Teri Nehring is an American Counseling Association member who works with individuals from all walks of life — from trauma victims to the Oneida Tribe of American Indians. As reiki master, certified breathworker and shamanic practitioner, Nehring says what she has found to work best with all of her counseling clients is an infusion of both Eastern and Western counseling approaches. Nehring says she truly believes that the utilization of both of these practices combined with energy work is the new wave of contemporary therapy. For more on Eastern and Western approaches to counseling, read Counseling Today’s October cover story, “Where East meets West.”
What techniques do you specialize in?
I specialize in mental health/drug and alcohol issues with an emphasis in trauma work and empowerment training. I have been able to blend reiki, breathwork, chakra clearing meditation, mindfulness and shamanic energy-based work in conjunction with traditional strength-based and talk therapy. I have developed my own model of working with clients using all of these tools called Luminous Energy Therapy — “luminous” meaning working with our energetic light or medicine body.
How did you first get involved in Eastern techniques?
I became very interested in Eastern and shamanic energy healing seven years ago when I started to see an influx of clients who were trying to work through chronic pain, fatigue, trauma issues, depression and anxiety, to name a few. Traditional talk therapy combined with constant pain medications was not working to benefit the clients.
Describe a typical session with your clients.
A typical session starts with a dialogue about what the client would like to have more of in their life, and then energetically, I track with the client where the blockage around the core issue is in their energy body. I am looking for the chakra that is nearest to where they identify feeling the issue in their body. When we desire more of something in our life, we have to find the energetic block and identify the core issue or negative messages that we give ourselves. If the client wishes to give detail about the situation they can, but it is not necessary. I then ask the client to close their eyes and to hear and visualize the negative message and where do they feel it in their body. I work with the client to simplify the message.
For example, a client may say, “I never seem to feel confident in myself,” or, “I am always worried that others will not like me.” A core issue statement usually starts with the words “I am not” and then we narrow down what resonates with the client. In the example I used, the core issue may be “I am not good enough” or “I am not enough.”
Sixty percent of the time, people will tell me they feel it in their belly because energetically the belly is where feelings and emotions are energetically held. The other chakra many people feel those negative core issues in is the chest or heart chakra.
I work with the client to begin a connected breath. I also breathe with the client until they have established a steady breathing pattern. The breath is our life force. It is the fuel that powers the body, the amazing vehicle that allows our spirit to live and move around in. Cells have memory and they remember and record every event in our lives that we experience, so when we breathe, we are able to release the negative energy and take a new message and positive energy into the cells through oxygen. Oxygen is the fuel for the cells and through the connected breath we can begin to create a new cellular memory and message.
I use the technique of journeying to help the client identify a place that they feel is safe and that they love being. The client is allowed to bring anything with them except another living being into the sacred and safe place they create for themselves. I often will journey or go with people to their sacred space to do the connected breath work. People feel more relaxed and are able to begin to get in touch the core issue and negative feelings that surround the message.
When the connected breathwork begins and the chakra is opened, energy automatically begins to move along with the emotions connected to it. I coach people to continue to breathe as the emotions begin to arise and move through and out of the body. It is important that people continue to breathe because often when we feel negative emotions, we stop breathing and then the body holds the negative energy. When the energy is held it usually finds the weakest area and our body and locks itself in. This often becomes the origin for chronic pain and fatigue along with a host of other physical ailments.
Once the client begins to release the energy, I continue to track with the client what are they feeling in their body and where. Energy can sometimes become stuck, so I work to open other chakras as the energy moves so it can be released through that chakra.
Once the energy is released, many times there is inner child work that needs to take place. I will again journey with the client to their sacred place or sanctuary to begin working with the child within through a dialogue that starts the process of nurturing and restoring what the inner child most needs to feel safe and loved.
If the inner child work needs to done, I work with the client to develop his or her own new positive core message starting again with “I am.” I have the client repeat the new positive message out loud three times while holding their hands on top of their heart. This helps them bring awareness and a new message in to the cells and is received on a soul level.
This is the spiritual piece of the work, which then unites and completes the integration of mind, body and spirit, which most traditional therapies cannot help our clients to do. All the chakras that were unwound and opened are then closed as they are now clear of any negative energy.
The client is given a notecard to record the new message or affirmation on and is directed to keep the notecard in a place where they will see it several times a day. Every time they see the card they are asked to say the affirmation out loud to themselves.
An assignment that creates action and meaning connected to the session work that has been completed is given to help the client nurture themselves. This allows the client to honor the sacred and powerful work they have completed and to continue to help integrate the new positive message on an energetic and cognitive level.
When we begin to understand that the body is more than just physical, that is has several subtle energetic fields that surround it, we can then begin the process of helping clients to heal and restore on all levels.
In this work, I find that I can help a client to resolve and to restore themselves on all levels 50 percent faster than traditional talk therapy. A typical client can create a meaningful and strengths-based resolution in three to five sessions. Clients also are given tools that allow them to practice the process outside of the therapy session.
What kinds of clients do you see?
I see clients [ranging from] teenagers to adults with mental health, alcohol and other drug abuse, and trauma issues. I also am a personal trainer and work [with] clients who want to take part in personal/business empowerment and transformation by understanding their authenticity, speaking their truth, owning it and stepping into themselves.
Why do you believe it is important it to integrate Eastern and Western approaches to counseling?
I believe that many of the Western modalities only address mind and body. When we begin to understand the principles of the Eastern practices, then we begin to come from a place of integrating the spiritual pieces that complete our healing on a soul level.
What kinds of misconceptions arise — if any — surrounding your techniques?
Fear is the biggest obstacle that stands in the way of understanding and progress. We are creatures of habit and this rings true even in the counseling field. We all have our favorite modalities that we are confident in working with. Sometimes it is difficult to allow oneself to get out of the box and experience something that may be outside of our comfort zone.
What sort of counselors do you recommend trying Eastern approaches?
I believe Eastern modalities should be encouraged for all types of counselors to look at the potential of how they can integrate these approaches and tools into their practice for the benefit of their clients.
Where should counselors look for more information about the subject?
Counselors can find information all over the Internet and in bookstores. Keywords are energy therapy, holistic approaches to healing, reiki, shamanism and breathwork.
Heather Rudow is a staff writer for Counseling Today. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.