Humanistic psychologist Rollo May wrote a book entitled “we have had 100 years of psychotherapy and we are only getting sicker”. The field of psychology treats psychological problems from the general perspective that there is an illness that needs to be diagnosed and treated. Having stated that, it is important to point out that in offering treatment, psychotherapists develop a skill set that includes empathy, problem solving skills, goal setting, summarizing and alleviating the suffering caused by psychological illness.
Spiritual Guidance uses much of the same skill sets, but has a distinct orientation. The highly developed guide may be difficult to distinguish from a psycholtherapist. But the primary orientation of the spiritual guide/director is not toward treating illness. In fact the spiritual guide/director sees psychological stressors as a calling. A calling to turn towards the client’s (not patient’s) essential nature. Part and parcel of this essential nature is the source of divine in each of us: the human soul.
The latin root for the word psyche meant soul. In our contemporary culture psyche is thought of as mind. Many introductory courses in psychology are referred to as a introduction to the science of psychology. A distinction from this is that spiritual guidance makes effort to reclaim soul as a core focus. The soul speaks in images, and thusly is more accessible via the arts: poetry, story, music, drama, movement (such as yoga), somatics, painting, etc. The soul is more cyclical and feminine in nature. It marks its progress like the moon. It’s regressions and progressions are interwoven in a way that is counter to the productive orientation of contemporary western culture. This essential waxing and waning of the soul is accounted for in the essence of spiritual guidance. The aforementioned arts are used to provide access to soul and turning towards this essence enables spiritual guidance to emerge as a distinct practice. This practice attempts to connect difficult, limited or fractured experiences with the unlimited source of a greater reality.