An Expert Coach, Consultant, & Teacher with 30+ Years of Experience
When I was 8 years old I had an inner knowingness that my path in life was to help transform mental healthcare. (No, I could not even spell psychiatry--this all came to me in a flash).
My Dad was a prominent, bright MD/researcher, but had overwhelming addiction problems. My Mom was a dedicated nurse who struggled with depression. Medical science was not able to relieve Mom or Dad from their inner demons and darkness. I sensed innerly--there's got to be a way of life in which people are truly happy and not drowning their sorrows in alcohol, or hiding them under psychiatric medications.
At age 18 I was introduced to meditation. I had an experience of ecstasy--within minutes. Again a knowingness electrified me: "This will be the cornerstone of my life".
Then, my personal darkness hit like a tempest at sea in my twenties. My spiritual practice and my close connection with Suzuki Roshi, a Zen Buddhist teacher, was the anchor that allowed me to stay the course when my mother suicided when I was only 25 years old and 7 months pregnant. My father suicided a year later. The death of my parents came on top of being a new mother, my husband becoming an addict and abusive, my marriage ending, and several other deaths in the immediate family and my extended community--including Suzuki Roshi, my teacher, and the suicide of my employer.
Without meditation and my connection to a meaningful spiritual community and masterful body-oriented psychotherapists I likely would have shipwrecked and fallen into the deeps, (the back wards)--a very human response to total overwhelm.
"What doesn't kill you makes you strong", heh?
Since that time I have been bridging spiritual practices with the best in mental healthcare--to empower others to navigate through life's darker episodes with the same success I had.
In my later twenties I trained as a Somatic Therapist (breathwork and bodywork along with gaining insight) as well as a specialist in peer counseling. In my thirties I completed a PhD at the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology (now called Sophia University). In 1988 I became licensed in California as a Marriage, Family and Child Therapist.
From 1987 to today I have written 7 books and co-produced two documentary films on bridging spirituality and health--and many articles, as well. After all--I personally knew how powerful that bridge is for optimizing wellbeing in the face of overwhelming life challenges! The publishing house, Lightening Up Press, was created to publish my work and supply those wanting information on helping people in spiritual emergency.
My work took me to Brazil, 2001-2012, where I participated in a path of spiritual healing and evolution called "Spiritism". In Brazil it is known as a 'practical path of Christianity'. (Well, only when Christianity is seasoned with the belief in reincarnation, karma, and personal connection to highly evolved spirits, like Christ, who can effect healing as well as be spiritually uplifting.)
I remain deeply impressed with what Spiritists accomplished in their charity, their 13,000+ Community Centers and 50 Spiritist Psychiatric Hospitals: the free services included energy work, medical intuition, training as a healer, discussion of existential questions, and (gratefully) no proselytizing--but really compassionate fellowship!
Returning to the USA in 2012 I wanted to bring home the treasures I had experienced in Brazil. I wanted to make it easier for consumers to understand and utilize the connection between spirituality and wellbeing--the cornerstone of the success of Spiritist healing.
In 2013 I launched "Integrative Mental Health University"--a not for profit, online learning site. I continue to be Executive Director of this educational entity. Currently we Certify "Spiritual Emergence Coaches®" and offer 40+ courses. Once a year I take a group of healthcare providers to Brazil to experience the Spiritist path of mental healthcare, and learn from Spiritist MDs. One of the largest Spiritist Psychiatric Hospitals in Brazil considers me their "Ambassador"--and opens their doors to groups of healthcare professionals I bring who want to learn about them..
I continue to be in private practice, under the title "Spiritual Alliances," coaching individuals and families. Most of my consulting happens online through skype or zoom.us--as people from all over the world reach out to me for guidance and support--while increasing numbers face spiritual emergency. In 2021 I also teamed with Dr. Benjamin Asher to offer Ketamine-Assisted Psychotherapy in Windsor, VT.
As of 2017 I am also consulting with staff and administration at residential treatment centers. Our aim: to enhance care of clients by drawing from the spirituallity that is common to us all.