Letter from Rev. Jon Nestor

May 17, 2019

Dear WPCA Members and Friends,

I understand that tomorrow (Saturday, May 18), many of you are meeting to officially close AAPC-Northwest. I’m saddened that this is necessary. Ever since I became associated with AAPC in 1989, AAPC has been a significantly meaningful part of my life. I began attending AAPC-Northwest’s semi-annual meetings in the Fall of 1990. At that time, we were meeting every Fall at the Alton Collins Retreat Center in Sandy, OR, and every Spring in various Retreat Centers (e.g. Dumas Bay) in Western Washington. These semi-annual retreats became a regularly anticipated, regularly occurring, and formative part of my professional life. During that decade, Kristie and I were living in Tacoma, and had no way of knowing that she and I would be abruptly forced to leave the State of Washington to literally flee for our lives in April, 2001.

We wound up on the Central Oregon Coast, where we did our best to put our lives back together. A year earlier, almost to the day, Paula Hoyt and I had begun our study of Clinical Supervision in the brand-new Supervisor Formation Program offered through Pastoral Therapy Associates. At the time of Kristie’s and my untimely and unanticipated departure from Tacoma, we had to leave everything. Because AAPC-Northwest included the State of Oregon, as well as the States of Washington, Idaho, and Alaska, along with the Canadian Provinces of British Columbia and Alberta, AAPC-Northwest was the only part of Kristie’s and my life that we did not have to give up. As I continued to actively participate in AAPC-Northwest as a resident of Oregon throughout the first and second decades of the twenty-first century, AAPC-Northwest served as a bridge – and in 2001, the only bridge – between what was so familiar to both of us in Tacoma (WA) and what was to become familiar to me decades later in Yachats and Newport (OR).

I could share a lifetime of stories about my association with AAPC-Northwest. To this day, these stories remain in my memory. However, now the organization that served as a linchpin for me as I experienced the trauma of those opening years of the twenty-first century is fading away. Perhaps it will live on for many of you through the Washington Pastoral Counseling Association. As I began to recover from the trauma that Kristie and I both experienced, I tried to form the Oregon Pastoral Counseling Association. For a little more than a decade, I made repeated and concerted efforts to form and cultivate relationships among pastoral and counseling organizations in Oregon. With rare exceptions, I was either mocked by the
pastors or written off by the counselors. Whenever I consulted with pastoral counselors in Oregon to see if they were interested in gathering for purposes similar to what I had experienced in AAPC-Northwest, and joining me in forming the Oregon Pastoral Counseling Association, those whom I approached to join me in this purposeful and intentional venture were either not interested or didn’t have the time. Especially after having been saturated in the spirit of AAPC – and in particular, in the spirit of AAPC-Northwest –experiencing all of this has been an immense heartache for me.

While the idea of an Oregon Pastoral Counseling Association is still attractive to me, I cannot form this organization by myself. I’m aware that I might have taken the wrong approach to forming – or at least helping to form – this organization. Therefore, I’m open to learning from others what a better approach might be, as well as how to execute it. However, ever since I recovered from my heart-valve replacement surgery in September of 2012, the teachings of Carl Jung have deeply affected my life and work. In January, 2014, I began reading many of his writings, including his Collected Works on a daily basis. I maintained this discipline for four years, as I tried to find a PhD program in Depth Psychology in which I could further explore Jung’s writings while incorporating a depth psychological dimension into my practice of pastoral counseling. Finally, in August, 2017, I began work on my PhD in Psychology at Saybrook University. My specialization is Consciousness, Spirituality, and Integrative Health. This specialization makes my PhD program a Depth Psychology program. I’m fully invested in this PhD program. I’m about to complete my second year in this program, look forward to completing its class component in 2022, and to completing my Dissertation in 2025. I have already completed and submitted my Research Proposal to the Institutional Review Board this past January. For my Dissertation, I will be using Case Study Research Methodology to investigate how Jungian individuation impacts the clinical supervisory relationship. As a by-product of this investigation, I will be essentially testing my Model of Clinical Supervision that I developed en route to becoming a Diplomate in AAPC.

Professionally, I would like to become a Jungian Analyst, and combine my interests in Pastoral Counseling and Jungian Analytic Psychology in a variety of professional activities, such as teaching, and professional writing, in addition to my clinical practice of Pastoral Counseling and Clinical Supervision.

Tragically, Kristie died at the end of August, 2016 after battling a host of auto-immune diseases (including leukemia) for much of her life, but especially in the past two decades. Her death left a huge hole in my life, for we were truly soulmates in every sense of the word. However, through the help of many people, as well as through my own practice of spiritual disciplines, I have learned to internalize Kristie. Of particular help to me were the men in the Cancer Support Group that I joined two years before Kristie’s cancer came out of remission. I joined that group first because Kristie had leukemia (which was in remission at the time I
joined). I wanted to learn more about cancer, its treatment, and the effects it had on peoples’ lives. I had no idea when I joined that, two, years later, these men would – along with other people – basically carry me as I grieved Kristie’s death. With the help of many support systems, I have learned to cope with my physical loss of her. Today, I know that she is still a spiritual part of me, and the two of us continue to dialogue with each other on a daily basis. In this regard, I know that she continues to support what I’m doing today, just like she supported my activities and involvement with AAPC-Northwest.

So, while I’m saddened by the closing of AAPC-Northwest, I will be carrying my memories of it, as well as its teachings and experiences forward into my future life and work. In this sense, the spirit of AAPC-Northwest will live on in my heart, life, and work. In order to stay in touch with as many of you as possible in the coming months and years, I’m actively planning to join the Washington Pastoral Counselors Association. I look forward to maintaining and further cultivating our relationships with each other now and in the future as opportunities present themselves.

With deepest thanks and blessings,

Rev. Jon Nestor, MEd, LPC, LMHC, NCC

Honoring AAPC’s Formal Ending & Jerry Smith’s Contributions

At a gathering Sunday, May 19th, 2019, former members and friends of American Association of Pastoral Counselors and AAPC Northwest met to acknowledge the formal ending of both organizations. About thirty people came to the home of Marcia Matthaei, who hosted the gathering. Counselors and friends shared stories and spoke of the profound importance of AAPC to them in their professional growth and spiritual journey. Together we grieved this ending, this turning of the times. Read AAPC Oregon member Jon Nestor’s reflections regarding his experiences with the organization.

Paul Shoup represented AAPC NW. Jerry Smith represented Washington Pastoral Counselors Association, the group that remains, and will continue to be the vehicle to gather people desiring to fellowship together and support each other, to deepen and to grow.

Former members of AAPC desiring to maintain membership in a comparable professional organization may explore joining the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education:  https://www.acpe.edu/ACPE/Psychotherapy

 

Also at this gathering, The Reverend Dr. Jerry Smith, Th.D. was honored for his many years of elegant
contributions to the craft of pastoral counseling in this region. Stories and much love were
shared, a reading presented, (see below) and a plaque given to Jerry.

Quote from Teresa of Avila

“There is a secret place.
A radiant sanctuary.
As real as your own kitchen.
More real than that.
Constructed of the purest elements.
Overflowing with the ten thousand beautiful things.
Worlds within worlds.
Forests, rivers.
Velvet coverlets thrown over featherbeds, fountains bubbling beneath a canopy of stars.
Bountiful forests, universal libraries.
A wine cellar offering an intoxication so sweet you will never be sober again.
A clarity so complete you will never again forget.
This magnificent refuge is inside you.
Enter.
Shatter the darkness that shrouds the doorway…
Believe the incredible truth that the Beloved has chosen for [Her] dwelling place,
the core of your own being, because that is the single most beautiful place in all of creation.”

The Universe as a Hologram (with video)

by The Rev. Dr. Jerry F. Smith, S.T.D., WPCA President

What if you had a magic carpet that would take you to anywhere in the universe? Well, you do!

Let me explain. On many credit cards there is a little silvery picture. When you tilt it seems to move and be three-dimensional—it’s a hologram. Holograms are different from the usual two-dimensional pictures you can take or can hang on your wall. If you were to cut a square out of a two-dimensional image and somehow project it, you would get the exact content of that square. If you cut a square out of a hologram and project it, you will get an exact replica the whole, entire, 3-D figure.

But, you ask, how did you get from credit cards to the universe? I recently viewed a youtube video entitled, “The Universe as a Hologram” by Leonard Susskind.

Dr. Susskind is a world class theoretical physicist and he and his colleagues think that black holes and the universe we live in, are holograms. That is, any place you are in a black hole or in this universe, with the right equipment, you can get to any other place because they’re all inter-connective systems.

Since the beginning of time humans have had “holographic” visions. People we call saints and/or holy ones have related these visions up until the present day. I have a friend, who I can swear is psychologically sound, who told me that they “saw and traveled to” the afterlife and this universe, in all their dimensions, just last week.

How does this apply to systemic counselors and their patients? I use the term “systemic counselors” to mean counselors who see all things as systems where all of the parts are related to every other part and affect everything in the system. If you have a systemic pastoral counseling viewpoint, you are capable of entering any place in a patients’ world, with access to any other part of their world.

This systemic perspective is invaluable when working with an individual, a couple, a family, or a group. Systemic pastoral counselors can observe the seemingly most trivial statement, act, or thought and connect it to the core of the issue. That being done, they can help their patients access resources that can lift them out of their problem. This is a far cry from the evidence-based, manualized, or prescriptive counseling that dominates our field.

I can share a clinical example. A colleague was sitting with a family—Chuck, the father, Rosemary, the mother, Andy, the 19 year old son, and Judy, the 15 year old daughter. Judy came in with tears in her eyes, but was mute. After the usual pleasantries, Rosemary mentioned, in passing, that a letter came in the mail today. Obviously, something had gone on before they got to my colleague’s office, but they were mum about it. Among the chit chat Judy kept dabbing at her eyes. Finally, my colleague asked, “You mentioned a letter. What did it say?” And ALL HELL BROKE LOSE!

A simple question, but the answer contained the family’s black hole and the whole universe of suffering they shared.

We at WCPA enthusiastically celebrate every one of you who practices in this way. And we wish you wonder-filled journeys as you ride your magic carpet into your adventures.

Write and tell us about where you are making a difference.

With warmest blessings, Jerry

The Confessional & Confidentiality

by The Rev. Dr. Jerry F. Smith, S.T.D., WPCA President

Washington Pastoral Counselors Association’s (WPCA) motto is, “With you in faith, hope, and love.” So, how does that apply when you are trying to serve your clients and make a living?

One of the geniuses about pastoral counseling is its willingness to stand with you while you embrace some difficult paradoxes. So, where do you look for support in navigating the nearly impossible dilemmas raised by honoring the confidentiality of the people you see?

On one hand, pastoral counselors draw from a most ancient, sacred, and spiritual wellspring; practices and traditions go back to pre-Christian, shamanic origins. On the other, each of us intimately touches all aspects of this current age. We face baffling questions posed by massive internet exposure and the agonizing quandaries of managed care.

Most pastoral counselors have a choice regarding the confidentiality of conversations that take place within the counseling space. Of course, state, federal, and business (i.e., the insurance indus- try) exert influence on just how much can remain secret, and who may breach that privacy boundary. Government often asserts that the needs of the many (e.g., homeland security) or the vulnerable (e.g., at risk children and adults) trump client confidentiality. Third- party insurers/payees also require certain private details of therapeutic conversations be disclosed. Many pastoral counselors regularly face the gut- wrenching balancing act of seeking to honor client communications while saying just enough to satisfy other interested parties.

Other pastoral counselors adhere to some version of the doctrine of the seal of the confessional. As early as 1115 CE the Roman Catholic Church declared the seal of the confessional as law stat- ing, “Let the priest who dares to make known the sins of his penitent be de- posed”, and “be made a life-long, ignominious wanderer.” While this language seems overly dramatic and harsh for the twenty-first century, the principle of never revealing any part of a confession stands to this day.

Even Washington State law recognizes that any person who is designated as a confessor, by her/his religious organization is exempt from disclosing any- thing shared in that confessional moment.

WPCA recognizes that our sisters and brothers of high integrity, good will, and compassionate souls choose different paths with regard to client confidentiality. Many who choose to collaborate with the State and managed care entities practice the style of pastoral counseling without the “confessor” title. In doing so, they re- port to appropriate governmental agencies to protect the vulnerable in danger of harm, and some work with insurance companies to supplement their income. These pastoral counselors offer the graces of the practice without an official religious mandate.

Those who operate under the umbrella of a religious body claim the rights and exemptions of the confessor to reveal nothing they hear. They contend that they protect the vulnerable by encouraging those who do harm to atone for harmful deeds and make amends to their victims. Sometimes this includes supporting and/or requiring the offender in turning themselves in to the authorities.

I suggest the following:

  • We honor colleagues’ choices regarding how they employ confidentiality and the confessional as their circumstances allow.
  • We affirm and support the view- points of other pastoral counsel- ors regarding how they keep secrets and make their money.
  • We open respectful dialogue about confidentiality and the confessional to advance our under- standings.

I wonder if WPCA might sponsor a professional workshop (6 CEUs) to dialogue more on the subjects of confidentiality and the confessional, and of course, enjoy a fine lunch. With warmest blessings, Jerry

A Bridge Between Chalkboard Science and the Metaphysical Soul

by The Rev. Dr. Jerry F. Smith, S.T.D., WPCA President

The field of Pastoral Psychotherapy is charged with the daunting task of creating a bridge between the “hard” neurosciences and the experience of the metaphysical soul. It seeks to maintain the integrity of each, while heightening the dialogue between them. “Hard” neurosciences ultimately contend that human experience consists of neurochemical processes, rationally expressible as a series of mathematical equations and chemical formulae. What is real, from this perspective, must explicitly yield scientific evidence, as governed by scientific method, and agreed upon by a certain assigned body of peer professionals. This is no recent idea. Manuscripts from Neolithic times cite that ancient Egyptians and contemporary cultures sought the locus of many human problems in the brain, and Sigmund Freud, the founder of modern day psycho- therapy, spent his early career as a brain pathologist seeking the origins of human mental disorders in brain tissue. However vast literature — which includes, but is not limited to, religious traditions of Islam, Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism, and Hinduism — also supports the human experience as metaphysical, wherein reality can transcend that which is perceptible to human senses, and to our intellect.

Metaphysical is defined as the study of what is fundamental to nature and being, and it grapples with two questions: “What is real?” and “What are the properties of that reality?” When amplified these questions evolve into concerns over existence, objects and their properties, space and time, cause and effect, and possibility. Expanding the field to include trans-personal psychology provides an even richer picture. This approach to psychology grew out of other schools including psychoanalysis, behaviorism, and humanistic psychology; it studies the transpersonal and self-transcendent, or spiritual aspects, of the human experience, and attempts to describe and integrate spiritual experience within modern psychological theory. The concerns of transpersonal psychology include the recognition, understanding, and realization of unitive, spiritual, and transcendent states of consciousness, and it considers issues including spiritual self- development, self beyond the ego, peak experiences, mystical experiences, systemic trance and other sublime and/or unusually expanded experiences of living.

Stark separation between “hard” neurosciences and metaphysics is relatively recent. Until the late eighteenth century, before the advent of the scientific method, the physical and meta-physical had a very congenial interchange around the material and non-material nature of existence. Aristotle, one of the originators of Western science and philosophy, posited an integrated interchange between these two aspects of human experience. And, allowed to converse freely, these two realms birthed astonishing results, like the theory of Relativity.

Sadly, however, while Carl Jung and others laid the legitimate cornerstones of the spiritual and trans-personal in their work, current Western psychology tends to ignore, or disengage from, the spiritual dimension of the human psyche. Nevertheless, pastoral counselors embrace the inclusive dialogical process, and continue to advocate for free, respectful, and non-judgmental discussion between these two parts of our human inquiry. Pastoral counseling establishes a series of contexts that allow for the study, and treatment of the whole human condition.

So, my final questions are: “How do you maintain that free, respectful, and non-judgmental discussion within yourself?” and “How do you enter into it with the broadest spectrum of your professional colleagues?” Please write and tell us your experiences. With warmest blessings, Jerry