Archive for July, 2014

Going Deeper

Friday, July 4th, 2014

“The most important things are the hardest things to say.”

– Stephen King –

going deeper

I think a lot about the intersection of spirituality and therapy. Through discussions and reading, I have come to feel that I would like to more intentionally help people to get in touch with the core of themselves, and face their deepest questions, and find their deepest values. To an agnostic or atheist, this may be a sense that one wants to experience life fully. To one from an eastern belief system this may be the the practice neither grasping nor pushing away. My hope is that therapy would help those with whom I work reach toward what is most true and most essential within themselves. Though my own experience is rooted in the Judeo-Christian worldview from which I come, I draw a lot from buddhist practices, such as mindfulness.  For example, I am strongly influenced by Pema Chödrön. I recognize the common themes shared by the major religions, so, for example, the teachings of the Franciscan priest,  Richard Rohr, are, to me, very compatible with the teachings of  Pema Chödrön.   The therapy I hope to provide is concerned more with the process of personal growth than it is with the religion that shapes ones spirituality. That is, I seek to help people from within their own context be they religious or atheists.

The word psyche is used most commonly now to refer to the mind such as in the term “psychology” ( the study of the mind). The word “psyche’, however, has its origin as the Greek word for soul or spirit. As a psychologist, I find it intriguing to think of myself as a “student of the soul”. The soul may be likened to a lens of great clarity and magnification from which we can see deeper and farther when we view our world and experience from this perspective. The things we see through this lens then become poignant to us, are deeply personal and hard to articulate. We tend to be shy when we think about expressing them since they are not discussed in normal conversation. “The most important things,” Stephen King writes, “ are the hardest things to say. They are the things you get ashamed of because words diminish your feelings – words shrink things that seem timeless when they are in your head to no more than living size when they are brought out.  The worst thing,”  King tells us is “When the secret stays locked within not for want of a teller but for want of an understanding ear.”  I hope to be that listening ear.

For it a sacred moment when a client takes the risk to speak of these experiences to a therapist who is listening carefully. And, as a therapist, it is an honor to be present with another, one to one, as they find the words that speak of what they see through the lens of the soul and hear themselves tell it thereby gaining insight, comfort and clarity. The spiritual, then, within therapy or any other experience for that matter is not determined by the experience alone but by ones perception of the sacred within that experience. A therapist sensitive to the spiritual, may experience the therapy process that way whether the client does or not. The therapist then, with prudence and respect, can discern whether or not the client can benefit from the open expression of this spiritual sensibility. If so, and if it can be done within the client’s own belief system, then the therapeutic experience can be enriched by a shared awareness of the presence of “that which is larger than ourselves”.

The focus of my practice is not  spiritual,  per se but to be attentive to my clients’ spiritual frame of reference  within their suffering, healing.   By my own practice of attention, meditation and writing, I heighten my own awareness and sharpen my discernment. By communicating to others through essays such as this, through speaking publicly and through offering workshops and groups, I hope to share my heightened awareness with others and to offer an invitation for potential clients to experience spiritual growth as well as psychological and emotional healing. It is an invitation to myself and to those with whom I work to go deeper and to awaken.

To further explore the teachings of  Pema Chödrön and Richard Rohr, I recommend these books as a good introduction:

When Things Fall Apart  by Pema Chödrön and Everything Belong by Richard Rohr


Perry Hazeltine, Ph.D., Psychologist

227 North Duke Street Lancaster, PA 17602  or (717) 875-8993

Perry is interested in helping adults through anxiety and depression during times of transition or loss. He sees great opportunities in mid-life that are often preceded by loss of enthusiasm, or great anxiety such as fears of illness, aging and death. Those interested in their spiritual life can be helped to see these periods of confusion and pain as precursors to personal growth and an opportunity to deepen their interior life. Perry has a bachelor’s in Religious Studies from Villanova University and a doctorate in Counseling Psychology from Temple University. In addition to psychotherapy, Perry offers career assessment and counseling. He also provides psychological evaluations of people entering ministry and conducts fitness-for-ministry tests as well through the Samaritan Counseling Center.