now, jumping from topic to topic too much, and half-lost in references and delusions all her own.  But even more disturbing is that she may be right about something at least in part — that her fundamentalist parents and hospital views of her religion are combining to make this far worse for her than it actually has to be.

She complains about hospital questionnaires that she knows are designed to test for psychosis — but that Pagans answering truthfully would trigger.  I have not seen her questionnaires, but I have seen similar.  I can only hope the professionals handling her case have some compassion and insight on matters of religion and spirituality.

The possibility that parents or hospital staff might persecute her may be enough to make the delusions and psychosis all the worse since there could be a grain of truth to them.  I’ve observed on many occasions that upset people tend to become more unbalanced.

I’d really love to consult with that hospital on Paganism and handling Pagan patients.

Blessings to her recovery.

— Michael

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