Where Do I Start?

Divine Holistic Healing

Compassion and Healing

Putting Your Passion Into Practice

It seems many people are deciding to make changes in this world of economic woes. Following their spiritual passion and turning that pull or calling into a career.

But where do you get started? How do you find the right certification or degree program for your passion?

No matter what you do in life, you’re going to spend a good of time and potentially money on your calling. You don’t want to waste it on someone you thought was qualified to teach and later discovered they weren’t what they claimed.

Sadly this is easy to do in the spiritual world. There is no oversight or governing body that makes these checks and balances for you. You’re going to have to do it for yourself. Word of mouth is usually a great way to find a teacher. But remember, no one is ever universally liked. So you’re going to have to weigh the negative reviews with the positive ones.

Define The Right Path
No matter what path you’re talking about, healing or counseling, finding the right method for you is going to be your first task. There are hundreds of different types of healing methods and an equal number of spiritual paths to follow. You already have interests and beliefs, you’re going to want to find those modalities that fit with your views.

Now let’s take a step back for a quick second. Everyone reading this probably has a general understanding of holistic, spiritual or alternative healing, but you’re going to have to get specific as to what your interest there is going to be.  Are you looking for hands on healing or a healing method that utilizes a certain type of tool, such as crystals, massage, acupressure and so on?

Pagan Metaphysics

The Balance of Physics with Metaphysics

Counseling can fall into several types of categories as well. Most people who tell me they want to help people, haven’t taken the time to think that through. Great, you have a desire, but how do you want to help people? Are you talking about Spiritual counseling as in therapy? Are you talking about psychic readings? Are you talking about becoming a Minister or Priest/Priestess who offers a specific kind of “spiritual” support, advice or counseling?Your first step is to take your generic interest and narrow it down to the details. You want to help people heal, that’s nice. But now define how you want to do that.

Find The Right Modality
Once you’ve detailed your interest, you’re now going to have to define the modality of that interest. If you’re talking about holistic healing, you have a wide range of choices. Some of the current holistic healing methods today are:

  • Acupuncture
  • Aroma Therapy
  • Chiropractic Care
  • Crystal Healing
  • Feng Shui
  • Light/Color Therapy
  • Pilates Conditioning
  • Reflexology
  • Reiki
  • Tai Chi
  • Therapeutic Touch
  • Yoga
  • And many many more

And even some of these have further varying methods beneath them. For instance, there are many methods of Reiki today, traditional Usui Reiki, Tummo Reiki, Karuna Reiki and many more. Some of these aren’t Reiki, but have taken the name and added it to their method of healing. So you’re going to have to think about what it is you really want to do, in order to begin your search for training.

question-markStart Your Investigation
When you’re looking for something, but you’re not completely sure what it is, remember you have the Library of Alexandria at your finger tips. The internet is a fantastic source for information. The problem is, it’s a fantastic source for good and bad information. But there’s a good method to weeding out the bad and finding what’s right for you.

When you find a subject that draws in your interest, make sure you try to discover some key information points. Learn about:

  • Learn a little about the method itself to make sure it will fit with your perspectives and beliefs.
  • Find out the history of that method: Who created it, where do they say it comes from.
  • How was it created and formed, how is it passed on.

If you still feel drawn to that method, the next step is to learn about the creator them self and discover what authority, knowledge and understanding they had/have to create the method they’re credited with.

Still interested? Find out what others think of this path and how has it been perceived and accepted into the community you’re most familiar with.

Remember, if you’re pagan and you’re looking for a spiritual path, your views maybe more accepting of certain methods of healing and counseling than someone who might be Christian. You’re going to have to weigh your perspectives not only against those who are critiquing what you’ve found, but from what perspective you think they’re coming from as well. A negative review by a Christian, might not be a valid point coming from another pagan.

When you’re satisfied with the history and credentials of those who established this path you’re interested in, see if you can find out how their method is taught and shared.

Finding The Right Training
You’re going to start your search for what you’re most interested in. Certification vs a Degree program. Certifications can be acquired by an individual authorized to offer certifications, or from a formal organization that provides certified trainers to teach courses that allow you test for certification. Degree programs are (or should) be offered by authorized and well established organizations.

Let’s start with certifications.
Look for an organization that helps you locate a trainer/teacher with a reputable lineage to the creator or source of the method you’re interested in.

Traditional Reiki Hanko

Traditional Reiki Hanko

Here’s an example:
If you’re interested in traditional Usui Reiki there’s only one organization that provides oversight and governance of Usui Reiki Masters and that’s The Reiki Alliance. A Master must apply to the organization and prove their lineage, knowledge and practice of maintaining the traditional values to be part of its membership. In full disclosure, I’m in the process of my application to the Alliance. I’ve made my application and I’ve had two interviews as part of the verification process.

An organization like this can do a lot of the work for you when looking for authorized certification. Take the time to look for one that might provide oversight for your modality. If you find one, make sure you check them out too. Anyone can put “official” or “national” in their name and sell a service or product. Look for who gave them the authority to be the official governing body.  The easiest way to do this is search for governing body licensure certification method where the method is what ever it is you’re interested in, acupressure or whatever.

But your chosen method or modality may not have such an organization. In which case you’re going to have to verify the trainer/teacher yourself. Don’t be afraid to question someone who claims they’re an expert in that modality. Anyone worth their salt will have no problem sharing their education history and validating their credentials. If they do have a problem with that, walk away. That tells me either they are not what they claim, or they have too much ego involved to be a good teacher.

If you don’t have a good feeling about them, no matter how slight that feeling might be, don’t take training from them. There’s a reason your gut instinct is telling you to move on and find someone else. Certifications on a wall can be faked. So don’t take a piece of paper as the final authority on the person you’re trying to learn from. Check them out and see you can find any reviews of their classes or programs. It’s your money and time you’re spending. Don’t waste it and regret later that you didn’t make the effort up front to check someone out.

When you do find someone who has the credentials and has a proven track record, you should be able to ascertain how to get training and certification in the modality you’ve chosen. Good luck! Stick to it.

Writing Your Thesis or Dissertation

Academic Training

University Degree Programs
As for degree programs in spiritual practices, such a spiritual minister, teacher, counselor and so on, look for a legitimate seminary organization.

Here the spiritual part, is going to depend on how you want to define your spirituality. To my knowledge there isn’t a Hogwarts you can apply to and attend. Sorry.  There aren’t many Pagan universities out there offering higher degrees in spirituality. There are many people claiming to have an established school for Wicca, but the question you need to research is what does that mean to them, and where do they get their source material? Also check how long they’ve been in business. If they’ve been around for a while, you should be able to find a lot of information about them through out the internet. Even in the news.

Check its history and credentials. But also do a few legal searches for lawsuits brought against the institution. If you find none, you have a good chance on finding an institution that’s reliable. Of course that doesn’t mean they maybe completely on the up and up. So you should also check for critiques of the organization and complaints. But when you do that, consider the source. Some competitors of organizations will fake complaints to bring in money to their own business.

Today you might even find programs at mainstream universities on pagan beliefs and practices. Some of these don’t offer degree programs, but their courses are often well-organized and fairly factual.

A degree in Spirituality is exactly like any mainstream religious degree program. For instance, I have a bachelors in Metaphysical Science. I continued that degree program and acquired a Masters in Metaphysical Science. A doctorate degree in a spiritual modality or religion is called a Doctorate of Divinity (D.D.). My Doctorate is a Doctorate Of Divinity in Metaphysical Sciences. In some religious organizations, the Bachelors includes licensure as a Minister of that faith.

A Doctorate in Divinity doesn’t give you the knowledge to be a Spiritual Psychologist. It might give you the knowledge to minister to a congregation and provide spiritual guidance, but that’s not the same thing as offering therapy or counseling.

Counseling is counseling, so my first suggestion for those interesting in spiritual therapy/counseling is to find a local community college that offers psychology courses and go back to school. You don’t have to spend the next 4 to 8 years working toward a doctorate in psychology. There’s a difference between a therapist and a psychologist. Mostly time and money. But if you’re serious about helping people in this type of service, you should at least have the basic understandings of psychology and therapy.

readingIf you want to further that degree in a specific religious perspective, many university systems offer Spiritual Counseling degrees. For instance, my Ph.D. is a Doctorate of Philosophy, specializing in Pastoral Counseling Psychology. If you want to learn more about the degree program I went through, you can read my perspective of the I.M.M University Seminary – University of Sedona.

Just Do It
At some point you’re going to have to stop searching and researching to get to the mission you’ve set your feet on. Don’t do the research for your passion and then do nothing with it because you think you can’t afford it. Many organizations will offer scholarships or price breaks. And even if they don’t advertise that, don’t let that stop you from asking for it.

Some individual teachers will set up a payment option for students. Others will know about programs you can apply to that help fund your education. And all University systems offer scholarships of some type. The worst thing someone can say to you is “Sorry No, we can’t do that”. You can over come that, because someone out there with the same credentials will say yes.

Don’t let the fear or blocks that get in your way keep you from trying to attain your dream and live your passion. When you can live your dream it’s a lot less like work and a lot more like fulfillment of joy and happiness. But sometimes getting to that goal, take a little work and effort on your part. You can do it! You simply have to start at the beginning and go for it!

Additional Reading:

Getting Started On Your Spiritual Path – Starting Your Own Spiritual Journey

© Springwolfs Hanko

© 2014 Springwolf, D.D., Ph.D. Springwolf Reflections / Springs Haven, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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