There are many issues that psychotherapists deal with, but not many therapies are specifically developed to deal with issues of the Soul.
Some believe that this is best left to religion to sort out, but not everyone follows a religious path, and many are starting to identify as SBNR, or Spiritually Independent. I have noticed that it is this group of people who are turning to psychotherapy to deal with such issues.
And, why not?
The word psychotherapy derives from the ancient Greek words psyche meaning soul and therapeia meaning healing. Healing the soul is what we are meant to be doing, as well as healing the mind and heart.
Each client brings their own perspective on soul issues, but I have noticed a common theme – a feeling of emptiness deep inside. Some believe that a lack of purpose in Life is the cause of this empty feeling; some say that they feel so caught up in the “rat race” that they have no time to experience the deeper aspects of their lives. They say that organized religion is not the right “container” for their souls to flourish, but they struggle to find anything in life that fulfils this need. I know this place. I have struggled with that empty feeling and it can be a difficult path to navigate through.
So, how can psychotherapy help the Soul?
First, we can provide the space for our clients to explore these deeper issues, rather than analyzing them away, or finding a way to make them issues of the mind. This is a reductionist view on Soul issues. If you are seeking help with this, try to find a therapist who is holistic in their approach and will incorporate the Soul into their practice.
In my own therapy, I was able to explore some of the things that brought meaning to my life, such as being in Nature. I have also taken up writing as a way of trying to express my deeper self. In my private practice, I try to encourage my clients to find their own path to self /soul actualization. Rather than depending on the world to create it for them, I ask them to explore what they can do to fulfill their own needs.
Self-responsibility is a key to this journey! With time and work, they have found a way to express their soul-purposes in life through meaningful work, creativity, being in nature, helping others, and intimate relationships, to name a few.
This “soul therapy” can lead to a different way of being in Life.
I noticed that, when I started to live from this place, I saw things differently. I let go of people who were only interested in drama and I started to feel connected to people, place and things that brought meaning into my life.
When I feel disconnected, I notice that I start to feel depressed and empty again. This is a sign that change is needed, or that I got caught up in something that pulled me away from my purpose.
The important thing is this: find what is meaningful for you in your own life and live your life from that place. It may be difficult at first, but ask for support. There are people out there on their own paths, either going through, or have been through, these struggles. That “hole in your soul” could be filled with all of the things that make your life more meaningful – and joyful, too.