Q&A with Rev Karen E. Herrick, PhD, author of Psychology of the Soul & the Paranormal

1. What is The Psychology of the Soul & the Paranormal about?

Psychology of the Soul & the Paranormal is about Jungian psychology and different kinds of paranormal and mystical phenomena that help develop the personalities of people along with the evolution of their and our souls.  I believe everyone should realize that they have a soul purpose and they need to discover what that is in order to really develop themselves here on earth.  I also give examples from my life growing up in a dysfunctional, alcoholic family and how I grew from this and learned about my spiritual side.  In my growth, I learned about Spiritualism and eventually I began teaching about mediums and psychics.  (I have attended many conferences as a speaker.) Medium visits have helped so many of my clients who were in chronic grief.  This book also has illustrations of our astral and spiritual body explaining how the vagus nerve, the 10th and longest nerve in our bodies, becomes the channel for our spiritual body or soul to leave our physical body during different types of spiritual experiences and during our physical death.  The Silver Cord runs along the vagus and allows us to leave the physical and have out-of-body and near-death experiences.

2. How did you get interested in this topic?

I became interested in these subjects over forty years ago when I joined the Edgar Cayce Association of Research and Enlightenment.  Reading their materials and attending conferences taught me many things.  Before that I had read Shirley McClain’s books while raising my three daughters.  I used to visit psychic fairs also in both of my marriages.  I lived in California for awhile and there was much of this material around out there.  I now live in New Jersey.  I’m a grandmother of eight and a great-grandmother of three little boys.

3. Tell us about your work as a therapist. How have you integrated spirituality and the paranormal into your therapy practice?

  As a therapist, I ask my clients about their religion and what they believe while doing an assessment of their family.  Most say they are not religious but are spiritual and I investigate this as I’m helping them with whatever symptoms they have.  As a result they have told me many “weird” stories and they trust me knowing they will not be judged.  I remember one woman who came in for relationship problems.  At the end of the first session, on the way out, she said, “Karen when I was five years old, I saw my deceased grandfather in the back yard.  I had never met him, but I knew from photographs who he was.  It was a very pleasant visit.  I know you like ‘this stuff’ so I thought you’d be interested.”  So, I just became known as being really interested in their experiences and when appropriate I would tell them about mine.

4. What sort of paranormal or mystical experiences have you had in your life and how has that affected you?

In 1987, at a conference about Transpersonal Psychology, I had a Holotropic Breathwork experience where I felt another breath come into my body and out my mouth.  I didn’t know who’s breath it was, but I continued to breathe, and this breath breathed along with me.  After this was over, I experienced my original birth – coming down the birth canal.  I remember not knowing what was happening but wondering “Where was my mother?” during this time.  After this four-hour experience (which seemed like twenty minutes), I drew a mandala drawing that the leaders, after lunch, said was a “rebirth.”  It took me about two years to determine what had happened to me.  I related mostly to Bill Wilson’s comment when he had his spiritual experience after asking God to remove his desire to drink.  He said something like “I felt a breath of spirit not air go through me and my desire to drink was gone.”  I have named this my Holy Spirit experience and am grateful for it. There are other spiritual experiences in my book.  For instance, when a friend told me about a “ghetto house” I didn’t want to move to, but I eventually bought it at auction, and it was where I was supposed to live.  Also, I ended up in the oldest Coptic Christian church in Egypt once while looking for a Cathedral where the Virgin Mary had once appeared.

5. What are some interesting paranormal or mystical experiences that your clients have reported during therapy and how have you responded or treated those?

I ran spirituality groups for a few years while getting my PhD in Spiritual Psychology.  These clients especially had wonderful stories to tell because the more people can discuss their different experiences, the more they remember.  They reported seeing angels, not just believing in them.  They had experiences where they felt the presence of their deceased relatives.  They had “de je vu” experiences of past lives, etc.  One male client who came for relationship problems, stated one day “I leave my body at night and I’m afraid a lot of the time that I won’t be able to get back in.”  I had never been trained in this (It was before my PhD work.) so I asked him “How do you usually get back in?”  I have since learned all you have to do is think about being back in your body and you will be back there very quickly. I eventually referred him to the Monroe Institute in Virginia where he learned all about astral travel.

6. How would you respond to skeptics or traditional psychologists who discount mystical experiences as coincidence, chance, or delusions?

I usually just listen to what they believe and try to ascertain if they are at all open.  I think believing in coincidence is a place to start to talk to them about this process.  How do they think this happens?  Have they heard about Jung’s term synchronicity?  If they are open, I discuss with them.  If they are not, I’m really not interested in having a conversation with them because they have already made up their minds.

7. Why do some people have mystical experiences and other people do not?

I really like Dr. Kenneth Ring’s theory that is mentioned in his book The Omega Projectwhere he studied what he termed “Near-Deathers.”  He wanted to know why did this one group of people had a Near-Death Experience and this other group did not.  His “Home Environment Inventory” that he created measured:  (a) physical abuse and punishment (b) psychological abuse (c) sexual abuse (d) neglect and (3) negative home atmosphere (Ring, 1992, p. 138).  He suggests that because these adults had a higher incidence of child abuse and trauma, they were more likely to experience NDEs.  By dissociating as children and by splitting off threatening aspects of their environment, they taught themselves to tune into alternate realities in which, by virtue of the dissociated state, they could feel safe no matter what was happening in their life.  I tell my clients that this is their gift for experiencing dysfunction and trauma – that they are able to have more spiritual experiences as a result.

8. What advice would you have for therapists who want to integrate spirituality or mystical experiences into their therapy practices? What are some interventions, topics, or examples of how a therapist could integrate that work into their practice?

I would tell other therapists who are interested to listen to the stories their clients tell them and see what topics they are interested in.  I usually ask at some point “Do you believe in past lives?”  Most say they do but they aren’t sure how that happens.  By asking this type of a question, you are telling the client that you like these type of topics and they feel freer to discuss them.  They can read different types of book, of course, where people are explaining what has happened to them and also be open to become more spiritual themselves.  I really enjoyed reading your “10 practical tips for finding and living your calling” that I received when I became a member on your blog.  All of the things you mention there are how people can get more in touch with their soul purpose.  I also teach Internet webinars on CEYOU.org on Jungian Psychology, Spirituality and Spiritual Experiences.  Finding courses like these will open up many therapists to know there are others “out there” and start a discussion.  I’ve had quite a few therapists from my Webinars email me that they have psychic abilities, but they’ve always had to hide them especially when they discuss their work with other professionals.

9. How has Carl Jung’s work on synchronicity been present in your life and how do you integrate his teachings about synchronicity in your work with clients?

I teach people about their unconscious when they first come into my office.  I tell them what Freud thought and what Jung thought.  I give them the five different layers of our unconscious from Jung and eventually they get to realize that I like Jung more than Freud.  Also, some clients do come to my office because they have been told I teach about Jungian Psychology.  “The Ghetto House” story in my book and also the one about the oldest Coptic Christian in Egypt where both synchronistic stories that deeply affected my life.

10. Anything else?

I plan on putting this third book of mine on Audible.  I’m looking for a friendly recording booth and engineer in my area to do so.  I then want to do a Podcast because as with so much of what I teach, people have told me how helpful it’s been to them in their lives.  And, at my age, I’d like to give back to a larger number of people if this is possible.  And/or if it’s in the larger plan for my soul development.

Comments

  1. Michael Tymn says:

    Clearly, Karen is not your garden-variety therapist — the kind that believes all of psychology must fit into the narrow boundaries accepted by behavioral psychologists. Unlike mainstream therapists, she has come to understand various kinds of paranormal and mystical phenomena and how they relate to the development of our personalities and the evolution of our souls. One can only wonder if the mainstream will ever catch on.

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