“An extraordinary experience can be an ally or an enemy. Whether we advance or retreat…depends on an act of our imagination, on the way we see the pattern, on the meaning we take from the experience.”
-Michael Grosso (Frontiers of the Soul)
*HAVE YOU EXPERIENCED SOMETHING THAT APPEARS TO DEFY CONVENTIONAL EXPLANATION? HAS IT ALTERED YOUR PERCEPTION OF REALITY, CAUSING YOU TO QUESTION YOUR SANITY OR THE MEANING/PURPOSE OF YOUR LIFE?
*HAVE YOU SPONTANEOUSLY ACQUIRED [OR ACTIVELY CULTIVATED] HEIGHTENED INTUITIVE- PSYCHIC- MEDIUMISTIC- ENERGETIC, OR OTHER SPIRITUAL HEALING CAPACITIES? ARE YOU HAVING TROUBLE DISCERNING, INTEGRATING, OR APPROPRIATING THESE GIFTS?
*HAVE YOU FAITHFULLY PURSUED SPIRITUAL PRACTICES ONLY TO FIND THE SAME OLD ISSUES PREVENTING YOU FROM MANIFESTING YOUR FULL POTENTIAL?
*ARE YOU UNSURE IF YOU’RE HAVING A BREAKDOWN OR A BREAKTHROUGH AND COULD USE REAL HELP, BUT FEAR BEING MISUNDERSTOOD, LABELED, OR JUDGED?
*ARE YOU A MENTAL HEALTH OR ALLIED PROFESSIONAL TRYING TO HELP SOMEONE WITH SOMETHING POTENTIALLY EXTRAORDINARY AND NEED CLARITY AND GUIDANCE?
Where traditional psychotherapy meets outside the box (psycho-spiritual/metaphysical/transpersonal/parapsychological) experience, Support for Extraordinary Experience (S.E.E.) was conceived to help people through the types of non-ordinary/paradigm-shifting phenomenon commonly misunderstood, stigmatized and/or pathologized by mainstream psychology.
Private, 1:1 individualized consultation, therapeutic, exploratory, and referral services are available for those undergoing any and all potentially **SPIRITUALLY TRANSFORMATIVE EXPERIENCES (STEs).
Services such as:
Need help facing and clarifying what you’ve experienced? This is where to begin. Typically 1-6 sessions (more if needed), consultation focuses on thorough assessment, differential discernment (i.e. what is what? what may or may not have happened/be happening? what’s needed, etc), conceptualization (what does the experience mean?) and normalization of experience. For distance clients via phone or secure video or in-person clients not requiring or desiring a deeper level of care.
Have a basic grasp on what you’ve experienced but need to process through it? Psycho-spiritually-oriented counseling, usually once p/week utilizing a brief therapy model, builds on the goal of consultation with an emphasis on strengths-based adjustment and coping skills and initial consolidation & integration of experience. For in-person clients.
Experiencing significant distress/unwanted symptoms related to your experiences? Prior issues flaring up in the aftermath? Barely hanging on? S.E.E. and traditional clinical psychotherapy converge here in intensive integrative therapy for pre-existing trauma/unresolved conflicts, fears, worries, and/or attachment ruptures— to help foster maximum STE integration and improve optimal overall psycho-social functioning. For in-person clients only.
*N.O.S.C. EXPLORE (“Psi-Co-Therapy”):
(*Non-Ordinary States of Consciousness)
“When higher intelligence speaks, wisdom listens.” Receiving information/messages? Hearing (non-punitive/non-persecutorial) voices? Experiencing visions?… Got psi? N.O.S.C. EXPLORE (“Psi-Co-Therapy”) is where parapsychological principles, transpersonal thinking, burgeoning psychic potential, and consciousness exploration meet in a relational therapeutic context. After thorough assessment to determine stability and readiness, and where mediumistic faculty is apparent, participant-observer “sitting”/holding space is offered for organic practice and development of trance/mediumistic communication/channeling (or other similar psychical modes)– within the safety of a protective, clinically-supervised, open-minded & hearted space. Process can be aided by guided imagery/visualization, progressive relaxation, etc as needed. With follow up debriefing/processing and integration. Not a “how-to” as much as “set the stage, declare intention, turn inward and see what happens.” For in person clients only.
*ADJUNCT HEALING SERVICES:
Need complementary healing and integration work? S.E.E. is ever-establishing synergistic relationships with practitioners both local and beyond to aid in the healing and growth process of individuals undergoing STEs. Examples would be holotropic breathwork, bodywork, authentic shamans/shamanic energy healers, medical intuitives, integrative/holistic psychiatry, naturopathic physicians, dietitians, evidential psychic mediums, energetic home clearers, and support groups for individuals encountering the extraordinary.
*CONSULTATION FOR PROFESSIONALS:
Are you a psychotherapist, mental health counselor or other alternative/allied health professional or coach working with someone in the throes of an STE? Need guidance, support, direction, or just a fresh perspective? Professional consultation is available via phone, secure video or in-person.
**What are Spiritually Transformative Experiences?
“There are no miracles that violate the laws of nature, only events that violate our limited knowledge of the laws of nature”
A potentially Spiritually Transformative Experience (pSTE) is any non-ordinary event or experience that profoundly impacts an individual’s perception of themselves and the world– by expanding the person’s identity and augmenting their sensitivities, often permanently altering one’s values, priorities, and fundamental view on the meaning and purpose of life. And these are not things only experienced by a small minority. A 2004 survey by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago, 35.7% of the adult US population has had at least one religious or spiritual experience “that changed their life.” A 1979 study by the Buddhist teacher Jack Kornfield found that 40% of participants on a two-week meditation retreat reported unusual experiences such as rapture and visions. Kornfield states: “From our data it seems clear that the modern psychiatric dismissal of so-called “mystical” and altered states as psychopathology… is simply due to the limitations of the traditional Western psychiatric mental-illnesses oriented model of the mind.”
Such phenomena, when experienced, and without the right help, can lead to difficulty discerning whether one is breaking down, breaking through (or both). If one’s ego was healthy and functional before the crisis, a temporary breakdown just may need time and support to become a breakthrough. From a transpersonal (beyond the personal, or beyond the “mask”) perspective, many experiences– depression, anxiety, mania and other extreme states in particular– can be viewed as the psyche’s efforts toward spiritual emergence, and the soul’s quest for depth, meaning and wholeness. Ultimately, STEs are invitations to let go of unconscious patterns and remember our vast, collective, and unitive connection with the all that is. As with many things, it depends largely on how the experience is conceptualized and approached.
Many STEs- in that their outward expression can resemble [and be easily mistaken for] symptoms of psychosis- sometimes leads to counterproductive intervention with psych drugs and hospitalization by mainstream medical/psychiatric professionals. Orthodox religious counselors and church leaders as well are known to misinterpret signs and symptoms of STEs for mental illness, referring for psychiatric evaluation– thus creating a feedback loop of inadvertent misdiagnosis and mistreatment.
Modern consciousness research and the field of transpersonal psychology shows that when correctly understood and supported, episodes of non-ordinary/extreme states can be healing, transformative, evolutionary, and serve as invaluable sources of paradigm-breaking information about consciousness, the human psyche and the broader nature of reality. There is an ever-growing need to focus on the spiritual aspects of a crisis– to learn more about the triggers that induce it and the factors that turn a spiritual experience into distress, as well as expand our knowledge of these often misunderstood aspects of a psychological crisis and advocate for a more open-minded, attuned response.
S.E.E. exists for these reasons.
“The greatest blessings come by way of madness, provided that madness is given by divine gift.”
There are many types and names for experiences that share common features and act as catalysts for spiritual transformation, such as:
-Spiritual Emergency/Emergence (Grof,1980)
-Near-Death Experience (NDE) (Moody, 1975)
-Out-of-Body Experiences (OBE) (Tyrell, 1943)
-Shamanic Calling/Initiatory Crisis
-Pre-Birth Memories/Past-Life Recall, Nearing Death Awareness (NDA)
-After-Death Communications (ADC) (Guggenheim, 1997)
-Communication with Spirits or Spirit Guides
-Psychic Opening/Expressions (Precognition/premonition, extra sensory perceptions, psychometry, the “clairs,” somnambulism, automated writing/creativity, glossolalia, trance channeling/mediumship, etc)
-Episodes of Unitive/Cosmic Consciousness (Bucke, 1901)/Peak Experience (Maslow, 1964)/Exceptional Human Experiences (EHE) (White, 1993)
-Close Encounter/”Experiencer” Phenomena and Associated Anomalous Trauma
-Other possibly Mystical/Super-Normal/Parapsychological or Synchronistic Experiences (SE’s), Illuminations or Hierophanies (breakthroughs of the sacred or ‘supernatural’ into the world) (Eliade, 1957)
“There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than dreamt of in your philosophy”
STEs include or may also be considered numinous, noetic, ineffable, sublime, transcendent, transpersonal, mystical, religious, shamanic, sacred, anomalous, psychical, paranormal/supernormal, parapsychological, preternatural, mysterium tremendum, wholly other, or ecstatic experiences.
Some non-ordinary states/experiences are sought through meditation, yoga, ceremonial entheogen (psychoactive sacred plant medicines) use, ritual dance or drumming, holotropic/shamanic breathwork, sensory deprivation, or intensive or prolonged prayer/genuflection, or other spiritual or religious practices. Experiences can (and do) happen spontaneously, arise out of near-death situations, severe or prolonged illness, acute distress, crisis, other anomalous trauma, or during emotionally heightened events such as childbirth, deep ecstasy or acute grief. They may also occur during dreams or sexual activity. These and other similar experiences are particularly effective inducers of the mystical.
Many experiences involve being out of one’s body and/or and immersion into a different or more lucid reality. Features may include visions or communications with deceased loved ones, religious figures, God, the light, angels, beings of light, or other energetic/nonphysical beings. They often engender a profound feeling of peace, love, compassion or forgiveness, sometimes containing messages, guidance, premonitions, or reviews of one’s life. Some experiences can be frightening or deeply distressing.
STEs can be catalysts for permanent, dramatic changes and ultimately, positive transformation. But many involve difficult challenges before integration is complete. For this reason individuals in the midst of STEs can benefit greatly from safely processing these experiences in the context of an affirming and non-judgmental therapeutic partnership and space. Working through preexisting trauma, significant inner conflicts, neurosis or other psycho-emotional disharmony can be essential to healthy incorporation of the healing potential of STEs, and can provide an explanatory narrative with respect to events or dynamics that may have set the stage for STE’s. Research in fact shows correlation between anomalistic experiences and early childhood trauma, which in some instances may serve as a predisposing condition for actual anomalous events.
S.E.E. can also help individuals steer clear or work out of common pitfalls (isolation, consensus reality-informed denial, ego inflation, punitive humility, confirmation biases, spiritual bypassing, illuminism) to healthy integration– defined in this sense as opening up ego consciousness to previously hidden parts of the psyche. Developing a heightened awareness of these barriers/trappings reduces the likelihood of psycho-emotional disintegration/fragmentation as the psyche strikes for balance on the heels of contact with the extraordinary.
“Meaning makes a great many things endurable, perhaps everything. Through the creation of meaning … a new cosmos arises.”
-C. G. Jung
Chris Hancock, LCSW is a licensed psychotherapist in good standing in the state of Tennessee (#4504). He is a verified mental health provider for the Foundation for Excellence in Mental Health Care (FEMHC), a member of the Academy of Spiritual and Consciousness Studies (ASCS), the Afterlife Education and Research Institute, Inc (afterlifeinstitute.org), a clinical member of the Spiritual Emergence Network (SEN-USA) and the American Center for the Integration of Spiritually Transformative Experiences (ACISTE). In addition to many years in community mental health, outpatient psychiatry and addictions settings, and in private psychotherapy practice since 2007, from 2013 to 2017 he served as the psychotherapist for the Tennessee chapter of Starborn Support, a national organization for experiencers of exceptionally extraordinary phenomena. Chris practiced Insight Meditation in NYC throughout graduate school, was later initiated into Kriya Yoga by Paramahansa Prajnananda of the contemporary Kriya Yoga lineage. In 2006, while in India, he participated in an event that produced such profoundly visceral phenomena that whatever vestiges of doubt remained as to the existence of an alternate transcendent reality [not governed by our physical laws[ instantaneously dissolved. He also had a numinous experience during a prayerful meditation in 2011 where a transmission of Divine love and encouragement was audibly received. Perhaps what started it all was a powerful hands-on healing of acute pain while in hospital by a shamanically-endowed minister following an operation as a child. Professionally, inspired by the works of Aldous Huxley, Psychotherapist Carl Jung, Mythologist Joseph Campbell, Consciousness Researcher/Psychologist Jeffery Mishlove, Transpersonal Psychiatrist Stanislav Grof, Parapsychologists Charles Tart and Stanley Krippner, and the late Harvard Psychiatrist Dr. John E. Mack, M.D. (and others), S.E.E. was launched as a way to assist individuals attempting to make meaning of their experiences on the “outer banks” of reality (as best we can perceive it). All this said, he is no guru, no savior, master, minister, shaman, alchemist, exorcist, psychic, medium, astrologer, spoon bender, snake charmer, soothsayer, sorcerer, conjurer, ghost hunter, demonologist, voodoist, hoodooist, pagan, mystic, monk, yogi, bodhisattva, starseed, philosopher, scientist, quantum physicist, visionary, curandero, or any kind of enlightened being. And Lord knows, no saint! Just a fellow seeker, an extroverted introvert, wounded healer-type psychotherapist, and an incurably curious “possibilist,” driven to remain loyal to his own soul by reaching toward the edges of the etheric, into the mysterium. This will likely remain the case until whatever end his karmic path or Universal Mind has in store.
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