Throughout the past year, we have reveled in the excitement of bringing this important initiative to life. Now, with over 200 practitioners around the world, the Alternative Therapists Directory is quickly becoming recognized by both professionals and help-seekers alike.
As a member of ATD, you have an opportunity that no other professional directory is willing to offer. Your listing is yours. We want your words, your images, your videos, and your unique practice to inhabit its own space. Unlike Psychology Today and other “conventional” directories, we ensure that you have complete freedom to represent your practice in the way you feel is most helpful, as well as the opportunity to interact with your colleagues.
Recently, I spoke with a member who was incredibly excited because just by posting a well-written article on our blog, a therapist in her area was sending his clients to her listing to read. This kind of mutual respect and acknowledgement of a colleague’s special approach or wisdom is the foundation of our efforts. It isn’t about “beating out the competition” to be the most credentialed, most published, or most highly paid practitioner. It’s about knowing the value of your own abilities to help others, and embracing the learning and advancement that comes from sharing with like-minded people.
-Adam A. Neal, Managing Director
Alternative Therapists Directory
Spotlight: ATD Interview
Jenny Sieck, M.A., Min.
ATD: What type(s) of therapy do you practice?
JS: I have my masters in Counseling Psychology with an emphasis in Depth Psychology. However, I call myself an intuitive therapist. Learning to follow my intuition was an integral part of my own journey. I feel that a lot of people really struggle with this in their lives. We are bombarded daily by so much, and so many types of cultural conditioning. We get so many messages about what we SHOULD do — in this cultural bubble it can be easy to stop listening to our own intuition.
I want to help people connect with their intuition and honor their intuitive story. TIme and again I have seen the great entranceways into this intuitive story, the one that lives just below the surface of our conscious awareness ; it is in our connection with dreams, our connection with nature and the elements. I believe it is found in our unique creativity and birthed when we choose more creative ways of living . I help people recapture that story and then re-story their lives based upon what their intuition is telling them. And if it is something different, then we work with that too.
I have a Masters in Counseling — from Pacifica. Graduate Institute. It is a unique counseling program that emphasized a depth approach to Psychology. The works of Jung, Freud, Campbell, and the realm of myth and story were honored and spoken into being. Archetypal Psychology helps us look at archetypes or patterns that influence our lives. This helps us become more conscious about how we are choosing to live our lives.
ATD: How did you go about finding training? Mentors?
JS: When I was younger, an undergrad, I started really listening to my intuition, and I started doing intuitive tarot readings in my community. I started wondering about what made intuition work. At Pacifica we were blessed to have a whole year of practice on how to actively listen — most counseling programs don’t give you that kind of training. Listening with a third ear” is easier to do in a depth environment. In this approach there’s id strong focus on mirroring the client. Closely tracking the client is a lot like following their train of thought, connecting with what’s in their heart. It requires you sometimes to be just a little behind or ahead of them…but just ever so slightly. I think a lot of counselors can run the risk of trying to “fix” things — nothing really needs to be fixed. It’s just a question of listening more closely. And helping them feel truly heard, without judgment. Then they can, and do, do the rest.
I had many professors at Pacifica who were instrumental in getting me to listen more closely to what my calling was, as opposed to my vocation. This is simply a very sacred and heart centered way of approaching your life’s work. I will admit my internship was not the best experience. I think many can relate. I was working with an offender population. It was a very cognitive-behavioral type of program. While this is often a good way to go with this type of client, one also has to see the humanity in them. And separate the behavior from the person. Sadly, this was severely lacking. Often basic empathy and compassion was as well. One mentor in my program was really able to get across to me that I didn’t do anything wrong. And that I needed to look at the environment that I found myself in. I am truly grateful for his wisdom and kindness.
Eventually it became clear that I was meant to be in private practice. I don’t know that I would’ve been able to gain that perspective so clearly, if I didn’t have the kind of support Pacifica and the teachers there provided.
I had a client tell me that their previous clinician told them a big part of their problem was that they weren’t “more religious.” I think a lot of more mainstream therapists don’t ask questions, about who their client truly is. Often creating an environment where the questions can breathe is so much more important than answering them. When we do that I have found that people end up deeply valuing their own way of being and growing in the world.
ATD: How long do sessions usually take?
JS: An hour, sometimes an hour and a half.
Usually people buy packages of the services I offer. Of course the first few sessions are about getting the story from the client, similar to traditional therapy. This helps them reflect on what they believe. It also gives me a sense through the telling, of whether they are truly telling the story for themselves. Once I have this piece, I work on tailoring the program to meet the client’s needs. Some people are really drawn to the intuitive tarot work, some like Reiki and a more kinesthetic connection, and some people like chakra work because they love the power and beauty of coloring. If they have limiting belief’s hypnotherapy ids a great place to start. It gets right into the unconscious. As you can see, all of these approaches help psyche tell the story of who they are to me, but more importantly–who they have been and wish to be for themselves.
So you see, the program is truly geared to the client and the pieces they want to explore. And I do that in combination with talk therapy as well. All these modalities have their place. I really believe in switching the session up — changing the modality so it’s really tailor made all the way through.
ATD: What is the most transformative experience of therapy you’ve had, either as a practitioner or as a client?
JS: I had a client who was really struggling with motivation — seriously struggling — with their own identity. Feeling forsaken by God, complex stuff. This person really wanted to go into an artistic field, but felt like they couldn’t do that and they didn’t have a right to do it. We worked on some chakra mapping, elemental energy balancing, different techniques that seemed to speak to them. When they came to me, they were barely leaving the house, and definitely nor socially. And I helped them to recognize that although there was no shame in that it truly limited their ability to move toward their dreams. Well, they were able to go into a specialized musical program, and now they’re reaping the benefits of that. Sometimes we get isolated and started imagining that the container i we find ourselves in is normal, and that it is we who are not deserving. However, with many of my clients we come to find that this is the wrong space for them to be in. It just doesn’t fit the dreams they have for themselves. I didn’t know what that this person had gone on and gotten onto the program of their dreams until he sent me an e-mail a year or so later just to check in. I wouldn’t be surprised if one day we’re listening to his concertos.
ATD: If you weren’t practicing as a therapist, what else do you think you’d be doing?
JS: Well, I’m also a jewelry designer, so I have managed to make some of my artistic dreams come true as well. I design jewelry intuitively for people — some people come to me and they want a design based on astrological signs or sacred numbers, and some people say look at my picture, read my energy, and I’ll work directly from that.
ATD: What prompted you to join the Alternative Therapists Directory?
JS: I was on Psychology Today but people kept asking about insurance — which I don’t take. Anyway, It’s wonderful to see ATD branch out and ask these types of questions — and really cater to different kinds of therapists. I actually practice with a ministerial license. That route allowed me to more clearly speak to folks who were looking for a more psycho-spiritual approach to counseling. Here in Columbus, Ohio, where I’m from, a managed care model tends to rule the field. But I’d say even that is changing. Because of this choice I made, Psychology Today wasn’t willing to “verify” me. I wrote to them but got no response. In that kind of a directory it’s easy to get lost among a sea of sameness.
There wasn’t really a place where I could shine — and clearly say — this is what I do. And there definitely wasn’t a place where clients could do that either. So I am so grateful for this directory.
Why Does My Back Hurt?
Michele Lowenthal, M.A., M.H.C.
Back pain is ubiquitous. Nearly everyone experiences it some time in his or her life. We all know someone who is on Social Security Disability because of back pain. Doctors are inundated with patients in constant pain and generally send them for MRIs to ascertain the cause. Anything seen on the MRI that seems to look abnormal tends to be labeled as the source of the trouble. Many sufferers are advised to get cortisone shots or are sent to physical therapy for relief. Some undergo multiple surgical interventions while others become dependent on pain medications. Many decide to go for chiropractic adjustments or acupuncture. Then, there is the burgeoning industry devoted exclusively to back pain, offering comfort items such as cushions, chairs, mattresses, heating devices, orthotics and more. Most instances of back pain resolve over time. Nevertheless, back pain tends to reappear.
In the 1970’s, John Sarno, MD, a Professor of Rehabilitation Medicine at the New York University School of Medicine, began to realize that the location of pain his patients were exhibiting, such as herniated or slipped disks, did not seem to correlate to the diagnoses they had been given. He began talking to his patients about what was going on in their lives, and as they confided in him, he started to see a pattern emerge, that possibly their pain might be related to the stresses of life. As he shared his findings with his patients, many began to recover. He did not fully understand at the time the physical mechanism of how emotions create pain but he was certain there was a connection. He called the condition TMS, Tension Myositis Syndrome, because he believed the condition affected the muscles. He later came to understand that TMS could also affect tendons and nerves as well the gastrointestinal system, skin and other parts and systems of the body.
The idea that the mind can create such horrific pain is difficult to accept. It is intuitive to believe that something manifesting physically means there is something physically wrong. Most people believe that if they had an injury to the area in the past, the pain they are now experiencing is due to that old injury. Many patients are quite insulted, thinking we are saying that the pain is made up or “all in their head.” The pain is excruciatingly real. According to Dr. Sarno, close to 80% of pain we develop is emotionally based but felt physically. This is a very difficult concept for many sufferers to accept. They have had an MRI or x-ray and the doctor has given them a diagnosis. Consequently, a good percentage of sufferers tend not to accept a TMS diagnosis.
Our spines tend to change as we age and what looks abnormal in a scan may very well be a “normal abnormality”, a term coined by Dr. Sarno. He explains that our hair turning gray is normal as we age. Our spines undergo physical changes as well that may or may not have anything to do with pain.
The true purpose of pain is to keep our emotionally painful thoughts from coming to consciousness. Sometimes we are triggered in the present by an unconscious memory from the past. If this memory or emotion is very difficult to bear, our brain will distract us quickly with the best preoccupation there is: physical pain. When we are in pain, we become extremely focused on how to get relief from the physical pain and our emotional pain is pushed to the background. The usual emotional culprits are intense anger and fear, although there are quite a few other issues that may be considered, such as low self-esteem or psychological trauma. In addition, a person with certain personality traits such as perfectionism or people-pleasing tend to be more likely to experience chronic pain. It is important to note that we do not have to change our personality to become pain-free; we just need to be aware of the traits that are complicit.
While I believe that physicians, physical therapists, chiropractors and other practitioners are sincere in the treatments they provide and truly want to help their patients, they have unfortunately convinced their patients into believing they have incurable injuries or malformations. Once a patient has a diagnosis, he or she becomes conditioned to having the symptoms of that diagnosis. They become conditioned to pain at certain times of the day and while in certain positions. The patient feels disabled and lives that way. They are told how to lift or not to lift at all, how to bend, sit, what sleep positions to use and not use, and what physical activities to stay away from because they could damage their backs. We are often told our backs are fragile or out of alignment, and that is why we are in pain and need treatments to correct this. All of these treatments are temporary because eventually we will experience the pain again and return for more treatments, shots, medications, or surgeries. Unfortunately, the real culprit for the pain is ignored by most professionals.
I work with those clients who are able to believe there is an emotional connection to their pain. I require that each client first be examined by a physician to rule out any evident physical conditions, as not all pain is due to TMS. There may be tumors, fractures or cancers causing pain in a small percentage of cases. My goal is to help the client to understand the stresses and emotions in the present and past that are contributing to the pain. Once the client can allow those repressed feelings to emerge to consciousness and make peace with them, there is no longer any purpose for the pain.
Other conditions that fall under the same umbrella as back pain are Fibromyalgia, neck, shoulder, knee, arm and leg pain. Please visit my website, backpaincounseling.com for a more complete listing of TMS conditions.
Sarno, J. (1991). Healing back pain: The mind-body connection. New York, NY: Warner Books.
Prairie Medicine, Of Another Kind…
Charles Reinert, PhD
During the Nixon/Kennedy presidential campaign of 1960, the vice president was defending his hardscrabble political history:
“I want you to know that I got here the long, hard way!”
JFK responded, “It seems that I came in sideways..”
My metamorphosis from physics into healthcare was also a sideways journey.
Although I was born a Minnesota farm boy, allergies convinced me that farming was not for me. A college degree would allow me to teach science, but the human mind was a greater attraction. Of the shelves which drew me while browsing through the stacks in the university’s Walter Library, the scant space allocated to parapsychology was the most fascinating. Physics could help me to design a bridge and earn a living, but the mind and body held more intrigue than could Newton’s laws or Maxwell’s equations. I devoured accounts of the pioneering ESP work at Duke by J.B. and Louisa Rhine and wondered how it all worked. I remained sufficiently focused to graduate a few years later with a PhD (astrophysics, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, 1969) and hired on to teach university level physics for the paycheck.
I began my physics career as a strict disciplinarian. The students were not happy. Then one day a student dropped by my office with a highlighted article from a travel magazine. It described the “accelerative learning” techniques of Bulgarian psychiatrist Georgi Lozanov. Lozanov found that he could speed his students’ acquisition of foreign languages by two-fold or more by incorporating games, music, stories and relaxation into the classroom experience. Could this work for physics? I caught the first plane to Silver Springs, Maryland for a short course in Lozanov’s “Suggestopedia” and came back pumped. The stuffy desks were superseded by beanbag chairs, carpeting and baroque music. The students loved it, the faculty were suspicious, and the administration searched for excuses to relieve me of my post.
In the journey toward excellence in teaching, I became aware that I was morphing into more of a “learning coach” than a lecturer, and the veil of separation between student and professor grew ever thinner. Students freely shared their personal problems — sometimes with relationships, sometimes with health issues. Jeannie, a blind student with brittle diabetes and a guide dog named Wallaby phoned me one afternoon:
“Dr. Reinert, can you help me? I’m losing my kidneys!” Having passed my general physics course, perhaps she thought, “He seems smart. Maybe….?” I knew even less about healing in those days than I know today, but I worked with her. In the process, I arranged for her to have a session with Mietek Wirkus, a talented Polish energy healer who had been well vetted through his work with researchers at the Menninger Clinic, then of Topeka, Kansas. I stared with fascination as Mietek worked with Jeannie absent of any physical touch, using only his hands and his “subtle energies” within a 5 inch thick layer of space surrounding her body. Mietek helped Jeannie, although he may have helped me more — a year later I was with him, learning to be a subtle energy healer. I was then invited to join the advanced class in Bethesda, Maryland. On my return to Minnesota, neighbors began coming for relief of sore knees and muscles. I took further energy training with Chinese qigong master Chun Yi Lin, learned EFT with developer Gary Craig of California and Tam Lewelleyn-Edwards of the UK, studied clinical hypnosis with Kevin Hogan, and completed a classical naturopathy degree at the Clayton College of Natural Health. With a Laotian qigong master as a colleague, I opened a storefront clinic in Tracy, Minnesota, 30 miles from the nearest traffic light, and we began our serious work.
We’ve now been in our two story facility for nearly ten years, treating clients with conditions ranging from allergies to brain cancer, autoimmune disease to thyroid conditions, and using the tools of Chinese medicine, hypnosis, energy psychology, energetic healing, nutrition, massage, yoga and a bit more. We seem to occupy a niche for folks who have lost patience with allopathic medicine. Emotional issues are resolved with EFT, hypnosis and Tai Chi. Detox is done with sauna and oral chelation. Tools for physical conditions include qigong, Reiki, massage and BodyTalk.
We take special interest in assisting cancer recovery, especially with patients who have NOT received much chemotherapy or radiation. We use the immune strengthening protocols of Sir Arnold Takemoto, plus gentle strategies we’ve developed in hypnosis, imagery, nutrition, hyperthermia, qigong and meditation.
Patient appointments run one to two hours; we can’t do much in eight minutes. Here’s how I think about what we do:
* I once believed that I was in control of my Life path. Now I seem guided by gentle but unyielding tethers from a Source of Universal Wisdom. I’ve seldom been “assigned” a patient whom I could not help. If I had not yet learned enough to be helpful, then our paths simply didn’t cross until I had learned what I needed to know.
* Patients who come with a physical condition (e.g. heart disease) often come with a closely associated emotional condition (e.g. anger). Louise Hay’s wisdom in her You Can Heal Your Life (Hay House 1984) rings true for me.
* Emotional issues tend to heal rapidly, with the aid of hypnosis, forgiveness and my own version of EFT. Sometimes, once the emotional issues have been dealt with, there’s not much left to fix.
Amber Adams, M.F.A., G.C.F.P.
Re-establishing Safe Boundaries Through Touch
When she was 5 years old, Jamie* had brain surgery to remove a benign tumor the size of a golf ball. Her mother brought her to me when she was 11, to address lingering motor-skill challenges. In the 6 years since her surgery, she’d been in and out of hospitals and doctors’ offices constantly, had over 50 MRIs, and countless hours of various types of therapies. Many of these experiences were frightening, uncomfortable, or even painful. Not surprisingly, she seemed rather suspicious when she first met me, and refused to let me touch her. Why wouldn’t she be suspicious? Even when therapy or medical procedures were painful or scary, she had to submit to them because her health depended on it. For more than half her life (and almost all of her conscious memory), she’d never been allowed to set boundaries about who touched her body…or when, how, and where.
It’s easy to forget how medical procedures can impact someone’s sense of boundaries.
Especially for children, who are too young to fully understand what’s happening to them, and are given no choice in the matter. All decisions are made by adults, not by themselves. They experience a long string of involuntary, often unpleasant physical contact. A child in this situation quickly learns that they’re not allowed to say “no,” and that other people are to be trusted with the decisions of what’s best for them and their body.
Unlike other traumas, in these medical situations the parents and doctors are caring people taking vital steps that ensure the child’s survival. Yet it is equally important to consider the resulting impact on the child’s experience of himself and his body, and to make every effort to give the child an additional, opposite experience—one where he’s empowered to sense and choose his own boundaries for his own body.
But how exactly does one figure out where one’s boundaries are?
How do you know when a boundary is approached, or even passed? If your personal history hasn’t permitted you to establish your own boundaries, you are often unable to sense that a boundary has been passed until you’re miles beyond it.
The Feldenkrais Method® offers a safe and tangible way to explore boundaries.
The very foundation of the Feldenkrais Method® is built upon learning to sense—both in yourself and in another—where a boundary first begins in your sensory perception. Not where the maximum threshold is, but where the tiniest, subtlest discomfort first begins. For those who never learned to sense and honor their own physical boundaries, this process is absolutely crucial. Without the ability to sense this level of subtlety, they’ll find themselves far into the “pain” zone before even realizing a boundary was crossed. The key to establishing healthy boundaries is to learn to sense when you’re first approaching a boundary, so you can avoid crashing into it. In a Feldenkrais® session, we create a safe space for our clients to explore their own boundaries, and invite them to sense themselves with greater precision and subtlety.
This was the case with Jamie.
In her first session, she clearly didn’t want me to touch her. Not that she said this out loud. She’d had years of training in “holding still” and “being good” for the doctors and therapists. However, it was clear from her behavior that she wanted to say “no”—even though she wasn’t “supposed” to.
Seeing this, I suggested that Jamie’s mother get on the table first, so that Jamie could both see and hear that it was a comfortable, safe experience. And far more importantly, Jamie could see that her non-verbal boundary would be respected, and that I wouldn’t push her into something she didn’t want.
Eventually, Jamie’s mother coaxed her into lying on the table—but she was clearly still suspicious and still had very defensive, protective body language. Sensing that she still didn’t like this whole idea, I asked her if she’d prefer for me to start with her feet (instead of touching her back, as I’d done with her mother). She emphatically nodded her head “yes,” looking a bit relieved. So I started with just one foot, making tiny, gentle movements that always stayed well within the range of what was relaxing and comfortable—never intense or forceful. After a couple minutes, I could see her whole body relax and become less braced and defensive. She asked me to do her other foot, too. I complied. After a few minutes, I asked if she’d like me to do the same for her lower leg, and she nodded “yes”. She soon asked me to do the other leg, too. Then the session was over. In all, I probably only touched her for 5-10 minutes.
To a parent, it can be hard to believe this was a useful session.
Not much work was “done.” It’s actually common for a child to resist being touched at ALL in the first session. For parents, this often brings up doubts about whether this new “therapy” will work for their child, and whether they’re wasting their money. But during that first session, we established a crucial foundation of trust. Jamie learned that it was okay to say ‘No,’ that it was okay to make requests, and that not every new “therapist” would do things to her that felt uncomfortable.
Jamie’s second session was completely different.
The second time she came in, Jamie quickly jumped onto the table, and showed no hesitation about being touched. She soon even let me touch her back, and was comfortable being face-down on the table, which she hadn’t wanted during the first session. Having your back to someone is a vulnerable position, which indicates a significant increase in Jamie’s level of trust.
Many children come to me with a long history of being unable to set physical boundaries.
During our sessions together, they finally get a chance to have their boundaries honored and respected in a very tangible, physical way. In Jamie’s case, she even began making requests, and having those requests honored as well.
Even if she had never allowed me to touch her and we never addressed her motor skills, Jamie received something much more important during that first session. She was given the space and time to reclaim her right to set boundaries about her own body.
*Name and details have been changed to protect privacy.
Psychology Tomorrow Magazine is coming to Portland! Join the Revolution!
Stanley Siegel, Editor-in-Chief of Psychology Tomorrow Magazine (PTM) and founder of the Alternative Therapists Directory (ATD), is coming to Portland, Oregon, to join members of our growing, global community and other local practitioners in a discussion of our mission. The event is co-hosted by Alyssa Siegel, LPC, a PTM Columnist and Portland resident, who will provide the opportunity for Portland colleagues and friends to meet, discuss their philosophies and practices, and perhaps make new, like-minded friends.An ongoing collaborative project, the Alternative Therapists Directory now features over 200 practitioners around the world from a diverse range of backgrounds and specializations, and Psychology Tomorrow Magazine now reaches over 350,000 followers on social media and has over 50,000 subscribers!
Join us on Sunday, December 14th, 2014 from 5:30pm to 8pm at:
For more information and to make a reservation, please contact:
And don’t forget — as part of our new referral program, your membership will be extended two months for each colleague who enrolls as a result of your suggestion! Simply have them send an email to Adam@PsychologyTomorrowMagazine.com, mentioning your referral once they have joined ATD.