Shamanism and Psychotherapy: Transformative Partnership for Healing

As individuals, we often seek guidance and solutions to life’s struggles through various means, including therapy and spiritual practices. Yet, what happens when two seemingly different paths merge in an unlikely partnership? Such is the case with shamanism and psychotherapy. While these two disciplines may appear on opposite ends of the spectrum, they both share similarities in their focus on healing and personal growth. In this article, we explore the intersection of shamanism and psychotherapy, the benefits of integrated practices, and how to apply this partnership for holistic healing.

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What is Shamanism?

What Is Shamanism?
Shamanism is a spiritual practice and a way of life embedded in indigenous cultures around the world. It is based on the belief that everything is interconnected in nature, and all things possess a spiritual essence. The role of a shaman is to act as an intermediary between the spirit world and the physical world. This is done through rituals, ceremonies, and healing practices that involve the use of natural substances, such as herbs or psychoactive plants. The core beliefs and practices of Shamanism include the concepts of animism, ancestor worship, and divination. One of the most prominent practices in shamanism is shamanic journeying, where a person enters an altered state of consciousness to communicate with the spiritual realm and receive guidance. Despite the decline of traditional shamanic practices due to colonialism and modernization, contemporary adaptations and appropriations of shamanism are still prevalent in popular culture today, such as in movies and spiritual movements.

Core Beliefs and Practices

Shamanism is an ancient spiritual practice that has been utilized by indigenous cultures for thousands of years. Despite its varying cultural manifestations, shamanism is characterized by several core beliefs and practices.

  • Spiritual Realms: Shamans believe in the existence of spiritual realms that interact with our material world.
  • Spirit Guides: Shamans believe in the existence of spirit guides or power animals that provide guidance and protection.
  • Rituals and Ceremonies: Shamanic rituals and ceremonies are used to connect with spiritual realms, honor ancestors, and heal illness.
  • Healing: Shamans believe in the power of healing and utilize various methods, such as herbalism and energy work, to assist in the healing process.
  • Individual and Collective Wellbeing: Shamans believe that individual and collective wellbeing are intertwined and work to promote harmony and balance in both realms.

These core beliefs and practices are rooted in the understanding that there is a spiritual dimension to reality and that humans have the ability to interact with that dimension. While shamanism has faced challenges, such as the impact of colonialism (source) and the debate over contemporary versus traditional shamanism (source), it continues to be a valuable spiritual practice for those who seek healing and connection with the spiritual realm.

Shamanic Journeying

Shamanic journeying is a powerful method used in shamanism to access deeper realms of consciousness. During a shamanic journey, a person enters a state of deep relaxation and uses visualization techniques to journey beyond ordinary reality, allowing them to connect with ancestors, spirit guides, and other non-ordinary beings.

Key beliefs and principles of shamanic journeying include the notion of *animism* or the belief that everything in the universe has consciousness and a sacred purpose. People who practice shamanic journeying believe that through connecting with the universe, they can uncover the answers to many of life’s questions.

The shamanic journey consists of three parts: preparation, journeying, and integration. During the preparation phase, the shamanic practitioner will create a sacred space or altar, light candles, and burn incense, all while setting the intention for their journey. The journey itself can be done alone or with a guide, using rhythmic drumming or another form of sound to induce a trance state.

Once in the journey state, a practitioner may encounter spirit animals, receive symbols or messages, or have access to other transformative experiences. Finally, the integration phase involves reflecting on the experience, and bringing its lessons back into one’s everyday life.

Shamanic journeying can be a powerful way to access insight, creativity, and healing. It is often used to help overcome emotional pain or trauma, as well as to connect with the divine and unearth ancient wisdom. Many people who practice shamanic journeying find that it helps them feel more grounded, centered, and connected to the larger universe.

Shamanic journeying is a transformative practice that opens the door to a deeper understanding of oneself and the world around us. Through journeying, we can learn to trust our intuition, connect with our inner wisdom, and tap into the power of the universe.

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What is Psychotherapy?

Psychotherapy is a form of mental health treatment that involves talking with a trained therapist to explore and address emotional and psychological issues. There are multiple modalities and techniques used in psychotherapy, including but not limited to cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), psychoanalytic therapy, and humanistic therapy. Each modality is designed to address a specific set of issues and can be tailored to an individual’s unique needs. Psychotherapy acknowledges the mind-body connection and seeks to help individuals gain insight into their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. It provides a safe space for clients to openly express themselves and develop coping skills to manage stress, anxiety, depression, and other issues. Through psychotherapy, individuals can enhance their self-awareness, promote personal growth, and improve their overall quality of life.

Modalities and Techniques

Psychotherapy involves a wide range of modalities and techniques that focus on improving mental and emotional well-being. Some of the most commonly used modalities include cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), psychodynamic therapy, humanistic therapy, exposure therapy, and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT). These modalities can help individuals overcome different mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, personality disorders, trauma, and addictions.

In CBT, the focus is on identifying negative thoughts and behaviors and replacing them with positive ones. Psychodynamic therapy, on the other hand, explores unconscious patterns and unresolved conflicts that can contribute to mental health problems. Humanistic therapy emphasizes the importance of self-awareness and personal growth, while exposure therapy helps individuals face and overcome their fears and phobias. DBT combines both cognitive-behavioral and mindfulness techniques to help individuals manage difficult emotions and improve relationships.

Apart from these modalities, psychotherapy also uses several techniques that can improve the effectiveness of the treatment. Some of these techniques include mindfulness, meditation, hypnotherapy, breathing exercises, and relaxation techniques. These techniques can help individuals manage stress, reduce anxiety, and cultivate a sense of inner peace.

The key to successful psychotherapy is finding a modality and technique that works best for each individual’s unique needs and goals. By partnering with shamanic practices, individuals can explore new modalities and techniques that can complement traditional psychotherapy and support their path to healing and growth.

Mind-Body Connection

The mind-body connection is a fundamental aspect of psychotherapy and is an essential component of shamanism. The concept is based on the idea that the mind and body are inextricably connected and that psychological states can have a profound impact on physical health.

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction is a modality that combines mindfulness meditation with yoga and body awareness techniques. It has been shown to be an effective treatment for a range of mental health conditions, including anxiety and depression, and has also been shown to have beneficial effects on physical health, including reductions in blood pressure and improvements in immune function.

Another technique that focuses on the mind-body connection is biofeedback. This modality involves using electronic monitoring devices to help individuals learn to control various bodily functions, such as muscle tension, heart rate, and skin temperature. Biofeedback has been used to treat a range of conditions, including chronic pain and migraines.

Somatic psychotherapy is another approach that emphasizes the connection between the mind and body. This modality involves working directly with the body to identify and release physical tension and trauma. Techniques such as breathwork, movement therapy, and body-focused awareness are used to help individuals achieve greater awareness of their physical sensations and release emotional blocks.

In shamanism, the mind-body connection is emphasized through practices such as ritual dance, chanting, and drumming. These practices help create a state of trance that allows individuals to connect with their inner selves and access deeper levels of consciousness. The rituals also involve physical movement that helps release tension and promote a sense of well-being.

The mind-body connection is essential to both psychotherapy and shamanism. By integrating techniques that focus on this connection, individuals can achieve greater awareness of their physical and emotional states and experience profound healing on multiple levels.

The Unlikely Alliance

The Unlikely Alliance
Shamanism and psychotherapy seem like an unlikely pairing. One is rooted in ancient spiritual traditions and the other is a modern mental health practice. However, when you dig deeper, you’ll find that both approaches share a common goal – healing mind, body, and spirit. With the intersection of shamanism and psychotherapy, a unique opportunity arises to blend both practices to create a more holistic healing experience. By bridging the gap between these two seemingly different practices, individuals can tap into ancient wisdom, explore the depths of their being, and move closer to finding balance in their lives.

The Intersection of Shamanism and Psychotherapy

The intersection of shamanism and psychotherapy is a fascinating and complex topic, as both modalities have unique perspectives on human experiences and offer distinct approaches to healing. While shamanism is often associated with traditional indigenous practices and psychotherapy with Western medicine, the two share some surprising similarities.

Shamanism views illness and disharmony as stemming from a disconnect between the individual and their environment, their community, or their spirit. Similarly, psychotherapy sees mental and emotional distress as a result of internal conflicts, negative thought patterns, or unresolved trauma. Both approaches acknowledge the importance of addressing the root cause of the issue.

Shamanic practices such as journeying and energy healing can be incorporated into psychotherapy sessions to complement traditional talk therapy. Journeying allows individuals to access their subconscious mind and connect with spiritual guides or power animals to gain insight and guidance. Energy healing works with the body’s natural energy field to release blockages and promote physical and emotional healing.

Psychotherapy can also provide helpful tools and frameworks for shamanic practitioners. For example, cognitive-behavioral therapy can aid in changing negative thought patterns, while psychodynamic therapy can help uncover and process past trauma.

The intersection of shamanism and psychotherapy highlights the importance of a holistic approach to healing. By acknowledging the mind-body-spirit connection, individuals can address their issues from multiple perspectives and achieve a deeper level of understanding and insight.

To further illustrate the intersection of shamanism and psychotherapy, here are some examples of integrated practices:

Integrated Practice Description
Mindfulness-Based Core Shamanism Combines mindfulness meditation with core shamanic practices to increase self-awareness and emotional regulation.
Transpersonal Psychotherapy with Shamanic Elements Integrates traditional talk therapy with shamanic practices such as journeying and energy healing to address deeper spiritual and existential issues.

The intersection of shamanism and psychotherapy demonstrates the power of embracing a holistic approach to healing. By combining multiple modalities, individuals can address their issues from multiple angles and achieve a more comprehensive and long-lasting healing experience.

The Benefits of Combining Both

The benefits of combining shamanism and psychotherapy can be profound. By integrating shamanic practices and principles into mainstream therapy, individuals can access a broader range of tools and techniques for healing and growth. Here are some of the key benefits that can be experienced when these two modalities are combined:

  • Greater Self-Awareness: Shamanic practices help individuals access deeper parts of themselves, often revealing insights and guidance that are inaccessible through traditional talk therapy. Combining these practices with psychotherapy can help individuals develop a more complete understanding of themselves and their experiences, leading to greater self-awareness.
  • Healing Trauma: Trauma can be stored in the body and mind, leading to physical and emotional symptoms that are difficult to treat. Shamanic practices that focus on somatic experiences can be particularly effective in addressing trauma. When combined with psychotherapy, individuals can work through both the physical and emotional aspects of their trauma, leading to more lasting healing.
  • Increased Resilience: Shamanic practices can build resilience and enhance coping skills, which can be particularly helpful for individuals struggling with mental health issues or life transitions. By combining these practices with psychotherapy, individuals can develop a strong foundation of resilience and coping strategies to draw upon in difficult times.
  • Access to Spiritual Guidance: Many individuals seek therapy as a way to explore deeper spiritual questions or experiences. Shamanic practices can offer a direct connection to spiritual guidance and wisdom, while psychotherapy can help individuals process and integrate these experiences in a safe and supportive environment.
  • Improved Emotional Regulation: Shamanic practices can be particularly helpful for improving emotional regulation, as they often involve working with difficult emotions in a grounded and embodied way. Combining these practices with psychotherapy can help individuals develop more effective emotional regulation strategies.

By combining shamanism and psychotherapy, individuals can access a wealth of healing tools and techniques, leading to more complete and lasting healing.

Examples of Integrated Practices

One example of an integrated practice between shamanism and psychotherapy is Mindfulness-Based Core Shamanism. This approach combines the core beliefs and practices of shamanism with mindfulness techniques. Another example is Transpersonal Psychotherapy with Shamanic Elements, which incorporates shamanic journeying and other shamanic practices into traditional psychotherapy modalities. Both approaches highlight the importance of connecting with the spiritual self and utilizing the mind-body connection for holistic healing. These integrated practices provide individuals with a unique and effective way to address their mental health needs while embracing the power of ancient traditions and spirituality.

Mindfulness-Based Core Shamanism

Mindfulness-Based Core Shamanism is a modern take on shamanism that integrates mindfulness practices with traditional shamanic techniques. It emphasizes the importance of being present in the moment, cultivating a non-judgmental awareness of thoughts and feelings, and connecting with the natural world.

One of the core beliefs of this approach is that everything in the universe is interconnected, and that we are all part of a larger whole. By practicing mindfulness and connecting with the natural world, we can tap into this universal energy and find healing and guidance.

In Mindfulness-Based Core Shamanism, practitioners often begin by learning basic shamanic techniques such as journeying, drumming, and working with power animals. They also incorporate mindfulness practices such as meditation, breathing exercises, and body scans.

During a shamanic journey, the practitioner enters a trance-like state and travels to the spirit world to seek guidance or healing for themselves or others.

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By combining this technique with mindfulness practices, the practitioner can stay grounded and present throughout the journey, making it easier to integrate the insights and guidance received.

Another key aspect of Mindfulness-Based Core Shamanism is working with the elements and nature spirits. Practitioners may use mindfulness techniques to connect with the spirits of trees, water, fire, earth, and other natural elements, seeking their guidance and healing.

This approach offers a powerful way to merge the ancient wisdom of shamanism with modern mindfulness practices, allowing practitioners to access deep healing and transformation on both a personal and collective level. By cultivating a connection with the natural world and practicing mindfulness, we can tap into the universal energy that connects us all and find greater wholeness and well-being in our lives.

Transpersonal Psychotherapy with Shamanic Elements

Transpersonal Psychotherapy with Shamanic Elements is a type of therapeutic approach that combines transpersonal psychology with traditional shamanic practices. This approach recognizes the spiritual nature of humans, and the importance of connecting with spiritual realms to achieve greater levels of healing.

In this type of therapy, shamans act as spiritual guides, using techniques such as shamanic journeying, which allows the client to access higher realms for guidance and healing. The shaman may also facilitate soul retrieval, a process where lost parts of the self are retrieved and reintegrated into the person’s being.

The transpersonal psychotherapist, on the other hand, serves as a guide to help the client integrate their healing experiences into their everyday life. They may use various techniques such as talk therapy, art therapy, and somatic experiencing to help the client process their experiences and emotions.

Benefits of Transpersonal Psychotherapy with Shamanic Elements:

  • Helps individuals connect with their spiritual nature
  • Facilitates deeper healing by addressing spiritual aspects of a person
  • Increases self-awareness and mindfulness
  • Helps individuals release old patterns and traumas

Case Study:
One example of Transpersonal Psychotherapy with Shamanic Elements is the work of Dr. Jill Fischer, a licensed psychotherapist who combines shamanic practices with traditional psychotherapy. She worked with a client who had been struggling with depression and anxiety for years. Together, they explored the spiritual root of the client’s issues and used shamanic journeying to connect with ancestral wisdom and healing. Through this process, the client was able to release old patterns and beliefs that were holding her back and achieve greater levels of emotional and spiritual healing.

Transpersonal Psychotherapy with Shamanic Elements is a powerful therapeutic approach that addresses the spiritual dimensions of an individual’s healing. By combining both shamanic practices and traditional psychotherapy techniques, individuals can achieve deeper levels of healing and growth. It is important to seek out a qualified professional who is trained in both fields to ensure that the practice is safe and effective.

Applying the Partnership

Applying the partnership between shamanism and psychotherapy requires intention, dedication, and a willingness to explore new perspectives. Seeking professional support from a therapist trained in these modalities can provide guidance and structure as you navigate the integration process. It’s important to approach this work with a spirit of self-care, making time for introspection and self-reflection. Integration is key, and taking time to process your experiences can help you fully internalize the benefits of this partnership. Remember that this alliance is grounded in the belief that mind, body, and spirit are interconnected, and that healing is holistic and multifaceted. Embrace the power of this union and let it guide you towards a new understanding of yourself and the world around you.

Seeking Professional Support

One of the most important things to do when considering shamanism and psychotherapy as a combined approach is to seek professional support. A qualified therapist who is trained in both psychotherapy and shamanic practices can help you navigate the challenges and benefits of this unique approach.

When seeking professional support, it’s essential to find a therapist who has experience and education in both fields. Look for someone who has a background in psychology and is also trained in shamanic practices such as journeying, soul retrieval, and energy work. Ask for recommendations from friends or family members who may have experience with this type of therapy, or seek out online referrals and reviews.

During your search for a therapist, it’s crucial to be clear about your expectations and goals for the therapy. Discuss any specific issues or concerns you have, as well as any spiritual or personal beliefs that may be important to you. Make sure you feel comfortable and safe with the therapist and their approach to treatment.

Once you have found a therapist who is experienced in combining shamanic and psychotherapeutic techniques, the work can begin. Sessions may include a variety of practices such as talk therapy, energy work, meditation, and shamanic journeying. With the guidance of your therapist, you can explore deeper aspects of your psyche, understand the root causes of your emotional and physical challenges, and develop greater insight and awareness.

It’s important to note that shamanic practices can sometimes bring up intense emotions and experiences. A skilled therapist can help you navigate any challenges that arise and provide support and guidance throughout the process.

Seeking professional support when exploring the combination of shamanism and psychotherapy is critical for a safe and effective healing journey. With the help of a skilled therapist, you can discover the powerful benefits of this unlikely alliance and begin to see improvements in your emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being.

The Importance of Integration and Self-Care

The Importance of Integration and Self-Care cannot be overstated in an alliance between Shamanism and Psychotherapy. Integration involves the incorporation of new insights and experiences from both modalities into one’s lifestyle, values, and beliefs. Self-care, on the other hand, refers to the deliberate and conscious actions one takes to maintain their physical, emotional, and mental well-being. Here are some ways to practice integration and self-care in the context of this partnership:


Ways to practice Integration Description
Journaling Write down insights gained from both Shamanism and Psychotherapy sessions and reflect on how they relate to each other.
Meditation Use mindfulness techniques to integrate new learning into one’s daily life.
Retreats Participate in retreats that combine Shamanic and Psychotherapy elements to deepen one’s practice.


  • Physical self-care: Engage in activities that promote physical health such as yoga, exercise, and good nutrition.
  • Emotional self-care: Practice self-compassion and self-awareness. Seek support from family, friends, or a therapist when needed.
  • Mental self-care: Engage in activities that stimulate the mind such as reading, learning a new skill, or puzzles.

By practicing integration and self-care, individuals can experience a deeper level of healing and personal growth as they navigate the intersection of Shamanism and Psychotherapy. It is essential to remember that this partnership is a journey, and everyone’s path will look different. Embrace the power of holistic healing and trust the process.


In conclusion, the integration of shamanism and psychotherapy provides a powerful framework for holistic healing that honors the mind, body, and spirit. By merging the ancient wisdom of shamanic practices with contemporary psychotherapeutic techniques, individuals can access deeper levels of self-awareness, healing, and transformation. Seeking professional support from therapists and practitioners who have experience in both fields is essential for safe and effective use of this partnership. In addition, integration and self-care play a crucial role in the success of this approach. By embracing the power of this unlikely alliance, individuals can find the tools they need to heal, grow, and thrive in all aspects of their lives.

Embracing the Power of Holistic Healing

Embracing the Power of Holistic Healing means recognizing the interconnectedness of body, mind, and spirit, and addressing all aspects of a person’s being to achieve optimal wellness and wellness. The partnership between shamanism and psychotherapy perfectly illustrates the efficacy of a holistic approach to healing.

When we focus solely on the physical symptoms of an illness or mental health disorder, we risk ignoring the root cause of the issue. By incorporating shamanic practices into psychotherapy, we gain a more profound understanding of the psyche and the ways in which it interacts with the physical world. Through practices like shamanic journeying and mindfulness meditation, we can access deeper levels of consciousness and connect with our inner selves, allowing us to gain insight into patterns of thought and behavior that may have been previously unaddressed.

In embracing the power of holistic healing, we acknowledge that our well-being is not just about treating symptoms but about addressing the underlying root causes. Self-care practices, such as spending time in nature, engaging in creative activities, and setting healthy boundaries in relationships, are just as vital to our overall well-being as receiving professional therapeutic support.

By taking a holistic approach to healing, we open ourselves up to the benefits of a wider range of healing modalities and practices. We become more attuned to our bodies, minds, and spirits and can make more informed choices about our health and well-being. The partnership between shamanism and psychotherapy is a shining example of the power of embracing a holistic approach to healing and demonstrates the immense potential for integrating different modes of healing to achieve optimal wellness and personal growth.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between Shamanism and Psychotherapy?

Shamanism is a spiritual practice that has been around for thousands of years, while psychotherapy is a more recent form of therapy that focuses on the mind and emotions.

What are the core beliefs of Shamanism?

The core beliefs of Shamanism include the belief in spirits, the power of nature, and the interconnectedness of all things.

What is shamanic journeying?

Shamanic journeying is a technique used in Shamanism to enter a trance-like state and explore different realms of consciousness.

What are some common psychotherapy modalities?

Common psychotherapy modalities include Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Psychodynamic Therapy, and Humanistic Therapy.

What is the mind-body connection within the context of psychotherapy?

The mind-body connection refers to the idea that our mental and emotional states can have a direct impact on our physical health, and vice versa.

How do Shamanism and Psychotherapy intersect?

Shamanism and Psychotherapy intersect in their shared focus on healing and transformation, as well as their recognition that the body, mind, and spirit are interconnected.

What are some benefits of combining Shamanism and Psychotherapy?

Benefits of combining Shamanism and Psychotherapy can include increased self-awareness, greater emotional and spiritual healing, and a deeper sense of connection to oneself and the world around them.

What is Mindfulness-Based Core Shamanism?

Mindfulness-Based Core Shamanism is a practice that combines elements of Mindfulness Meditation with Shamanic techniques to promote healing, self-awareness, and personal growth.

What is Transpersonal Psychotherapy with Shamanic Elements?

Transpersonal Psychotherapy with Shamanic Elements is a form of therapy that incorporates Shamanic techniques to help individuals connect with their spiritual selves and achieve greater personal growth.

Why is it important to seek professional support when integrating Shamanism and Psychotherapy?

It’s important to seek professional support when integrating Shamanism and Psychotherapy to ensure that the individual is receiving safe and effective treatment, and that their mental health needs are being appropriately addressed.


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