This is one of the questions I find myself answering frequently!  In this piece I will explain the difference, and next time anyone asks I will simply send them the link and save myself the explanation!

The absolute core difference is this: a shamanic practitioner “hollows out” (meaning that they push their ego and everyday self aside) to become a conduct for Spirit, allowing luminous evolved beings to work through them. Because this means the intervention comes from Divine Beings, not infrequently miracles occur in this work. (I think we have all heard about miracle healings and I have seen more than my fair share of them in my own practice over the years).

A psychotherapist however is trained to use themselves as the “container”. Psychotherapists work from their own insights, experiences, training and life experiences to become a container that holds difficult material until the client is ready to take it back or resolve it. Their suggestions and interventions will come from their own “waking mind” though some (depending on personality and where their training is on the ‘spiritual spectrum’) will bring great intuition to their job. (There are many different schools of thought in both psychology and psychotherapy).

A psychotherapist will work through a process of (what is called) transference and counter transference. In simple language this means: the feelings a client projects onto them (so these forces come into play in the therapeutic situation and then become visible) and the feelings the client provokes in the therapist (a whole range of material: triggers, emotions, responses, “reminding you of someone” etc.). All that material is then worked with. Psychotherapy aims to bring freedom from past conditioning and a greater piece of mind, more choice in how we operate.

So what are my hesitations about psychotherapy? Over the past two decades (since I trained as an art therapist) I have arrived at the following observations:

In the therapeutic relationship the therapist does the “holding” before gently reflecting back or rephrasing material for a client. This means the interaction occurs on a human level (unless the therapist is trained in a more spiritual/transcendental discipline – and many are not). I now realise that for healing  to occur, the Divine needs to come into the room. Highly evolved luminous beings with the “higher perspective”, who can see to the very heart of the matter, need to be invited into the sacred space where healing occurs. The Temples of Light, we create, where (soul) fragmentation does not exist – only Divine Love and Divine Light , are not being created by the average psycho therapist (so progress is slow and very costly).

Another assumption is that talking about something automatically leads to understanding something and therefore being able to change or resolve long-standing patterns of behaviour. I don’t find this to be true. I see many people who have done years of psychotherapy and who say that more shifts in 2 hours with me than in 2 years with a psychotherapist. That is because ultimately the work is not done by me – I only become a conduct for powers great than myself – for Spirit. In my experience healing happens “in the space beyond words”. People can analyse their childhood experiences and talk until the cows come home – this is not necessarily going to make them feel whole. (They may also need soul retrieval, the bringing back of lost soul parts),  extraction work , the pulling out of spiritual intrusions, or other spirit-led work to be ‘whole enough energetically speaking’ to heal).

A final issue I have with mainstream psychotherapy (and psychoanalysis) is that a long-term dependency is encouraged and expected between therapist and client. People commit to having sessions for years on end. People become emotionally dependent on their therapists.

So am I “against psychotherapy”?


Some people truly need this ‘package’ to work through life experiences in a safe container – but many other people simply need a spiritual crisis intervention that shifts energy and empowers them – so they themselves remain in change of their own healing process and own it completely. Shamanism honours their sovereignty as human beings with innate Divinity and an innate ability to heal and become whole.

People arrive for shamanic healing sessions with extremely different levels of spiritual awareness. Some clients I see admit that they don’t even know what a shamanic practitioner “is or does” (believe it or not!) They arrive for their session saying: “People told me you get results. I don’t care how you do it, just do whatever needs to be done!”

Under such circumstances having a shamanic healing can “open Pandora’s box”. Things that have long been unresolved or even ‘hidden from view’ (within the client, their family, or often both!) come out in the open and then there is the choice of either the shamanic practitioner doing a lot of follow up care (but most of them are not trained in counselling or psychotherapy) or referring the client on to a therapist who can provide safe space for further reflection and exploration.

This is a model I have now arrived at in my own practice. I see some clients a few times a year (like a “dentist”!) and in-between sessions they work extremely hard on their own – then return for further guidance and spirit input. Other people might need weekly sessions for a while – and then I refer them onto a psycho therapist with a spiritual approach, because though I do have psycho therapeutic training, my time is better spent doing “what I do best”, i.e. shamanic work.

Therefore my conclusion is that both professions provide a service in our community but that I wish more people were aware of the option of having shamanic healing – so they themselves can decide what they truly need on the level of soul and spirit.

Imelda Almqvist