Welcome to this site on wisdom and spiritual psychology.
My name is Merlin. I have been a psychologist in New Zealand for over 20 years. I have worked in prisons, probation offices, addiction treatment agencies and anger management/stopping violence programmes. Nowadays, as I approach my 60th year, I am semi-retired and work part time for a busy community mental health service. I deal with the problems of depression, anxiety, trauma, the effects of abuse, grief, head injury, drugs and alcohol, self harm, stress and lots more.
The older I get, the more I aim for simplicity in my assessments and treatments. Wherever possible I avoid complicated testing – I ask people what has gone wrong in their lives, and they tell me! In therapy, I have found myself saying much the same things to my clients over and again and I am struck by the fact that the suggestions I make are not complex and they require very little by way of specialised learning, or complicated application. On the contrary, they seem to me to be the applications of wisdom, and what is more, a wisdom that has been around for centuries and can be found in all the great traditions that involve the compassionate assistance of others. (In saying this, I am not implying that I am somehow wise. That would be arrogant and besides, my wife would collapse in fits of helpless laughter at the very thought!)
Karen Armstrong in the introduction to her wonderful book The Great Transformation, has said:
“We are meaning seeking creatures and, unlike other animals, fall very easily into despair if we cannot find significance and value in our lives.
“Many of our difficulties mask a deeper spiritual crisis…”
A sense of the spiritual is sadly lacking in much of modern psychology, which seems to deny (or is not aware) that spirituality is a significant – even essential part of human existence. Various regimes have, from time to time, endeavoured to stamp it out. They have always failed miserably.
I often invite people to consider what amounts to a spiritual dimension when working towards a resolution of their problems. By spiritual, however, I do not mean religious. Obviously there is a substantial overlap between spirituality and religion, but for me, as a psychologist, to advocate religion to my clients, be this catholic, protestant, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist etc., would be inappropriate and unethical.
I think we can discern principles of spirituality which are separate from denominational religion. Principles such as transcendence, non-attachment, meaning, purpose of life, love, compassion, and practises such as meditation and mindfulness. It is these principles I wish to concern myself with.
My intention is that this site will be a mixture of practical “wisdom psychology” and ways of looking at life’s problems which have more of a “spiritual” component.
I am happy to answer questions, but I will not enter into theological or denominational debates.
Nothing on this site is copyrighted. If something here could be of value in lessening someone’s suffering and distress, please use it. (Passing it off as your own work and making money out of it could generate a bit of bad karma though!)
Do be aware that no site like this can be an adequate substitute for comprehensive therapy. If you need help, seek it from someone who can provide it face to face.