Saturday, March 12, 2011


Every year I get a magazine-size copy of the program for the annual national five-day Psychotherapy Networker Symposium, a glossy catalogue of the hundreds of seminars, workshops and symposiums offered there each year.

Some are intriguing, and could certainly be helpful to any counselor like myself, covering topics like dealing with borderline personality clients, overcoming compassion fatigue, understanding the anxious brain, etc. If only I could afford the the $500 or more registration fee, the pricey $200 plus per night rate for the hotel, and meals with after dinner speakers at $39-$62 a plate.

Then there are always descriptions of sessions that make me shake my head and wonder where my profession is going. For example, there is the seminar labeled “The Power of the Field,” in which participants are to be ushered into “a vaster, more liberating field of awareness,” and will be able to “experience feelings of aliveness, connection, creativity, and flow,” and “draw on the collective psycho-physiologically energetic field of the entire group, to experience a state of relaxed readiness and deeper intuition of this awareness.”

Or if that doesn’t induce enough puzzlement, there is another one on “integrating breathing techniques into psychotherapy.” Here we get to practice a variety of breath practices, including Qigong movement, Coherent Breathing, Breath movement, “Ha” breath, and Open Focus meditation.” At which I shake my head and ask, "What?"

I don’t begrudge anyone doing whatever meditation or breathing exercises they find helpful, but I question how how far we should stray from applying good research-based and faith-based common sense when it comes to offering help to people dealing with inner distresses and relationship problems.
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