In an exquisitely written memoir, Tales from a Traveling Couch, psychotherapist Dr. Robert U. Akeret begins and ends with a basic thesis: Did my psychotherapy practice truly make a difference in my client’s lives?
With an in-depth exploration of five of his most memorable clients, Akeret takes readers through the trials and tribulations of each person, highlighting his approach during their therapy and discussing his choices throughout. By the end, having revisited each person and witnessing them firsthand in their present life circumstances, his conclusion is ambiguous: Probably, yes. There is evidence that therapy helped. But could Akeret “prove” that his therapy worked? Well, of course not. As with any experiential social science, there is no way to prove or disprove the validity of the practice, except to subjectively note “progress.”
As any psi practitioner will explain, receiving and sharing psychic information will never be an exact science, at least not with our current view of what “science” means. Information comes through in imagery, often symbolic, as well as in perceived sound, smell, taste, or a specific feeling. Because these senses are intrinsically subjective, a psychic should be thought of as an artist who, much like a painter or sculptor, is responding to a unique, personal experience of inspiration and insight.
One could never have asked Michaelangelo Buonarroti to prove that he was receiving energy in the form of artistic impulses while painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. He may not even have been aware that many of his ideas and choices were a direct result of channeling energy from a spiritual (or energy-related) source. The masterpiece speaks for itself. You can never ask a psychic to prove that they are responding to received energy during a reading. The accurate information (or information that proves to be accurate later on) speaks for itself.
The dividing line between psychotherapist and psychic is as arguable as the dividing line between attaining academic experience and real-world experience. This seems to beg the question: Why does mainstream society continue to view these practices as mutually exclusive?
Why is there such pressure to prove whether or not psychic information exists, when it has offered comfort and healing to innumerable people throughout history? If psychotherapy, an accepted mainstream practice, is unable to “prove” having helped anyone except for the client’s belief that the therapy has helped, how is this any different from an exchange of a decidedly “psychic” nature?
From an ethical standpoint, even if one believes that all psychics are either delusional or scam artists, does this matter if the client gains support and much-needed understanding? And, on the flip side, if someone continues to pay a therapist for sessions that have not demonstrated tangible progress, could not the client then also accuse the therapist of being a scam artist?
In a final analysis, if a person believes a psychic has helped him or her deal with an emotional issue, how is this different from believing a therapist has helped?
Even Dr. Akeret, a renowned doctor of psychology, explains toward the end of Traveling Couch that he has no way to know whether any of his clients’ improvements or remaining issues were a result of his therapy, or if any changes were simply a product of time passage or other unrelated factors.
Perhaps it is time to break down the psychic process the way Dr. Akeret and countless other therapist-authors have broken down the therapeutic process. If the overall goal for any therapist is to aid a client in understanding and managing psychological issues, let’s apply the same framework to the psychic “couch.”
Diagnosis versus Gnosis:
Upon visiting a psychologist or psychiatrist, what are the first questions asked? Generally there is an intake period, which will vary depending on the situation bringing the client in. A hospital situation is often more severe than a private practice situation, focused more on an immediate evaluation of the client’s physical safety and well-being. Either way, the first session or series of sessions are focused on the now: What brings you here?
During this period, the psychologist or psychiatrist utilizes his or her training to discern the salient parts of the client’s explanations and begins to formulate a working diagnosis of the client’s problem(s).
Ex. The client may be suffering from depression, as evidenced by lack of sleep, general lethargy, lack of motivation, and persistent drinking.
After a diagnosis has been made, the psychologist will determine a practical course to undertake based upon the client’s goals and expectations. Myriad paths may be undertaken.
Ex. The client is suffering from acute depression, despite saying she has never suffered from depression in the past. The recent death of her husband is a very evident contributor to the severity of her condition.
The psychiatrist will often do the same, although usually with the intention of adding a medicinal component. Medication may assist in correcting a potential chemical imbalance contributing to the client’s symptoms.
Upon visiting a psychic therapist, what may be the first questions asked? There may or may not be an intake period, since a psychic will often utilize information received without the client’s assistance. As of now, psychic therapists are not standard in emergency medical facilities, so it is almost always in a private practice or holistic center setting that a client is evaluated.
Diane, the recent widow:
Diane is 48, has two boys, 12 and 10, and lost her husband Barry nearly two months ago in a drunk-driving related car accident. Barry had begun drinking heavily a few months earlier, which Diane believed to be a direct result of losing his job of over 20 years. He refused to recognize the severity of his drinking, and shook off any of Diane’s suggestions to get help.
Since Barry’s death, Diane has been searching for work to no avail, as she had always been a devoted housewife and mother with little marketable skill in today’s competitive work force. She rarely sleeps, has been gaining weight from overeating, spends at least an hour a day crying, and has been taking anti-depressants for the past two months, prescribed by a psychiatrist she could only afford to visit once. Her boys require much of her time, and she has no family in the area to care for them. This morning, her 10-year-old son, Liam, told her that he had a dream about talking to his Dad, who wanted her to know he was sorry for 1-5-1.
“1-5-1? What do you think that number means?” she asked him. Liam shrugged, crying at his vivid memory of the dream.
A week went by, and she could not shake her son’s cryptic dream or the conviction with which he explained how real the conversation was.
She thinks about her appointment with the psychiatrist and her best friend Linda’s suggestion that she “bite the bullet” and spend the money to begin seeing a therapist. She makes an appointment with a well-respected psychologist in the area, and she has a very pleasant session.
The psychologist tells Diane that she is experiencing understandable symptoms of depression and anxiety disorder brought on by her husband’s death. Lack of sleep, bouts of crying, overeating — all classic symptoms of a grieving widow. Diane tells the psychologist about Liam’s dream and the cryptic message.
The psychologist explains that since children are especially sensitive to death, it is understandable that he would be having dreams about his father.
The psychologist praises her for being receptive and compassionate toward Liam, and says that these type of imagined conversations are a wonderful, healthy way to work out residual feelings about his relationship with his father.
“What do you think 1-5-1 could mean?” Diane asked.
“Oh, it could mean infinite things, Diane. He may have had a math problem he found difficult with ‘one hundred fifty-one’ as a solution or part of it. It could have been the address number of a house that stood out to him as he passed by on the school bus. Most of these memories become part of our subconscious and will resurface in ways we don’t expect,” the psychologist explained warmly. “More importantly, Diane, what do YOU think it could mean?”
“I have no idea. I know my husband died in a car accident off route 299, so that’s not it. And he died around 11:30 at night, so that has nothing to do with it. I just keep trying to link it to something, you know?” Diane pleaded.
“Of course. Anyone would be trying to make sense of it. But it’s important for you to realize that there probably is no sense in it, just as there is arguably no sense in most things we find difficult to accept. Either you take a spiritual approach and believe God or some divine force has a plan, or you find another way to deal with the loss. But as we continue to work, I’ll be able to give you ways to work through your feelings.
With this case study in mind, Diane seems destined for several months of therapy, focusing on practical ways to overcome her depression and assimilate the loss of her husband, while also keeping herself focused on raising her kids.
Now, let’s send Diane to an experienced Psychic Therapist instead:
Upon entering, the therapist asks Diane to spend a few moments meditating in a chair. This, she explains, will calm her mind and allow healing energy to come through. The therapist instructs Diane to open her eyes after a few moments. The therapist has explained to Diane that she does not wish her to say anything, only to be present. Diane has not told the therapist anything about herself at this point.
“I feel that your husband or boyfriend passed recently. Something with a ‘B’ maybe?”
Diane begins to tear up. “Yes, my husband. Barry.”
“I’m getting the impression the death was quick and unexpected. He wasn’t sick, was he?”
“No, you’re right,” Diane agrees. “He was in an accident.”
“I’m getting a blue car — does that makes sense to you?”
“No,” Diane replies. “He had a silver car.”
“Oh,” the therapist answers. “Was he hit by another car? I feel like it was a collision.”
“Yes,” Diane says. “A bl—oh wait! Yes, it was a blue Pontiac that him!”
“Okay, that makes sense then,” the therapist responds. “Did Barry do a lot of drinking?”
Diane simply nods, crying. “I kept telling him to get help, but he didn’t take me seriously.”
“Yes, that makes sense. I’m being shown a liquor bottle in a car, which makes me feel that his accident was the result of driving under the influence of alcohol.”
“Yes, you’re completely right,” Diane notes. “There’s actually something my son told me that I’d like to ask about.”
“Of course. Or perhaps I should receive a bit more, and then we’ll get into talking? Just in case there are any messages I can get to you first?”
“Sure, that’d be wonderful!” Diane says, her tears beginning to subside.
“I keep feeling that Barry’s incredibly sorry — he keeps showing me an image of throwing a liquor bottle against the wall.”
“Yes, that was me. I got so upset with him one night when the kids were out at a sleepover. He came home wasted, and I just grabbed the first bottle out of the liquor cabinet I could and threw it against the wall. It shattered all over the place, and we both spent the next hour cleaning up the glass before the kids would get home the next morning.”
“Okay. Because he was showing me this bottle with numbers on it. I can’t make out anything other than a 5.”
“A bottle with–wait a minute!” Diane interjects. “My son, the question I was going to ask you. He said that his father told him during a dream that he was sorry for 1-5-1. And now I know why,” Diane begins to cry again. “That was the bottle I threw against the wall — it was the Bacardi 151! Oh my god. Liam really was talking to him.”
“Yes, it’s not uncommon for children to have strong spiritual experiences, especially following the death of a parent or other family member. Children are especially sensitive to death, partly because they’re far more sensitive to spirit energy than adults. I’m thrilled that your husband was able to give you that validation now.”
“Through you,” Diane says, smiling as she wipes the tears off her face.
“Well, that’s what I’m here for. There’s nothing more healing than validation that our loved ones are always with us, even after death. And in my experience, many of my clients say they really can’t begin healing from their grief until they assimilate that.”
After her session, Diane realized two things:
1. Her husband, Barry, acknowledged and apologized to her and their children for the reckless behavior that contributed to his death.
2. She would not need to continue her sessions with the psychic therapist for nearly as long as she would her psychiatrist or a non-psychic therapist. The direct validation she has received has lifted an enormous weight off of her, and she already feels compelled to begin changing her current lifestyle choices to better suit herself and her boys.
From Diane’s story, we begin to learn that psychic information can truly help in the healing process as someone struggles to accept the death of a loved one. Rather than spending weeks or months in traditional psychotherapy, discussing related stories about her family and the ways in which her recent depression has manifested, Diane was able to go directly to the source of her recent depressive state: Guilt and anger at her husband’s death. And the only reason she could tap into the energy this directly was because of her therapist’s ability to channel her recently deceased husband.
In upcoming articles, I will expand this concept of psi co-therapy to include other psychological issues that can be helped through the transmission of psychic information.
First published on Adam’s blog, Paranormalyte, on June 10, 2013.