One of my instructors at school (well, a couple of them actually, but one in particular) incorporates energy work into her counseling practice. She and I have had a couple of all-too-brief conversations about that, and my shamanic practice, and some related topics. I’ve been a bit on the hesitant side to talk too much about my shamanism in school, just because even though I’m at one of the most liberal schools in one of the most liberal states in the U.S., it’s no guarantee of acceptance. However, she’s encouraged me to talk to her about it, so I feel pretty comfortable.
Tonight I talked to her some about integrating shamanism and counseling. I have some misgivings about incorporating a lot of my personal practice into counseling, because it’s not exactly public-friendly. Aside from the fact that a lot of potential clients could be turned away by the “mystical woo-woo” aspects of it, either for religious or other ideological reasons, I’m not sure I’d be willing to share some aspects of my practice with clients for a number of reasons. There’s disclosure, and then there’s disclosure. And I don’t want to only attract clients who think shamanism is a-ok–that tends to be a fairly privileged demographic to begin with, and I don’t want to alienate people outside of it.
I’m beginning to see why core shamanism is gaining popularity among counseling professionals. It’s more easily digestible, and can be couched in non-shamanic language. A core shamanism-style soul retrieval could be presented as a guided meditation to “find your inner child” (or however you wish to describe the missing soul part), for example. But I’m not sure how comfortable I would feel A) integrating something I have ideological disagreements with in my personal practice, and B) how much creative description do you get into before you’re misrepresenting what you’re doing?
It’s something I’m going to keep thinking about. At the very least, I figure I need to have a number of years established as both a practicing counselor and as a practicing shaman before I entertain seriously combining the two.
Speaking of being a practicing shaman, I’ve also been doing some reflection as I’ve begun to shift over into doing shamanic work for other people. I finally feel comfortable venturing into that territory, with a good bit of caution and a lot of guidance. One of the things I brought up to some peers who have more experience than I do is: How do I find people to work for, or, perhaps more appropriately, how do they find me? We talked some about whether to approach someone who has expressed a problem I could help with or not that I feel reasonably sure would accept my offer of aid, and the responses ranged from “Don’t–just let them come to you on their own terms” to “It’s better to beg forgiveness than ask permission”.
I have had a couple of people approach me, so it’s not as though word of mouth couldn’t work, but it has to start somewhere. I’m most certainly not at a point where I could ostensibly hang up a professional shingle. I think I’d feel weird trying to “sell” myself in this regard, especially with my lack of experience in working for others. But I also feel ready to offer my help, and I have support from some–not all–of the spirits I work with, in that some feel ready to collaborate with me on certain things.
How has that worked for readers/other folks?