Are psychology and parapsychology all that different, and can pursuing one overflow into the territory of the other?

A friend of mine had never been interested in the paranormal and had never been in therapy before her parents died. These deaths devastated my friend, who sought no counseling -- but became fascinated with TV psychics. Soon she began visiting psychics herself. This new passion led her to devour workshops and books on New Age topics. Whenever she told me what she had gleaned from a session, workshop or book, I found myself realizing that I'd had similar revelations myself -- in psychotherapy.

I spent years in therapy. As it happens, I'm also a lifelong believer in the paranormal. I've always kept the two separate. Psychology is about fixing my head. Parapsychology is about the fascinating possibility that people can communicate without words and without necessarily being alive. For me, parapsychology has always been a field of interest not unlike Chinese history or seashells. It was not about me.

But for my friend, it was about her. The aura readers and clairvoyants she consulted said things that spurred my friend to re-examine her childhood, her relationships, motivations, life-course -- which led her to say the exact same things I'd said in therapy: Why was I assigned certain roles in my family of origin? Why do I let everyone steamroll me? Does my career have meaning?

For different reasons, we asked ourselves the exact same questions, which prompted the same healing epiphanies for both of us.

I recently received a review copy of Contact Your Spirit Guides, a handbook whose author works as a professional chennel under the name Asandra. This seemed like a good opportunity to interview someone in the field of parapsychology about how her pursuits intersect, if at all, with psychology.

Q. Has anyone ever accused you of just hearing "voices in your head" rather than actual spirit guides?

A. Never, in the nearly 28 years that I have been working professionally as a channel, has anyone accused me of this. The level of wisdom and guidance that these entities disseminate, and the degree of articulacy employed is of such an extraordinary nature, that it is clear to the recipient of the guidance that it could not possibly be "voices" in my "head."

Furthermore, the Spirit Guides address the individual's issues with great eloquence and often touch the heart so deeply that the otherworldly nature of its origin is evident. ... My clients call me by telephone from all over the world. I know nothing about them, including even what they look like, and yet the Guides that disseminate through me have the capacity to speak to that individual's path in a manner that suggests an intimate awareness of who they are at the deep soul level.

If someone did suggest [that I was "hearing voices"], I wouldn't even feel the necessity to defend myself. The clarity and quality of the information relayed through me speaks for itself. ... I am acutely aware that the benevolent beings speaking through me have unconditional love, compassion, and support for the individuals whom are open to receive their guidance and wisdom. Furthermore, I have many clients whom are credentialed therapists that have never voiced concern.

Q. Critics would argue that purely anecdotal experiences -- which cannot be scientifically proven -- are nonsense. How did you come me to believe that what you were experiencing was real and neither your imagination nor wishful thinking nor sheer coincidence?

A. My experience in working with Spirit began when several entities visited me, moving through me in specific ways that were unfamiliar to me. These experiences were entirely, initially, nonverbal. For example ... there was one early experience of a martial arts expert who came into my body, stood up, and demonstrated some very specific martial art postures along with the corresponding animal sounds, with such authority that it with clear to me that this was an individual entity and not my imagination. I did not at that time, nor do I now, have any personal experience of the martial arts.

Q. Do you think your work provides any kind of psychological benefit for your clients?

A. Yes, in fact ... I often say that having a session with ones' Guides is like meeting with a combination therapist and guru. They almost invariably address the core psychological/emotional issues that might be preventing the individual from experiencing fulfillment. Spirit often explains to the individual who is having the session the necessity of addressing their core emotional issues in order to reveal, unblock, and release what might be causing any deep, unconscious patterns. These hidden patterns may be sabotaging that individual's ability to experience wholeness. This is one of the things that make a session particularly potent.

Oftentimes, the individual may not be aware of the pattern and the Guide(s) can shed light on what is unseen. They also provide tools for acknowledging and clearing the subconscious content. Spirit will reflect back to that individual their true nature as a healed, whole being. The unconditionally loving beings that are guiding us have a vast overview of our journey on the soul path. They see us in nonlinear time. This means that they see us beyond exterior, sensory-level identifiers, and hold the energetic space of us as complete and whole.

For example, an individual may be carrying a subconscious memory that is affecting their ability to break through or function in some capacity in their life. Spirit often explains that we come into this life with the necessity to address those issues which appear in our life, interwoven in the circumstances that we are born into. In other words, the circumstances and experiences that one encounters will be the catalyst to awaken these dormant issues. This enables the individual to first come upon challenges or obstacles, and then address, and heal them. ...

That being said, if an individual has severe psychological issues or mental illness, it is NOT appropriate for me to channel for them. In this case, a licensed therapist is of absolute necessity, and would be advised. I would never take on a client whose emotional needs strictly require a trained counselor, and would stop working with them if this becomes apparent. Channeling does not replace psychotherapy or any of the counseling arts. It can often be a complement.

Q. How has your work expanded your world psychologically?

A. I have become profoundly aware of the vast wisdom that exists in our universe, if we are open and receptive to it. Every challenge we are faced with is an opportunity for profound growth and awakening. Our Spirit Guides do not tell us what to do, rather they guide and advise. As free-will individuals, we can choose to access and work with this guidance. ...

When issues do arise, I have learned to address these concerns in a non-reactive mode utilizing the methods of interior inquiry that I have been shown from my Spirit Guides. I have learned to take full responsibility for my actions, thoughts, and deeds, and to live life in the consciousness of an aware, fully present being.

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