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How does the work I do differ from psychotherapy?


The goal of many traditional forms of psychotherapy is to assist in eliminating troubling symptoms, such as depression or anxiety, or to facilitate more effective interpersonal relating. My work with people is an attempt to facilitate an encounter with the soul, the deepest truth of who we are, which leads to discovery and embodiment of our deepest essence and core gifts.


This journey to soul inevitably results in the stirring of emotions connected to early life wounding. Rather than attempt to change or eliminate these emotions, mentees or program participants are guided to move into deeper relationship with their wounding so that the gifts hidden in those wounds can be accessed and reclaimed. When this happens, there is a transformation whereby the wound is recognized--not as an inconvenience or hindrance--but as a sacred doorway that leads to the mysteries of soul.


Less traditional forms of psychotherapy such as Jungian depth work or Family Systems Theory may view and work with wounding in a similar way. What distinguishes my work is its nature-based framework, the utilization of experiences and tasks on the land, and the focus on soul encounter and the exploration of one's soul story.


How is the work I do different from shamanic work?


In ancient indigenous traditions the shaman was the intermediary between the human world and the spirit world. People came to a shaman for healing, and to bring them into harmony with the land and its story. The shaman helped people through the use of rituals and plant substances, in ways that had been developed over thousands of years. Often the shaman interpreted the experiences of those he or she guided.


The work I do borrows from the wisdom of the shamanic traditions in many cultures but does not copy any culture's rituals or practices. It encourages you to access your own deepest wisdom, and to open yourself to a direct experience of the mysteries. I offer nature-based practices that facilitate psycho-spiritual healing, movement towards wholeness, finding your harmonious place on the earth, and retrieving a connection with your soul or deepest essence. And, very importantly, I do not interpret your experiences. Rather I try to facilitate your own discovery and further embodiment of what you discover of your own unique way of being in the world.


What is a vision quest?


A vision quest is journey of several days into the wilderness with the support of a guide. It is essentially a ritual marking the death of your old life and the patterns and ways of being that no longer serve you and a rebirth to the bigger life that is calling to you. The heart of the experience is fasting alone in the wilderness with only enough possessions to keep you physically safe – usually four days without food, and three days alone. During the days prior to your solo, known as the severance phase of the quest, you prepare to die to your old life, and learn Soulcraft practices that you might choose to utilize on your solo. In the days after your solo, known as the reincorporation phase of the quest, the story of what happened on your solo is heard and honored, and you plan how you will bring the gifts your received on your journey back to your community.


I no longer guide or co-guide vision quests. In the shorter programs that I guide in wilderness and retreat center settings and in my work with ongoing groups and in individual mentoring sessions, I teach and utilize the same practices used on a vision quest, for example work with dreams, shadow, and council, but without the more focused death-rebirth ritual that is central to a vision quest.


Is a Vision Quest necessary for the discovery of our soul nature?


We are often thrown into life crises by events such as serious illness, loss of a job or relationship, or mid-life questions. Sometimes the emergence of such a crisis will itself awaken us to our deeper soul purpose. More commonly, however, we direct our efforts to restore a form of the old life. This is partly because our soul nature and guidance is hidden from us by layers of cultural socialization, and behaviors and roles that we developed to survive and be successful in the world. Our ego will resist letting go of the life that it knows and in which it is relatively comfortable and secure. Also, the language of the soul is the deep imagination, an important human mode of knowing that is largely neglected in the modern human culture.


The conditions of the vision quest - a severance from one's daily life for an extended period, fasting, and solitude in wild nature - greatly facilitate a weakening of the ego consciousness and the likelihood of recognizing the messages of our soul, it is not the path for everyone. If you feel that it might be for you, I would encourage you to explore what it entails through the website of the Animas Valley Institute, https://www.animas.org. The institute guides are exceptionally well trained and offer powerful experiences. For those not called to such a journey, cultivating a regular practice of embodied dreamwork, journaling, time in nature, or other consciousness shifting practices can help open and strengthen your connection and communication with soul.