ACIM Supplemental Reading for November 24
PSYCHOTHERAPY, PURPOSE, PROCESS AND PRACTICE
Psychotherapy is the only form of therapy there is. Since only the mind can be sick, only the mind can be healed. Only the mind is in need of healing. This does not appear to be the case, for the manifestations of this world seem real indeed. Psychotherapy is necessary so that an individual can begin to question their reality. Sometimes he is able to start to open his mind without formal help, but even then it is always some change in his perception of interpersonal relationships that enables him to do so. Sometimes he needs a more structured, extended relationship with an “official” therapist. Either way, the task is the same; the patient must be helped to change his mind about the “reality” of illusions.
THE PURPOSE OF PSYCHOTHERAPY
Very simply, the purpose of psychotherapy is to remove the blocks to truth. Its aim is to aid the patient in abandoning his fixed delusional system, and to begin to reconsider the spurious cause and effect relationships on which it rests. No one in this world escapes fear, but everyone can reconsider its causes and learn to evaluate them correctly. God has given everyone a Teacher Whose wisdom and help far exceed whatever contributions an earthly therapist can provide. Yet there are times and situations in which an earthly patient-therapist relationship becomes the means through which He offers His greater gifts to both.
What better purpose could any relationship have than to invite the Holy Spirit to enter into it and give it His Own great gift of rejoicing? What higher goal could there be for anyone than to learn to call upon God and hear His Answer? And what more transcendent aim can there be than to recall the way, the truth and the life, and to remember God? To help in this is the proper purpose of psychotherapy. Could anything be holier? For psychotherapy, correctly understood, teaches forgiveness and helps the patient to recognize and accept it. And in his healing is the therapist forgiven with him.
Everyone who needs help, regardless of the form of his distress, is attacking himself, and his peace of mind is suffering in consequence. These tendencies are often described as “self-destructive,” and the patient often regards them in that way himself. What he does not realize and needs to learn is that this “self,” which can attack and be attacked as well, is a concept he made up. Further, he cherishes it, defends it, and is sometimes even willing to “sacrifice” his “life” on its behalf. For he regards it as himself. This self he sees as being acted on, reacting to external forces as they demand, and helpless midst the power of the world.
Psychotherapy, then, must restore to his awareness the ability to make his own decisions. He must become willing to reverse his thinking, and to understand that what he thought projected its effects on him were made by his projections on the world. The world he sees does therefore not exist. Until this is at least in part accepted, the patient cannot see himself as really capable of making decisions. And he will fight against his freedom because he thinks that it is slavery.
The patient need not think of truth as God in order to make progress in salvation. But he must begin to separate truth from illusion, recognizing that they are not the same, and becoming increasingly willing to see illusions as false and to accept the truth as true. His Teacher will take him on from there, as far as he is ready to go. Psychotherapy can only save him time. The Holy Spirit uses time as He thinks best, and He is never wrong. Psychotherapy under His direction is one of the means He uses to save time, and to prepare additional teachers for His work. There is no end to the help that He begins and He directs. By whatever routes He chooses, all psychotherapy leads to God in the end. But that is up to Him. We are all His psychotherapists, for He would have us all be healed in Him.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for November 24
I gladly make the “sacrifice” of fear.
Here is the only “sacrifice” You ask of Your beloved Son; You ask him to give up all suffering, all sense of loss and sadness, all anxiety and doubt, and freely let Your Love come streaming in to his awareness, healing him of pain, and giving him Your Own eternal joy. Such is the “sacrifice” You ask of me, and one I gladly make; the only “cost” of restoration of Your memory to me, for the salvation of the world.
And as we pay the debt we owe to truth,–a debt that merely is the letting go of self-deceptions and of images we worshipped falsely–truth returns to us in wholeness and in joy. We are deceived no longer. Love has now returned to our awareness. And we are at peace again, for fear has gone and only love remains.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #310: I have been a student of A Course in Miracles for over 10 years, and I recently entered a Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology. One of the difficulties I have is that I am learning psychological material that is often at odds with the Course. On an intellectual level, I understand and can accept the distinctions. However sometimes I can’t, and this causes me some frustration. I worry about how to help another, although I also recognize where the answer lies — to turn and trust in the Holy Spirit. I even understand that much of what I am learning can be helpful if placed under the direction of the Holy Spirit — the problem is that I often forget. I guess my question is: if I’m inclined toward a particular psychological orientation and practice, say psychoanalysis or narrative therapy, is it okay to follow my interest, but with the Holy Spirit as guide?
A: It is never the form but only the content that can ever conflict with the Course. In other words, it is the purpose for which you use the particular psychological orientation and practice that determines whether or not it will be at odds with the Course, and not its particular theoretical model of mental illness and health, with its specific applications. Use it for ego purposes, and you will judge and attack the differences it helps you identify between yourself and your clients. Use it for the Holy Spirit’s purpose and you will see it as a means for uncovering the ego’s patterns and plots and schemes and connivings, both in your client and in yourself, so that they can be released to the healing light of forgiveness.
So study whatever therapeutic model appeals to you and become as good at its practice as you possibly can. For training in the symbols of the world enables you to accept a teaching role in the plan for the healing of the Son’s mind (W.pI.184.9:1,2). Just never forget that the only true healing comes from the one Therapist Who knows no healing is necessary. Your role is to become an instrument for that healing by first allowing your own guilt and attack thoughts to be healed. When your own blocks have been removed, the healing love can then simply flow through you (T.9.V.7,8).
Q #311: It is obvious that Helen and Bill had specific, individual purposes in bringing A Course in Miracles to the world, besides the purpose we all share, which is to forgive and to wake up to knowing ourselves as the one Son of God. I can presume, as the Course says, that we all have an individual part to play in God’s plan for salvation; but does that also mean a part in the world?
A: Since the Courses teaches that the world is an illusion, made by the mind of the separated Son as an attack on God (W.pI.155.2:1, W.pII.3.2:1), it follows that it would not tell us that God’s plan for salvation means we have a specific role to play in the world as individuals. It is important to remember that the Course is addressing the mind; specifically, the decision making part of the mind, because nothing exists outside of it: “Mind reaches to itself. It is not made up of different parts, which reach each other. It does not go out. Within itself it has no limits, and there is nothing outside it. It encompasses everything. It encompasses you entirely; you within it and it within you. There is nothing else, anywhere or ever” (T.18.VI.8:5,6,7,8,9,10,11). Every reference to our role or function in the world, therefore, must be interpreted with these metaphysical principles in mind. There is only one role assigned to us by God: to be His innocent Son. The Holy Spirit’s function is healing the mind of the thought of separation, and our only function is accepting this healing through forgiveness. Many passages in the Course seem to imply that each individual has a specific and unique role from God: “To each He (the Holy Spirit) gives a special function in salvation he alone can fill; a part for only him” (T.25.VI.4:2), (See also:T.25.VI.7). However, this “part” is to accept the Atonement for himself. It is “special,” in other words “specific,” because we have chosen to identify with our individual bodies in the illusion, and have assigned different roles to ourselves, and to every body. Although these specifics (being a son, daughter, parent, teacher, nurse, CEO) are irrelevant to the outcome, they are important because they make up the classroom the Holy Spirit uses to teach us the truth about ourselves. Each part of the Sonship, therefore, has to play his part by accepting the Atonement “as an individual” in his specific classroom and, as you mention, by ultimately accepting his only role and identity as God’s Son.