counselling psychotherapy

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Psychosynthesis: a psychology with a Soul.

Psychosynthesis is known worldwide as ‘a psychology with a soul’. It integrates the best that western psychology has to offer, along with eastern and western spiritual theories, practices and techniques; such as the art of presence, mindfulness, meditation and visualisation.  Psychosynthesis is a holistic approach and can include an exploration of the physical, emotional, psychological, social, sexual, cultural, ecological and spiritual elements and influences on health and well-being.

Exploring spirituality is linked with better health outcomes

Spirituality in this context is often used to describe the deeper essence of who we are, the innate part of us that continuously calls us towards growth and wholeness. This is the spiritual Self, also known as the deeper or higher Self (capital S). The Self is made up of will and consciousness – it is our life force. When connected to our deeper essence, it provides us with renewed vitality, a way of understanding and finding value, meaning and purpose in life.

Roberto Assagioli, MD, the founder of psychosynthesis was a psychoanalyst and neurologist.  Although heavily influenced by eastern and western spirituality, he was adamant that psychosynthesis would be accepted as a respectable scientific theory.

According to recent empirical research by MU College of Arts & Science, exploring spirituality is linked with better health outcomes. Dan Cohen believes that spirituality not only fosters better mental health but may help our relationships by decreasing self-centredness and increasing our sense of connectedness and belonging to a larger whole.

The clinical psychology program at Columbia University is currently experimenting with integrating psychotherapy and spirituality in ways rarely seen at a major research university. Sofia University in California has taught this for some time, psychosynthesis being one of the modalities.

Do I need to be ‘spiritual’?

One critique of a spiritual approach includes a fear that the therapist will not be neutral and may have expectations that we have to be spiritual. In their book, ‘A Psychotherapy of Love’, psychosynthesis authors Firman and Gila write that therapists ‘need to die to their world, in order to love their clients in their worlds.’ This kind of love is altruistic, empathic, selfless and unconditional. Because of its inclusive nature, psychosynthesis is perfect for people from all walks of life. Many people who do not consider themselves spiritual, including atheists have transformed their lives throughout psychosynthesis therapy.

A model of growth and transformation for dealing with crises

Considering global crises, displaced peoples, the widening gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, personal crises such as addictions and a sense of ‘disconnection’ from self and others – it is important that we consider a holistic approach, including spirituality and spiritual influences.

The therapist holds the context that within every crisis, something new is seeking to emerge out of the experienced suffering that will eventually lead us to growth and transformation. Psychosynthesis author Stephanie Sorrel suggests that we cannot avoid all suffering in life, but through suffering, we can “enter into relationship with the world of soul and the potential richness of its wisdom (2009).” We don’t always have control over what comes our way, but we do have a choice about how we relate and respond to these events. Psychosynthesis therapy can help us find new life direction and a sense of empowerment even after the most unimaginable suffering.

Relationship is at the heart of psychosynthesis

Our relationship with our self is the premise for all further relationships. In neuro-psychosynthesis-psychotherapist Dr Stratford’s recent research, she found that a high therapeutic alliance impacted on brain and body; clients felt safer, anxiety was reduced, they gained insight and processed trauma. The empathic, unconditional love and acceptance experienced in therapy allows us to reconnect with our authentic self.  Psychosynthesis gives us a context of hope for resolving difficulties in all of our relationships.

In psychosynthesis therapy

A psychosynthesis therapist is interested in the potential of human nature rather than diagnosis and equating us with our illnesses. The therapist uses ‘bifocal vision’ to see that we are more than our problems. Psychosynthesis practitioner Diana Whitmore writes that we are perceived “as a Self, a being with a purpose in life and with immense potential for love, intelligence and creativity…also as a personality, an individual made up of a unique blend of physical, emotional and mental characteristics” (2000, pg.70).

In therapy we might work through early childhood and past trauma, current issues in the here and now along with exploration of the vast potential for growth, healing and change. Techniques range from talking, dream work, art therapy, journaling, creative visualisation, mindfulness, psycho-education and self-reflection.

The benefits of psychosynthesis therapy

  • Provides a safe space to explore your inner and outer world
  • Learn how your problems could be the catalyst for growth and transformation
  • Find resolution of the pervasive underlying causes of your problems
  • Heal from early childhood trauma and abuse
  • Find freedom from self-destructive thoughts and behaviours
  • Build a toolbox of coping and life skills
  • Build a strong foundation for healthy relationships
  • Increase self-esteem, self-worth and self-confidence
  • Become more intuitive and creative
  • Reconnect with your authentic self
  • Discover value, meaning and purpose in your life
  • Experience self-actualisation and self-realisation

Sign up here to be notified of our next Psychosynthesis training dates.


This article originally appeared on Australia Counselling

Gale, J. (2011). Eating Disorders: A Search for Wholeness. The CAPA Quarterly, Journal of the Counsellors and Psychotherapists Association of NSW (4) pp. 14-17, retrieved from .

Firman, J., & Gila, A. (2010). A Psychotherapy of Love. New York: State University of New York Press.

Ottoman, Sharon. (2012). Merging Spirituality and Clinical Psychology at Columbia. New York Times Online. Retrieved on August 9, 2012 from

About Jodie

Jodie trained at the Institute of Psychosynthesis in London and has nearly 20 years experience in psychosynthesis theory and practice. She is a leading specialist in the field of addiction and eating disorders from a psychospiritual perspective, and women’s emotional, psychological and spiritual health and well-being. Jodie is passionate about putting the SOUL back into therapy!

Image Credit: Amy Covington on Stocksy

I was recently featured on the BodyMatters Blog, Five Tips from Six Experts: Surviving Christmas & New Years Without Dieting

“For many, the temptation to diet is particularly high during this time of year with the combination of summer, swimmers and new years goals which for many of us is a tantalising trifecta.  We are delighted to share some advice from six expert therapists who are well known for their work in supporting people to establish a healthy relationship with food, exercise and their bodies. Thank you to each expert for sharing these tips so generously. Do you notice any themes?” Read the original blog here.

About Jodieas-seen-in-december-16-pink

Sydney Soul-Centred Psychotherapist + Eating Psychology Specialist, Jodie Gale, is a leading specialist in women’s emotional, psychological and spiritual health and well-being. Over the last 20 years, Jodie has helped 100s of women to transform their lives. She has a private supervision, counselling, life-coaching and psychotherapy practice in Manly, Allambie Heights and Frenchs Forest on the Northern Beaches of Sydney. Jodie is passionate about putting the soul back into therapy!

I’m excited to have attended in December 2017, the Psychological Approaches to Obesity training with The Australian Centre for Eating Disorders. In addition to the 5-Day Eating Disorder Essential Course I also completed earlier in 2017, I am now a silver level practitioner.

About The Australian Centre for Eating Disorders (ACFED) via their website:

ACFED train psychotherapists,  psychologists, social workers, counsellors, registered nurses and dieticians in theory and skills related to eating disorders (including anorexia, bulimia, binge eating and orthorexia), obesity and nutrition. If you are looking for an eating disorder specialist in your area, you can find a list of approved practitioners on their website.

“The Australian Centre for Eating Disorders (ACFED) offers training to a wide range of health care professionals on the best practice treatment of eating disorders.  ACFED also provides sufferers and their loved ones with a directory of qualified health professionals, making it easier for them to find the right support.

The Australian Centre for Eating Disorders is the leading independent provider of professional development in Eating Disorders and Obesity for health professionalism Australia and New Zealand.

Their mission is to develop and deliver effective, evidence based professional development opportunities in Eating Disorders and Obesity to health professionals and to develop a network of ACFED Approved health professionals with a high standard of skills and resources.”

Top 6 Women In-Depth Podcasts for Binge and Emotional Eating.

Are you using food to numb feelings, to sooth yourself or as a way of seeking connection with transpersonal qualities such as love? 

Then these Women In-Depth: Conversations About the Inner Lives of Women podcasts are for you! The whole series is a wonderfully rich, depth exploration into the feminine psyche.

Here are my top 6 podcasts to help women who struggle with binge eating, emotional eating, comfort eating and overeating.

One: Podcast 11: Childhood Emotional Neglect: The Invisible Experience with Dr. Jonice Webb

Underlying most eating disorders, disordered eating and other food, weight and body image concerns, is an experience of childhood emotional neglect (CEN). If our feelings and needs have been neglected, we may have turned to food (or other substances) as a way of numbing or soothing ourselves.

In this podcast, clinical psychologist Dr. Jonice Webb discusses what childhood emotional neglect really is. She says that it is often hard to understand because it’s about what DIDN’T happen in childhood, and even though it can be subtle and invisible, childhood emotional neglect has a devastating impact on many individuals.

If you love this episode, you can also listen to Dr Jonice Webb’s follow up interview: 62: After Childhood Emotional Neglect: Healing Your Relationships with Your Partner, Children, & Parents

Two: Podcast 21: Healing the Mother Wound with Bethany Webster

Bethany Webster is a writer, transformational coach, international speaker and a midwife of the heart. Her work is focused on helping women heal the “mother wound” so that they can step into their full feminine power and potential.

Webster writes,

“Difficulty and challenges between mothers and daughters are rampant and widespread but not openly spoken about. The taboo about speaking about the pain of the mother wound is what keeps it in place and keeps it hidden in shadow, festering and out of view…. The mother wound is the pain of being a woman passed down through generations of women in patriarchal cultures. And it includes the dysfunctional coping mechanisms that are used to process that pain.”

The mother wound can manifest in conditions such as addiction, depression and eating disorders such as binge eating, bulimia and chronic dieting/restricting.

In this podcast, Bethany Webster discusses how the mother wound affects all aspects of a woman’s life, the devaluation of the feminine, why this isn’t simply bringing up the past and the mother wound as a tool of empowerment.

Three: Podcast 63: Gifts & Challenges of the Highly Sensitive Person with Julie Bjelland, LMFT  

Women suffering with food, weight and body image concerns are more often than not, highly sensitive people (HSPs).

Author of Brain Training for the Highly Sensitive Person: Techniques to Reduce Anxiety and Overwhelming Emotions, Julie Bjelland, has a passion for, and expertise in neuroscience and determining how to successfully train the brain so people can live their best lives.

Julie discusses in this episode the definition of high sensitivity, the correlation with health issues, self-care and other techniques to manage high sensitivity.

If you love this episode and want to learn more about HSPs, check out episode 53: Beyond the Myths: Understanding the Highly Sensitive Person with April Snow

Four: Podcast 37: Women and Anger with Michelle Farris, LMFT

Many women who binge or emotionally eat squash their anger down with food. They haven’t learnt how to be with their rich emotional life. It often feels safer to eat down the anger (and the pain and sadness underlying the anger) than to express it in an assertive and healthy way.

Michelle Farris, LMFT. Michelle is a licensed marriage and family therapist. She teaches others how to be more authentic in relationships by healing their anger and codependency.

In this episode, Michelle discusses how codependency is related to anger, how anger can misrepresent women, people-pleasing and anger, how we can reconnect with our anger in a healthy way and learning how to say no!

If you identified with the topics in this episode, you might also enjoy episode number 22: Overcoming People Pleasing with Sharon Martin, LCSW

Five: Podcast 59: Cracking the Hunger Code Through Storytelling and Metaphor

Anita Johnston, Ph.D. is the author of Eating in the Light of the Moon: How Women Can Transform Their Relationships with Food Through Myth, Metaphor, and Storytelling  and the co-creator of the Light of the Moon Cafe, an online e-course and support circle.

In this episode Anita discusses, fitting in versus. belonging, the significance of the feminine in understanding disordered eating, what the food choices/qualities in disordered eating can reveal and how to redefine our relationship with food.

Six: Podcast 09: Disordered Eating: A Search for Wholeness with Jodie Gale


In, It’s not about the food’, Normandi & Roark write,

‘At the heart of every eating disorder, whether it is compulsive eating, bulimia or anorexia, there is a cry from the deepest part of our souls that must be heard. It is a cry to awaken, to embrace our whole selves… It is a cry to deepen our understanding of who we really are. It is a longing to know ourselves in mind, body and spirit’.

The above spiritual context is often neglected within eating disorder and other food, weight and body image recovery treatments. In this podcast, I address the underlying spiritual context and how recovery is an unfolding journey of the authentic self/soul. I also share about my personal recovery from bulimia (20 years this year!), how we must work with the parts and the whole and most importantly – how we are whole, not broken, even though we often feel this way!

About Jodieas-seen-in-december-16-pink

Sydney Soul-Centred Psychotherapist + Eating Psychology Specialist, Jodie Gale, is a leading specialist in women’s emotional, psychological and spiritual health and well-being. Over the last 20 years, Jodie has helped 100s of women to transform their lives. She has a private supervision, counselling, life-coaching and psychotherapy practice in Manly, Allambie Heights and Frenchs Forest on the Northern Beaches of Sydney. Jodie is passionate about putting the soul back into therapy!

Image Credit: National Psychotherapy Day

Moments of Meaning for National Psychotherapy Day

September 25 (in the US) is National Psychotherapy Day.

Moments of Meaning is a moving series of talks about what it is really like to be in therapy.

Check out these wonderful counsellors and psychotherapists sharing their own moments of meaning, as clients and as therapists.

This talk particularly spoke to me – Can Therapists Really Love Their Clients? by Stephanie Law, Psy.D.

For me personally – the unconditional love I felt from my psychotherapist helped me recover from addiction and bulimia nervosa.

Now as a counsellor and psychotherapist – the answer to ‘can therapists really love their clients?’ It’s a big YES from me.

If you are thinking about going to therapy – this might freak you out a bit! I’m not talking about romantic love. In A Psychotherapy of Love, Psychosynthesis practitioners Firman & Gila describe it as,

“…it is a love that facilitates the innate drive of synthesis, wholeness, and actualization.; love that supports the human journey over the course of a lifetime, love that allows the human spirit to thrive. This is a type of love that can see and embrace the whole of who we are – in short, an empathic love.”

Did you miss the National Psychotherapy Day Instagram Photo-A-Day Challenge? Check it out and hit the #nationalpsychotherapyday tag to see all of the photos from therapists around the globe.

About Jodieas-seen-in-december-16-pink

Sydney Soul-Centred Psychotherapist + Eating Psychology Specialist, Jodie Gale, is a leading specialist in women’s emotional, psychological and spiritual health and well-being. Over the last 20 years, Jodie has helped 100s of women to transform their lives. She has a private supervision, counselling, life-coaching and psychotherapy practice in Manly, Allambie Heights and Frenchs Forest on the Northern Beaches of Sydney. Jodie is passionate about putting the soul back into therapy!

Media contributions

Australia Counselling Best Mental Health Blogger

Let your light shine and live the life you have always dreamed of! Contact me now to book your first appointment.