Welcome to the archived web site of
Will Joel Friedman, Ph.D. Psychologist (1950-2013)
California License No. PSY 10092
Specializing in Presence-Centered Therapy
balancing mind and heart, body and spirit
Now in memoriam - This website is no longer being updated
Articles by Dr. Friedman (except where noted otherwise)
True Psychology, Therapy and Healing
A Radical and Revolutionary Endeavor for True Understanding
© 2009 Will Joel Friedman, Ph.D. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.
What exactly is this person-to-person intimate encounter called therapy? What counts as true psychology and healing or curing? The premise of this writing is that through exploring the root meanings of these words coupled with over three decades of experience as a psychologist in full-time private practice, a clearing of clarity can arise revealing the psychological therapeutic experience, when effective, to be an honest, radical and revolutionary endeavor on the highest level of mutual respect and confidentiality, all for facilitating everyone's true growth and understanding.
With the word radical being used in the sense of going to the root of something, and the word revolutionary standing for a paradigm shift or change, this writing asserts that modern therapy is the last great bastion widely allowed and available in our modern world for people to truly challenge, transform and transcend unworkable patterns in their lives as well as look, see and reveal for oneself a true understanding of one's True Self.
American society is driven foremost by economics, that is, the accumulation of all monies and tangible things as well as the power, control and influence over the world. Historically it is deeply steeped in religious and spiritual values. A little over a century ago the field of psychology emerged from the humanities, and specifically philosophy, literally meaning "lover of wisdom." Originally psychology was not conceived as the science of the mind and human behavior. Because psyche means soul (as does the earlier root of the Greek letter Psi), true psychology actually stands for the art, science, study and logic of the human soul. In this view, true psychology encompasses not only the cognitive, behavioral and emotional realms of human life, but includes the social, relational and spiritual dimensions. That makes psychologists doctors of the human soul across all these realms.
Psychotherapy originated as a response to suffering and is associated with the sacred. Psychology is not only the oldest profession, true psychology that addresses the uncovering of our true nature and the full development of our whole souls also has been misplaced and forgotten. Author Arthur J. Deikman, M.D. reminds us of a truth:
"Historians of psychotherapy acknowledge priests and shamans as the first to heal the psyche. A sorcerer, his head crowned with deer's antlers, is depicted on the wall of a cave in southern France, dating from 15,000 B.C. Psychotherapists of one sort or another have been around a long time." 1
The word psyche, actually means soul, and therapy deriving from the Greek word therapeia meaning healing and to nurse or cure. Thomas Moore reminds us that cure derives from the Latin cura meaning care. We keep circling round the widening, upward spiral of healing. Therefore psychotherapy, the modern forum and sacred ashram for life transformation, literally means "soul nursing, caring, healing and curing," and makes psychotherapists "soul nurses, carers, healers and curers." In Truth, without arrogance or false pride, only Divinity can and does heal or cure anyone. Psychotherapists and other true healers, in the true meanings of these words, are purely facilitating agents of Our Beloved Divine's Love, Healing and Cure.
Jungian Analyst James Hillman in his 1975 book Re-visioning Psychology notes that psyche derived from the Greek and means "soul". Author and psychologist Michael Mayer writes that the "origin myth" for the field of Psychology is the laboratory experiments by Wilhelm Wundt in Leipzig, Germany. Alternatively, Mayer forwards the idea that Hillman and others mention that soul is metaphysically comprised of the ancient four elements of fire, earth, air and water as follows: "...psychology is not just about the study of mind; it is also about other elements of being, such as fire (the energy of our Selves), earth (grounding our Selves through body methods), air (yes, of course, mental/ cognitive methods are important, and so is the breath) and water (feelings are a key, as is developing the ability to modulate appropriately the watery, affective dimension of life)." Mayer states that this ancient view of soul provides an expanded range of what the field of modern psychology can offer and, by inference, a more fitting origin myth for the field of Psychology.2
The word heal derives from the Old English word hælen and the Saxon word hal both meaning whole. It is the same root of healing, healer, health, whole, holistic, hearth, hearty and holy. The related word holy derives from the Old English word halig which also means whole. Integral derives from the Old Latin word integralis and means belonging to or making up the whole, the same root for integrity, meaning an undivided state of completeness with nothing lacking. Grace is synonymous with wholeness.
Healing, wholeness, completeness, holiness, curing and caring are nearly interchangeable. Ultimately, healing is the experience of oneness and wholeness. Fritz Perls, originator of Gestalt Therapy and influential psychotherapist, repeatedly asserted, "awarenessby and of itselfcan be curative."3 As "curative" means to be symptom free for an extended period of time (allopathic medicine arbitrarily sets the time of six months symptom-free) and "healing" means the re-establishment of health, healing and wholeness, then awareness per se, alone and in and of itself, is both curative and healing.
True healers unendingly give their clients permission to heal on the level of root causes, instead of merely treating effects and symptoms, because clients are perceived for who they arehearty, whole, healthy and perfect on the level of our real nature. Healing loosens the ego's grip while opening room to live in the soul's awareness full-time.
What efficacy is there to the popular notion that ancient physicians in China and Egypt were paid to keep their patients well? Whether what sketchy historical evidence we have supports this or not, answering this questions turns on what physicians actually provide. In the post-modern Western world, allopathic medical doctors are steeped in the medical model and largely oriented toward secondary prevention, that is, using various medications, treatments and surgical interventions to resolve medical symptoms and cure illness. The great majority of us pay for health insurance in the quest to buy health security and financial protection in the eventuality of such diseases. Clearly if the purpose of physicianswhat they provideis defined in these restricted, narrow terms, the above question is unanswerable and actually makes no sense whatsoever.
However, what if by physician one means a healer honoring the purpose of providing not only care when symptoms, illnesses and chronic diseases arise, but also most prominently focusing on primary prevention? Primary prevention brings the vision and takes the initiative to help people prevent unhealthy or disease symptoms before they arise through recommending, modeling and coaching a broad pantheon of healthy lifestyle behaviors, practices, attitudes, skills and strategies. So within the context of primary prevention healers being wholly oriented toward their clients staying healthy as well as developing and maintaining high-level wellness, the vision to stay well makes sense. Furthermore, this service would be worth paying handsomely for. A broad range of complimentary and alternative health treatments along with health and wellness coaches/counselors/therapists share this core vision, approach and intervention strategy.
True healing is when the ego gets sufficiently out of the way to allow an emotional, cognitive and bodily processing of the wounds that the conditioned mind carries. Given that everything in perception and experience is processed through the mind that carries all the environmental conditioning, when ill health and disease processes arise, it must be that the mind that is ill or sick, beyond what genetic predispositions are present and activated. While this process is often called re-scripting, re-learning and re-parenting, it is fundamentally a "writing over" the original survival decisions and defensive beliefs. Often this processing allows one to not "look again" at the unacceptable events or traumas, but rather to "look for the first time," since the person was rarely really present to the event. Most often he or she is frozen and "buzzed out" or dissociated.
Once the unacceptable traumatic event is fully experiencing "through" in a way that is emotionally honest and transformative, all quickly or progressively returns to being well and whole. Getting to the affect along with a shift in cognitions and perspective are hallmarks of an emotionally corrective experience or an emotionally healing encounter. Being in the Absolute realm of Spirit, all is perfection and One and there is nothing to heal since everything is already whole and perfect. The ultimate physician, shaman and healer is Divinity-what was whole will return to being whole as we get our ego-minds out of the way and linger in Our Beloved's Love and Light.
Socrates, who viewed moral goodness as equivalent to health, knew that the ultimate goal of life was the evolution of our soul. When we are at-one-ment, forgiveness and oneness, there is no them, no other-it's all us, all the One. Healing is the sacred space of whole-hearted empathy in which we take the invitation into another's emotional heart and they into ours. Healing occurs when the unhealed is brought into the light of presence. To know the sacred, holy and Divine and embody these qualities is to be naturally healing. Spirit has dominion over mind. This is a gift all of us are blessed with, when we will fully accept and embrace it. When we give the ego disinterest, nothing, and tasks to deconstruct and sideline itself, we outgrow it and healing naturally occurs.
The healer translates all disturbing, doubting, harmful, desperate and suicidal messages as cries of wounded souls, and nothing more than this. The healer looks and sees the underlying need, which oftentimes is for attention, acceptance, agreement, approval or respect. It may be for acknowledgment, help, understanding, or having someone listen with full interested, unconditional and uncritical attention as well as an open heart of loving-kindness. It may be for another's sheer presence in letting the other simply be as they are. When traumatic memories, fears, panic, loss and stress comes up in a therapeutic context, it is no longer the obsessive-compulsive, self-defeating and symptom-laden repetition compulsion of Sigmund Freud, but certainly can be a healing opportunity for a creative replay that initiates a more adaptive reframe.
Instead of "Things fall apart; the center cannot hold," as W. B. Yeats descibed it in The Second Coming, we are able to hold our center and ground of being when we do the in-the-trench, gut-feeling-level work. To be free to be who you truly are without the ego's reactive, misguided survival patterns, means to allow the emotional charge and associated survival decisions of a defeating pattern to move all the way through our bodies to completion. Thus derives the popular therapeutic phrase, "Every replay is a reframe," which is at once gently reassuring, beautifully evocative and astutely accurate.
At root, it behooves the healer to answer the call for honest, naked Love and the High Voice's presence by facilitating a "numinous" experience, that is, the mysterious, fascinating, overpowering, dreadful and awesome essence of creative spiritual connection. In healing we are one in Spirit proactively impassioned to confirm our correspondence to the Divine and Divine Will, that is, our will through Divine Will.
Psychologist Carl Rogers, the founder of Client-centered therapy and some consider to be the father of modern psychotherapy, suggested three primary healing attributes that therapists provide: (1) authenticity (real, genuine and transparent); (2) accurate empathy (being at home in another's perceptual world, setting aside yourself to be in another's reality); and (3) unconditional positive regard (caring, valuing, acceptance without judgment and unconditional love). Underlying these healing qualities is the substratum of presence, an intrinsic awareness flowing and unfolding between therapist and client, and experienced as aiding wholeness and enhancing healing. 4
Any therapeutic approach that incorporates these three attributes and helps the ego as a mistaken identity to get out of the way by allowing the emotional, cognitive and bodily processing through of unacceptable experiences or traumas can be most helpful. When a therapeutic approach "writes over" the old survival decisions with realistic, constructive and affirmative cognitions true to now, this opens the space for authentic healing, being free to be who you are, your "original face," and wholly being your Self.
Psychologist Lawrence LeShan extensively interviewed healers and found that some number aimed to function as the source of power that made the therapeutic change occur, and he named this Type II healing. At the same time, most of the healers seemed to relax their sense of "I" and unite in intense caring with the person. They called upon, identified and absorbed an energy that was greater, wiser and more unconditionally loving than themselves. They served as facilitators of God's healing power. He called this Type I healing. Miraculous prayers employ LeShan's Type I healing. 5 Spiritual teacher John Allan illustrates Type I healing in his description of how he overcame cancer: 6
"I've found that it's important for me to yield my hurting places. For instance, with my cancer I'd concentrate on yielding the spot in my body where the tumors were. As I did, I'd often feel the warm, loving sense of God's life begin to enter the tumors and to fill the tumors. I kept this process going through directing the energy as I yielded my body. The more I felt the energy of God's love the more my fear receded for I knew God was with me."
With every release, letting go and surrender, our natural being is once again revealed. A miracle is purely an event that you cannot logically and reasonably explain. Such miracles may well happen all the time. They are seeable once you begin to pay attention with an open awareness. The Course in Miracles describes a miracle as a shift in perception from fear to love. It notes, "Where two have joined for healing, God is there."
Healers that sincerely call upon God's Light, Love and Presence serve as powerful models of fervent love and certain faith for healing and wholeness. Whatever isn't working in a troubled individual's life is symptomatic of a separation between the person and the High Voice. The healer's privilege and calling is to aid life and their fellow human brother and sister, who at these times can be seen to be wandering in self- and God- alienation. The Course in Miracles advises, "Very simply, the purpose of psychotherapy is to remove the blocks to truth." This is very close to the Hindu idea of "neti neti" ("not this, not this") that supports the clearing of everything you are not to reveal what remains-the truth of who you are. Our calling as therapists is to facilitate, model and empower people's psychological and spiritual connection to inhabit Oneness.
The one who is called "healer" is a servant of our Beloved, empowered to the degree that his or her heart is pure and committed, non-attached and soul present. The one called healer only needs to passionately knock on the High Voice's door by persistently asking Divinity to "Reveal Yourself." He or she actually does nothing, and certainly does not do healing. Rather, the therapeutic facilitator calls upon the High Voice to descend into him or her, and it is God's Light and Love that actually does the healing.
Healing comes through you when you are transparent, surrendered, unmanifest One, without "you" as a separate entity being present whatsoever. The absence of "you" or ego-mind does usher in a transparency that allows the awareness and presence to flow through, and this portal further allowing an unknowing, brilliant wholeness to be present.
Everyone can be a priest of Spirit, an aider of the True Healer. The integration of our false self or ego-mind into our pure Awareness is creating the space of sanity, healing and wholeness. The ego succumbing can invite the soul to be the its shinning light of Wisdom; thus the soul can wrap the ego around it in a healing light of harmless Love. With deepening trust and good inner will, the ego wrapped in the soul's love and wisdom can help evoke an emotional healing experience.
Imagine, as The Course in Miracles advises, each being starts their day with five whole minutes being at one with Our Beloved and our real nature? With Spirit most prominent, what room would there be for the ego-mind to dominate? Would you be willing to kindly submit and place your True Nature in executive command that effectively frees ego to roam in an infinite pasture? Beginning each day with five minutes of communion with Light and Love to be most awakened, present and loving throughout the day is an incredibly small cost for an equally incredible living experience of Presence.
Take several illustrations. Watch an angry and hurt son who is guided by his real nature to re-envision the wounded, self-medicating father who now can be seen as having made survival-based decisions then and can be re-perceived today as a strong, nurturing father underneath it all. Or the over-responsible daughter can be guided to find the responsible and caring mother. Remember how Jesus called upon the power of God to make the sick and disordered whole and told his disciples to go heal. Uniting in intense caring with another while calling upon the High Voice's wisdom and unconditional Love is a powerful portal for all authentic healing as is all gentle humor, laughter and lightness.
What is a true Understanding? To fully "stand under" anyone's experience and see what is real is true Understanding. The healer's commitment is to persist in sending the unconditional message "I love you, your essential being and soul, and I join with our Beloved's Love and affiliation to meet your legitimate needs in liking and caring about you. As you might fear I'll give up and abandon you, know that I know not how to do this. All I give is all I have to give. I only envision you healthy, whole, holy and healed."
1. Arthur J. Deikman, The Observing Self: Mysticism and Psychotherapy. Boston, Massachusetts: Beacon Press, quote: page 1.
2. Michael Mayer, Energy Psychology: Self-Healing Practices for Bodymind Health. Berkeley, California: North Atlantic Books, 2009, pages 66, 104, quote: page 104.
3. Fritz S. Perls, Ego, Hunger, and Aggression. New York: Vintage, 1969 / 1947; and Gestalt Therapy Verbatim. Lafayette, California; Real People Press, 1969, quote: page 16.
4. Carl Rogers, A Way of Being. Boston, Massachusetts: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1980.
5. Lawrence LeShan, The Medium, the Mystic, and the Physicist. New York: Ballantine Books, 1974, pages 105-112, 147-151.
6. John Allen, Living in the Presence of God. Cambria, California: MorningStar Press, 1995, pages 60-61.
© 2009 Will Joel Friedman, Ph.D. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.
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