What inspired you to write your book?
From the time I was 10 years old I knew that self-love was needed to end the pain and violence I saw in the world, and I gave myself 50 years to learn what I would need to be able to teach self-love. My life became about learning how to love myself and helping others do the same. After 33+ years as a psycho-spiritual psychotherapist I knew I had the information to put into book form.
You want to better the lives of all people. How will your book and research do that?
This book provides a different understanding than the generally believed understanding taken from the field of psychology. The views I offer stem from an integrative (mind/body/spirit) perspective and are based on actual experiences of growth and healing from hundreds of clients I’ve worked with over the 33+ years of practice as a psychotherapist. It is concepts such as “self-sabotage” that, when believed, keep us disconnected from our true and deeper loving self. The book provides new, sound and positive concepts that strengthen the individual’s relationship with self.
How has your personal experience impacted your life and who you are today?
My many varied experiences left me with an important need to go deep into my own psyche and find the real truth of who I am, and who we all are. When we learn how pain is a gift, and how to use that gift, we grow in leaps and bounds. I wish I had had a copy of Entering Your Own Heart when I was much younger – it would have definitely speeded up the healing struggles and gotten me to the wonderful place I am now. Who am I today? Someone who is very compassionate for myself and others, easy going, peaceful, accepting, rarely (once in the past 3 years) angry, without anxiety and with a joyful purpose to love and teach love.
You’ve had to overcome many obstacles in your personal life. How has this made you a more effective psychotherapist?
As I learned to face my own pain I learned that pain comes from self-blame, judgmental ideas and mistaken beliefs. Because I slowly walked through my own hell and have come out the other side I have no fear of holding the hand (figuratively) of a client and helping them walk through their own hell. Because of my own healing journey and my 33+ years of helping others with their pain, I’ve come to thoroughly understand where pain sits in the psyche and what is needed to cure it. Being with another person in their experience…with compassion, so that they do not feel alone and know that they are truly seen and accepted is a major step in their healing process. When I work with interns the first thing I say to them is that working deeply on themselves is what is needed if they want to be an effective healer. Book knowledge is insignificant if you cannot authentically connect with your client.
Explain how combining the psychological with the spiritual has been an effective method for you.
The psycho-spiritual perspective is profoundly different than the psychological perspective. Even if the client and I never mention spirituality – this perspective informs my work. First, and foremost, I come from a wellness rather than an illness perspective…that the body, the brain, the emotions and the mind are inextricably linked and affect each other. What is taught in Entering Your Own Heart has a calming effect on the body, but does not go in-depth into the physiological effects of emotional and mental stress on the body/brain and the natural remedies needed for rebalancing the brain that would need to accompany psychotherapy. Psychology makes different assumptions as to cause and cure than psycho-spirituality.
What makes what you do different from other therapists?
1) I do help people with their spiritual beliefs. Many come in with confusion because of various religious up-bringing or their exploration into other philosophies or religious ideas. I help them assess which beliefs are most empowering for them.
2) I offer breath work that takes clients to very deep altered states that uncover unconscious material needed for healing, whether from early childhood, infancy, in-utero experiences or perceived past life experiences.
3) I’ve been trained in somatic trauma work (which is not necessarily psycho-spiritual) but is part of the mind/body/spirit awareness work I offer.
Why is self-love important?
Self love comes from the beliefs we hold about who we are. When we heal mistaken ideas with compassion and understanding we begin to know and treat ourselves lovingly. We then accept no less from others, and offer no less. As others show us love we can believe it and be nurtured by it.
Self-love offers us the freedom to perceive life positively, not seeing life’s ups and downs as punishment. Misfortune can be seen as opportunity. Life becomes less scary, more hopeful – and more peaceful. When a person learns to love their self they are able to extend it effortlessly. The resulting inner peace creates outer-peace.
Why is it necessary to love yourself to heal yourself or those around you?
The act of compassionate understanding, which I see as the healing aspect of love, enables us to let go of the beliefs that cause us to be upset and angry with ourselves or others. We understand our past behaviors, past failures, with a more forgiving heart – and we become kinder to ourselves. This translates into being more understanding and kinder to others. Love, the verb, is at the root of how we think, feel and behave.
What is the biggest block to discovering self-love?
Not being taught to understand ourselves – being judged and believing it – not receiving the compassionate understanding we deserved – being made to feel we will be rejected or abandoned if we do not appear as others say we should appear or think as others say we should think. Ultimately, fearing the loss of love of others causes us to abandon ourselves and therefore experience a lack of love from within.
After helping hundreds of patients over the last three decades, what has been your biggest reward?
Each time a client begins to experience themselves as worthy of love, stands up for themselves, protects their heart better, is kinder and more compassionate with themselves I am strengthened. I am honored to be entrusted to be a part of their journey. The biggest reward I would say is deep connection with people.