Spirituality and Psychotherapy-Dr. Arielle Schwartz

An Intimate Conversation with Linda Baird, LPC

Spirituality and Psychotherapy Dr. Arielle Schwartz

This interview was conducted as part of a series of dialogues with experts about psychotherapy and spirituality by Linda Baird, LPC psychotherapist specializing in Hakomi, Internal Family Systems, and EMDR Therapy and The Four Desires (ParaYoga). Read on for excerpts of the interview and a link to listen to our full conversation.

Speaking about the relationship between spirituality and resilience:

  • What is resiliency?
  • How do these principles inform psychotherapy and spirituality?
  • How can these three principles allow us to stay out of judgment and in present-moment awareness?
  • How you can cultivate resiliency and what this means for your long-term health and happiness.

“Three key elements of resiliency include reducing isolation by connecting to others, recognition that we have the capacity to grow even through challenging life events, and the belief that we can act in ways that influence the course of our lives. Spirituality has many parallel elements to resilience—the need for a spiritual community, practices that help us learn and grow, and an emphasis on an active, engaged approach to life.”
Dr. Arielle Schwartz

Resilience, Embodiment, and Mindfulness

Spirituality and Psychotherapy Dr. Arielle Schwartz

Is there one take-home tip listeners might take away from this call?

I’d love to speak about the importance of resilience, embodiment, and mindfulness practices and how they inform my perspective to spirituality and my approach to psychotherapy. There will be discussions on how you as the listener can cultivate your own resilience practices and what really means. Why is resilience a spiritual practice? How are these tied together? What allows you to be connected to yourself, to your own body, to awareness of the present moment, and what gets you out of self-judgment? What cultivates health for you as a clinician or what cultivates health in your clients?

What role does spirituality have in your own life?

…Initially my spiritual seeking was about transcendence. I engaged in meditation and yoga as ways to avoid having to feel or deal with inner conflicts inside of myself and outer challenges in my life. Once I entered graduate school for somatic, or body centered, psychology and I was required to be in psychotherapy my approach to spiritual practice also took a dramatic shift. Rather than trying to get out of my body I turned my full attention to sensing my body and feeling my emotions. This is not an easy path…

What is your approach to psychotherapy?

…When dealing with PTSD it is imperative that both clinician and client have support for dealing with feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, despair, and injustice. I call my work resilience informed therapy as reminder that most people respond to traumatic events with resiliency, that we can successfully recover from post traumatic stress, and that many people actually report feeling stronger or growing in some fundamental way after recovering from trauma exposure…

Do you incorporate your spiritual perspective into your psychotherapy practice, and if so, how?

…Yes, I incorporate spirituality into my work but not in any rigid or dogmatic form. The most important consideration to me when bringing spirituality into psychotherapy is the relationship I have with the person sitting across from me. It is imperative to start by respecting the world view of the people we are with. While I value the benefits of mindfulness, it is never worth pushing an agenda that forsakes connection…

How do you see therapy as a spiritual practice?

…I use my own yoga and mindfulness practices as a way to stay connected to me and to stay present with my clients. For example, I have a daily yoga practice that I do every day before seeing clients. My embodiment practices allow me to be empathic without losing a sense of who I am…

Why is it important to bring a spiritual perspective into psychotherapy?

…I think much of what people seek in spiritual practice is similar to that which is emphasized in resilience. Three key elements of resiliency include reducing isolation by connecting to others, recognition that we have the capacity to grow even through challenging life events, and the belief that we can act in ways that influence the course of our lives. Spirituality has many parallel elements to resilience—the need for a spiritual community, practices that help us learn and grow, and an emphasis on an active, engaged approach to life…

What else would you like listeners to know?

Click here to listen to our full conversation and to find all of the spirituality and psychotherapy interviews conducted by Linda Baird, LPC.

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About Dr. Arielle Schwartz

Dr. Arielle Schwartz

Dr. Arielle Schwartz is a licensed clinical psychologist, wife, and mother in Boulder, CO. She offers trainings for therapists, maintains a private practice, and has passions for the outdoors, yoga, and writing. Dr. Schwartz is the author of The Complex PTSD Workbook: A Mind-Body Approach to Regaining Emotional Control and Becoming Whole (2016). She is the developer of Resilience-Informed Therapy which applies research on trauma recovery to form a strength-based, trauma treatment model that includes Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), somatic (body-centered) psychology and time-tested relational psychotherapy. Like Dr. Arielle Schwartz on Facebook, follow her on Linkedin and sign up for email updates to stay up to date with all her posts.


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