Spiritual Crisis and Spiritual Emergency
Since psychic and spiritual experiences have been pooh-poohed in our culture—to the point we have considered talking to God as a sign of psychosis?-most people are scared of them. But when people get the right kind of support, they find the experiences to be positively transformative! The process of integration, or “spiritual emergence,” brings profound satisfaction.
Examples of psychic or spiritual experiences are hearing the voices of angels, receiving spiritual guidance from an unseen being, intuiting the future, remembering an event as if it was a past life, or accurately sensing a medical problem in a stranger without any technology or even a conversation with the person. If anyone starts to have any of these experiences—they typically are afraid they are going crazy. They also fear friends and family will think they are nuts, so they don’t reveal what’s going on.
At the very least any of these situations may throw a person into questioning: “Is this real? What should I do with this information? Why do I know this but other’s don’t?”
Frequently, the experiencer tries to find a way to shut down the sensitivity and the psychic experience by drinking alcohol, going to the mall, over-eating, over-working, or some other distraction.
However, for some, the gift of psychic abilities is such a strong part of his or her nature, that pushing the gifts away leads to deeper disturbances– including profound depression, addiction, inability to sleep, and even what appear to be psychotic or manic episodes.
Accepting the gifts, i.e. learning about them, finding peers who offer support and fellowship, and finding a mentor to acquire skills to harness the gifts, is not a sign of going crazy. On the contrary, it is a sign of taking steps to greater wellbeing as well as the satisfaction of being of service to others wellbeing through doing some kind of healing work.
Where to go for support?
William James, PhD, MD, often called the father of American psychology, encouraged all doctors to accept that psychic experiences are part of being human. Unfortunately, his sage advice did not lead to doctors and nurses being educated to be competent in supporting those people who were disoriented by psychic experiences. Instead, they are taught to consider the experiences as most likely a component of a mental disorder.
Fortunately, there are “Spiritual Emergence Coaches” now being certified by IMHU to support those who are dealing with the phenomena of spiritual emergence, aka spiritual emergency. IMHU’s International Directory has contact information for peer support coaches who lead support groups as well as professional therapists who are qualified to give one on one consultations.
IMHU specializes in a series of courses that focus on aspects of spiritual emergence. A brief free course, “Spiritual Emergency: What is it?” is available by clicking here. Thirteen other courses which empower individuals and their therapists to cope with phenomena related to spiritual emergence are available by clicking here. Five online live webinars on “How to Effectively Support Someone in Spiritual Emergency” are available by clicking here.
Emma Bragdon, PhD
Dr. Bragdon is Founder/Director of Integrative Mental Health for You. She was licensed as a psychotherapist in 1988. She has also been teaching, authoring books, and producing films since the early 1990s. She was a volunteer at the Spiritual Emergency Network (SEN) for 7 years, coordinated two conferences for SEN in 1985, and was asked to publish two of the first books on Spiritual Emergency shortly thereafter. She is the instructor for the 5 online webinars mentioned above. See EmmaBragdon.com, or contact Emma at EB@IMHU.org.
Sculpture pictured above is by Paige Bradley (paigebradley.com)