Mental Health for Mages

by Mike Sententia on June 18, 2014

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We all need help sometimes. But finding a therapist can be hard when you practice magick. Will they dismiss your experiences? Lead you away from magick? Think you’re crazy?

We’re not the only community to have this problem. Homosexuality was a diagnosable mental illness until 1974. Kinky people today have difficulty finding therapists who won’t pathologize their sexuality. Friends have had bad experiences and stopped trusting therapists. Some of those friends have clinical depression, borderline personality disorder, and other serious problems, and went for years without help.

I’m seeing a therapist myself. Started when I left a deeply unhealthy relationship, so I wouldn’t over-burden the people around me. I kept going because it’s been helpful for my growth. I tell you this so you know I’m speaking from experience, and to help de-stigmatize therapy.

So, as a magick practitioner, how do you find a good therapist? I don’t have a solid answer here. But I do have a few thoughts.

(If anyone knows of mental health resources for mages, please share in the comments.)

Interviews

Good therapists will offer a free phone interview or first session. This is your time to see if they’re a match. I know it’s hard to talk about your magick, especially if that’s part of what’s causing you stress, but do not be shy. If you know you want a magick-friendly therapist, talk about magick. Remember, your therapist is a professional you hire. You get to ask questions and decide if you want to hire this one or find someone else.

Here are some questions you might want to try:

  • I practice alternative religions. Tell me what you know about shamanism / wicca. (These are the most mainstream forms of magick. Someone open to magick should know something about them, while they might not know about the Golden Dawn.)
  • If you were working with a patient who believed they were psychic, how would that factor into your diagnosis and treatment plan?
  • What is your opinion of patients who seek alternative therapy, such as Reiki or acupuncture, in addition to traditional western medicine?

The point is, don’t just ask, “Are you OK with magick?” Get a feel for how the person views the world, and how comfortable they are with these topics.

Present Magick Well

I used to be nervous when talking about magick, rush through it, confusing people. It came off poorly.

These days, when I first talk about magick, I don’t talk about magick. I talk about healing, and about exploring how energy affects cells. About how, if we could understand that and affect nerves more strongly and precisely, we might be able to help depression, epilepsy, paralysis, and a bunch of other serious problems. I’ve learned to talk about magick like a professional would talk about their research, and it dramatically changes the responses I get.

(I learned to do that by writing. You should start a blog, too.)

Before you tell your therapist, think about what you want to say. Practice, with a friend or on your own. Presentation matters.

Know Your Goals

Every week or so, I hear from readers with upsetting mystical experiences. They hear voices, see visions. They question their own sanity. And they’re terrified the therapist will think they’re crazy, too.

Your therapist’s job isn’t to tell you you’re crazy. It’s not to fix you. It’s to listen to your goals for personal growth and change, and help you achieve them. Unless you’re a danger to yourself or others, their job is to help you become who you want to be.

Is your goal to stop having visions? To continue having visions, but no longer be upset by them? To just figure out what’s going on? All of those are perfectly legitimate, and a good therapist will help you figure out what you want, then help you make that happen.

Fire Bad Therapists

What if your therapist won’t listen? You tell them your visions are inspiring, and they pathologize them. Or they insist that all healing is placebo, make you feel like you’re wasting your time studying magick. Or they otherwise try to make changes they want, instead of changes you want. What do you do?

Simple: Fire them. Your therapist works for you. If they aren’t helping, fire them.

Then, interview more therapists. Don’t let one bad experience with one bad therapist prevent you from getting the help you need.

Now, I live in San Francisco. If you live in a small town in a less open-minded part of the country, this might be harder. But many therapists offer phone sessions. If you don’t like the therapists in your town, hire one in San Francisco. Or Seattle. Or Portland. Or…

But please, get the help you need.

Got more ideas? Or an experience to share? Leave a comment.

If you liked this post, consider visiting my current blog at mikesententia.com.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Francesca Gentille June 19, 2014 at 10:08 PM

Great blog. So important to both get help and do so from someone who can be compassionate & non-judgmental.

There is a Pagan Counselors Group which I am on. THey are a great place to start OR any Pagan egroup. Magic is not necessarily Pagan but Pagan resources would often be good magick resources.

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