Training – When Religion Gets Sick: A Guide for Therapists

Here’s the info for an upcoming workshop I’ll be presenting. (Please see the end of this post for a 1 hour, abbreviated version I’ll be offering for NAMI on September 17.)

When Religion Gets Sick: A Guide for Therapists

3 CEUs

  • Date: Tuesday, September 30, 6:00 – 9:00 p.m. (soft drinks provided – participants are welcome to bring their dinner)
  • Location: National Lloyds Building (corner of 9th and Austin), 4th floor
  • 3 CEUs
  • Sponsored by The Waco Partnership for Psychological and Spiritual Care
  • Facilitator: Wes Eades, PhD
  • Cost: $35, which includes a copy of Wes’s book Whirlwind: Journey’s with Job through Grief, Anxiety and Pain.
  • To register and pay via PayPal, please click: PayPal button

Dr. Wes Eades has spent all of his career as a psychotherapist with a focused interest in the role of religion and spirituality in mental health. He has been particularly drawn to the destructive role religion can sometimes play in the suffering of persons.

Wes, and his friend, Dr. Milton Horne, have recently published Whirlwind: Journeys with Job through Grief, Anxiety, and Pain. Milton began his study of Job many years ago with his doctoral dissertation at Oxford, and has continued to wrestle with this enigmatic, and often confusing, story throughout his career as a professor of religion.

In Whirlwind Wes and Milt bring together a scholarly treatment of Job with the practice of psychotherapy to illustrate how religious beliefs can confound and compound suffering. Our central premise:

“We hold the assumption that real spiritual transformation occurs when people move from expecting God to take care of them, to realizing that peace is possible regardless of circumstances. Our observation is that people often use religion to try to control the uncontrollable, which, in turn, magnifies suffering.” ( from page ix of Whirlwind)

In this seminar Wes will discuss how this central premise plays out in his work with clients. Vignettes from Whirlwind will be used to foster discussion on the many ways that religious ideas can create fog in therapy, and to consider therapeutic approaches to working with the faith and spirituality of clients.

To register and pay via PayPal, please click: PayPal button

9-17-14 Lunch & Learn

I’ve also been invited by NAMI to provide a 1 hour “Lunch & Learn” on this topic on September 17 from 12:00 to 1:00. This presentation will be at the Cenikor office at 3015 Herring. The cost is $10 for 1 CEU plus $5 if you want lunch. The money goes to support the work of NAMI.

Pre-registration for Lunch and Learn is at this link

A shift in our mission

WPPSC was first formed in order to promote conversation on the role of spirituality in mental health, and to subsidize the cost of counseling for persons who could not afford it. The board’s original intention was keep things simple by not actually hiring clinicians to work for WPPSC. However, as we’ve become increasingly aware of the limited options in Waco for counseling and social work internships, the board has shifted this policy. Interns in the area of social work are required to work for an organization, as opposed to within a private practice. In January of 2013 the board approved my recommendation that WPPSC be allowed to hire interns to provide services which meet our mission, provided they have proper supervisory relationships related to their fields.

Although this adds a bit of complication to WPPSC’s bookkeeping, we have our own CPA board member, Lisa Hull, who has already provided guidelines for this shift, and has agreed to oversee the implementation.

The board and I are very confident that WPPSC is going to be extending it’s work significantly thanks to this shift in policy.

We remain grateful to all of you who have been supporting this work since it’s inception.


A Day of Training in Dialectical Behavioral Therapy – August 3

The Waco Partnership for Psychological and Spiritual Care and Hope for BPD are pleased to bring Dr. Shari Manning to Waco for a day of training in Dialectical Behavioral Therapy on August 3, 2012.

Dr. Manning will also be available for informal conversation and book signing on Thursday evening, August 2.  The general public is invited, and there will no charge for this evening event.

Dr Manning has worked closely with Dr. Marsha Linehan, the founder of DBT, and has written extensively on the treatment of Borderline Personality Disorder and related psychological challenges.  She provides training, supervision, and consultation world-wide, and it will be an honor to have her in Central Texas.

The details of this workshop, along with the registration link, can be found HERE.  Registration will be limited, and discounts are available for early registration.

Spring Conference: Borderline Personality Disorder

Holistic Treatment of Borderline Personality Disorder:

An Exploration of the Latest Psychological, Spiritual,
Family, and Medical Considerations

Friday, March 9, 2011

Hillcrest Hospital Auditorium

Register by Clicking Here


With a lifetime prevalence rate of almost 6%, Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is an important public health issue that impacts countless lives throughout Texas. This one-day conference will provide an overview of current research about BPD as well as supporting evidence-based treatments for this severe mental illness.

We are honored to have Karyn Hall, PhD join us as our keynote speaker. Dr. Hall is the director of the Dialectical Behavior Therapy Center in Houston, Texas, and is an adviser, consultant, and trainer with Treatment Implementation Collaborative, LLC. Trained as a child psychologist, she specializes in the prevention and treatment of emotional disorders.

She is also the co-author of The Power of Validation: Arming Your Child Against Bullying, Peer Pressure, Addiction, Self-Harm, and Out-of-Control Emotions (New Harbinger, 2011).

The conference is open to mental health professionals, individuals diagnosed with BPD, their families, clergy, and students.

Licensed mental health professionals will may apply to receive 7 continuing education credit hours.


Mental Health Professionals: $99
($79 early registration until February 1)
Includes 7 CEUs

Individuals diagnosed with BPD, family members, students, and clergy. $59
($39 early registration until February 1)

Register by Clicking Here


7:15-7:50 am       Registration

8:00-9:00 am       Session 1
Let’s Talk about Elephants: The Power of Validation for the Individual with BPD. Karyn Hall, PhD

9:00-10:00 am        Session 2
Helping Patients Explore Spiritual Meaning in the Midst of Emptiness. Wes Eades, PhD

10:00-10:15 am        Break

10:15-11:15 am        Session 3
Family Education Benefits Everyone: A Parent’s Journey. Carl Dunn

11:15-12:15 pm        Session 4
What You Need to Know about Dialectical Behavior Therapy. Alina Gorgorian, PhD

12:15-1:30 pm        Lunch (provided)

1:30-2:30 pm        Session 5
My BPD Recovery Path: Healing With Heart. Teresa DiGregorio

2:30-3:30 pm        Session 6
Providing Important Information: Psychoeducation for BPD and Self-Injury. Kathleen Geiger, LPC

3:30-3:45 pm        Break

3:45-4:30 pm        Panel Discussion

4:30 pm        Evaluations

The conference fee includes morning coffee, lunch, and educational materials.

Register by Clicking Here


Waco Partnership for Psychological and Spiritual Care
Hillcrest Baptist Medical Center Department of Pastoral Care
Hope for BPD
Clearview Women’s Center

Power of Now – Summary of Chapter 10

This entry marks the end of our study of Ekhart Tolle’s The Power of Now.  He returns to the central them of surrender…

Chapter 10 – The Meaning of Surrender

  • Acceptance of the Now
    • Surrender is the simple but profound wisdom of yielding to rather than opposing the flow of life.”
    • Surrender is not the same thing as resignation.  One can surrender to the reality of a situation and still take steps to create a different path.
    • If you find your life situation unsatisfactory or even intolerable, it is only by surrendering first that you can break the unconscious resistance pattern that perpetuates that situation.”
    • Tolle uses the term surrendered action” to describe the process of letting go of judgement while seeking change.
    • The concept of “motivation” is very important in psychology.  Tolle challenges the assumption that acceptance will lead to a lack of motivation.  He observes that we can experience a more effective motivation when we surrender (wme: This is what I would call the difference between motivation via anxiety and motivation via vision).
  • From Mind Energy to Spiritual Energy
    • Letting go of resistance begins with acknowledging the resistance.
    • Be present to resistance as it arises, and notice how Mind seeks to label and judge it.
    • As we acknowledge resistance we become freer to choose our actions rather being reactive.
    • Resistance is weakness and fear masquerading as strength. What the ego sees as weakness is your Being in its purity, innocence, and power. What it sees as strength is weakness.”  ( 1 Corinthians 1:27  But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.)
  • Surrender in Personal Relationships
    • It is true that only an unconscious person will try to use or manipulate others, but it is equally true that only an unconscious person can be used and manipulated. If you resist or fight unconscious behavior in others, you become unconscious yourself. But surrender doesn’t mean that you allow yourself to be used by unconscious people. Not at all. It is perfectly possible to say “no” firmly and clearly to a person or to walk away from a situation and be in a state of complete inner nonresistance at the same time.
    • Surrender facilitates meaningful action.  There are times when action is helpful, even called for.  However, when we are acting from a place of surrender, we are not judging or fighting, we are simply acting in response to our values.
    • The ego believes that in your resistance lies your strength, whereas in truth resistance cuts you off from Being, the only place of true power. Resistance is weakness and fear masquerading as strength. What the ego sees as weakness is your Being in its purity, innocence, and power.
  • Transforming Illness into Enlightenment
    • Illness is an unavoidable aspect of life.  It gains power over us to the degree that we allow it to define us in terms of past and future.
    • When we surrender to illness as a part of our reality in the Now, illness can become a part of our enlightenment.
    • Illness is not the problem. You are the problem—as long as the egoic mind is in control. When you are ill or disabled, do not feel that you have failed in some way, do not feel guilty. Do not blame life for treating you unfairly, but do not blame yourself either. All that is resistance. If you have a major illness, use it for enlightenment. Anything “bad” that happens in your life—use it for enlightenment. Withdraw time from the illness. Do not give it any past or future. Let it force you into intense present-moment awareness—and see what happens.
  • When Disaster Strikes
    • For a majority of people, some sort of disaster, or “limit-situation,” is required to break through the hard shell of the ego. (wme: Two paths toward transformation – suffering and intention.)
    • When disaster strikes, the path towards peace requires surrender.
  • Transforming Suffering into Peace
    • The practice of surrender begins with mindful surrender to each moment – saying “yes” to both what is and what isn’t.
    • If we miss that moment of surrender, then we generate suffering through resistance.  This becomes the second opportunity.  We can choose to be present to the suffering without resistance or judgement.
    • Forget about surrender for a moment. When your pain is deep, all talk of surrender will probably seem futile and meaningless anyway. When your pain is deep, you will likely have a strong urge to escape from it rather than surrender to it. You don’t want to feel what you feel. What could be more normal? But there is no escape, no way out. There are many pseudo escapes—work, drink, drugs, anger, projection, suppression, and so on—but they don’t free you from the pain.
    • When there is no way out, there is still always a way through. So don’t turn away from the pain. Face it. Feel it fully. Feel it—don’t think about it! Express it if necessary, but don’t create a script in your mind around it. Give all your attention to the feeling, not to the person, event, or situation that seems to have caused it. Don’t let the mind use the pain to create a victim identity for yourself out of it. Feeling sorry for yourself and telling others your story will keep you stuck in suffering. Since it is impossible to get away from the feeling, the only possibility of change is to move into it; otherwise, nothing will shift.
    • At this point, surrender is happening.
  • The Way of the Cross
    • Tolle asserts that the common understanding of the Way of Cross is misguided.  He says that it is not the suffering that is redemptive, but that suffering creates the opportunity for surrender.
    • The way of the cross is a complete reversal. It means that the worst thing in your life, your cross, turns into the best thing that ever happened to you, by forcing you into surrender, into “death,” forcing you to become as nothing, to become as God—because God, too, is no-thing.
    • At this time, as far as the unconscious majority of humans is concerned, the way of the cross is still the only way. They will only awaken through further suffering, and enlightenment as a collective phenomenon will be predictably preceded by vast upheavals.
  • The Power to Choose
    • Tolle notes that we commonly misuse the word “choose,” as in someone chooses a dysfunctional relational.  He insists that choice requires consciousness, and that our impulse towards suffering is due to a lack of consciousness… to an identification with mind.
    • Choice begins the moment you disidentify from the mind and its conditioned patterns, the moment you become present. Until you reach that point, you are unconscious, spiritually speaking. This means that you are compelled to think, feel, and act in certain ways according to the conditioning of your mind. That is why Jesus said: “Forgive them, for they know not what they do.
    • Nobody chooses dysfunction, conflict, pain. Nobody chooses insanity. They happen because there is not enough presence in you to dissolve the past, not enough light to dispel the darkness. You are not fully here. You have not quite woken up yet. In the meantime, the conditioned mind is running your life.
    • Tolle closes this book with the following exchange with the interviewer:
      • When you surrender to what is and so become fully present, the past ceases to have any power. You do not need it anymore. Presence is the key. The Now is the key.
      • How will I know when I have surrendered?
      • When you no longer need to ask the question.

Power of Now – Summary of Chapter 9

A consistent theme in all great spiritual traditions is the struggle the human has brain with accepting that there might be something better than happiness….

Chapter 9 – Beyond Happiness and Unhappiness there is Peace

  • The Higher Good Beyond Good and Bad
    • Accepting things as they are is a first step in experiencing peace.
    • Move beyond the dualism of good and bad, and assume that every circumstance, even the painful ones, can move us toward peace.
    • It seems that most people need to experience a great deal of suffering before they will relinquish resistance and accept—before they will forgive. As soon as they do, one of the greatest miracles happens: the awakening of Being-consciousness through what appears as evil, the transmutation of suffering into inner peace.
  • The End of Your Life Drama
    • Most “bad” things in life are created by the ego’s need for control.
    • We can create drama when we battle with other egos, and we can create drama on our own, battling with our own ego.
    • When you live in complete acceptance of what is, that is the end of all drama in your life. Nobody can even have an argument with you, no matter how hard he or she tries.
    • WME – For the conscious person, competing points of view are simply information.
    • Most people are in love with their particular life drama. Their story is their identity. The ego runs their life. They have their whole sense of self invested in it. Even their—usually unsuccessful—search for an answer, a solution, or for healing becomes part of it. What they fear and resist most is the end of their drama. As long as they are their mind, what they fear and resist most is their own awakening. When you live in complete acceptance of what is, that is the end of all drama in your life. Nobody can even have an argument with you, no matter how hard he or she tries. You cannot have an argument with a fully conscious person. An argument implies identification with your mind and a mental position, as well as resistance and reaction to the other person’s position. The result is that the polar opposites become mutually energized. These are the mechanics of unconsciousness. You can still make your point clearly and firmly, but there will be no reactive force behind it, no defense or attack. So it won’t turn into drama. When you are fully conscious, you cease to be in conflict. “No one who is at one with himself can even conceive of conflict,” states A Course in Miracles. This refers not only to conflict with other people but more fundamentally to conflict within you, which ceases when there is no longer any clash between the demands and expectations of your mind and what is.
  • Impermanence and the Cycle of Life
    • Although physical pain can be a reality, all suffering is created by the ego’s resistance to accepting things as they are.
    • There are cycles of up and down in all of life.  It is the ego that defines such things as good and bad.
    • The down cycle is absolutely essential for spiritual realization. You must have failed deeply on some level or experienced some deep loss or pain to be drawn to the spiritual dimension. Or perhaps your very success became empty and meaningless and so turned out to be failure. Failure lies concealed in every success, and success in every failure. In this world, which is to say on the level of form, everybody “fails” sooner or later, of course, and every achievement eventually comes to naught. All forms are impermanent.
    • All the great spiritual traditions speak to the importance of not becoming attached to the cycles of life, and of defining the goodness or badness of life in terms of these cycles.
    • When we begin to move with the cycles of life, we find an “ease” to life.
    • The happiness that is derived from some secondary source is never very deep. It is only a pale reflection of the joy of Being, the vibrant peace that you find within as you enter the state of nonresistance. Being takes you beyond the polar opposites of the mind and frees you from dependency on form. Even if everything were to collapse and crumble all around you, you would still feel a deep inner core of peace. You may not be happy, but you will be at peace.
  • Using and Relinquishing Negativity
    • The ego uses negativity to try and manipulate reality.
    • Tolle says that humans are the only life form on earth that knows negativity, and we use it to pollute our environment.
    • When we sense negativity arising, we can choose to be present and “wake up,” and let go of the mind games.
    • Tolle encourages us to be mindful of the little irritations that crop up in life.  He notes that when we examine these irritations we will discover they are manufactured by the mind, and serve no useful purpose (I would say that some if not many irritations are indeed useful.  They might point to important information about something that needs tending.  For instance, that irritating sound I hear when I drive my car might be signaling a problem with the car that can be repaired.)
    • When you begin to accept what is, then every moment becomes the best possible moment.
  • The Nature of Compassion
    • Some believe that detachment can lead to disconnection from others.  Tolle insists that the opposite is true.  When we are free of expectations, then we become free to move towards others with genuine compassion.
    • True compassion goes beyond empathy or sympathy. It does not happen until sadness merges with joy, the joy of Being beyond form, the joy of eternal life.
  • Toward a Different Order of Reality
    • This is a difficult section to summarize.  Tolle acknowledges that there is deep suffering in the world.  For example, there are large numbers of people who are starving.  He recognizes that it is valuable to address these practical issues, but insists that we will never make headway unless we recognize that the core issue is the general state of unconsciousness  He refers to several spiritual teachers who refer to the salvation of reality as some form of universal consciousness.

Power of Now – Summary of Chapter 8

Chapter 8 – Enlightened Relationships

A great deal of the suffering we inflict upon ourselves involves relationships.  Our culture constantly bombards us with the message that we are entitled to great relationships (especially romantic ones), and that we can never be happy without them.  It’s no surprise, then, that Tolle pushes us to consider how we allow relationships to pull us away from Now, and toward ruminating over the past and the future.

  • Enter the Now from Wherever You Are
    • People think of relationships as one of those future experiences that will “save” them – especially romantic relationships.
    • “True salvation” is a state of freedom from a sense of insufficiency and fear.  Tolle reminds us that there is nothing we can achieve or experience that will get us closer to this freedom than we already are.
  • Love/Hate Relationships
    • “Unless and until you access the consciousness frequency of presence, all relationships, and particularly intimate relationships, are deeply flawed and ultimately dysfunctional.”
    • Tolle observes that the mind creates a love/hate cycle with all relationships.  This cycle creates a sense of drama, and aliveness, that can become addictive (wme: We come to despise those whom we’ve assumed would heal us.).
    • Tolle asserts that this cycle has nothing to do with “True Love,” which arises from beyond the mind.
    • Romantic love is actually much more like addiction. (Rohr: Addiction is misplaced spiritual energy.)
  • Addiction and the Search for Wholeness
    • “The reason why the romantic love relationship is such an intense and universally sought-after experience is that it seems to offer liberation from a deep-seated state of fear, need, lack, and incompleteness that is part of the human condition in its unredeemed and unenlightened state.”
    • Tolle expresses a perspective in sync with marriage therapists: We are drawn to a person based on our wounds, and are ultimately disillusioned by the other’s failure to heal those wounds.
    • “Every addiction arises from an unconscious refusal to face and move through your own pain. Every addiction starts with pain and ends with pain. Whatever the substance you are addicted to—alcohol, food, legal or illegal drugs, or a person—you are using something or somebody to cover up your pain. That is why, after the initial euphoria has passed, there is so much unhappiness, so much pain in intimate relationships. They do not cause pain and unhappiness. They bring out the pain and unhappiness that is already in you. Every addiction does that. Every addiction reaches a point where it does not work for you anymore, and then you feel the pain more intensely than ever.”
    • One of the more sinister lies the Mind can accept is that our spiritual path depends on another person.
    • However, there can be great power in a couple agreeing that the relationship will be a part of their spiritual practice.
  • From Addictive to Enlightened Relationships
    • Relationships activate the pain-body when we are disillusioned.
    • To “heal” we must dis-identify with Mind and connect with Now.
  • Relationships as Spiritual Practice
    • “If you stop investing it with “selfness,” the mind loses its compulsive quality, which basically is the compulsion to judge, and so to resist what is, which creates conflict, drama, and new pain. In fact, the moment that judgment stops through acceptance of what is, you are free of the mind. You have made room for love, for joy, for peace. First you stop judging yourself; then you stop judging your partner. The greatest catalyst for change in a relationship is complete acceptance of your partner as he or she is, without needing to judge or change them in any way.”
    • “If your partner is still identified with the mind and the pain-body while you are already free, this will represent a major challenge—not to you but to your partner. It is not easy to live with an enlightened person, or rather it is so easy that the ego finds it extremely threatening. Remember that the ego needs problems, conflict, and “enemies” to strengthen the sense of separateness on which its identity depends. The unenlightened partner’s mind will be deeply frustrated because its fixed positions are not resisted, which means they will become shaky and weak, and there is even the “danger” that they may collapse altogether, resulting in loss of self. The pain-body is demanding feedback and not getting it. The need for argument, drama, and conflict is not being met. But beware: Some people who are unresponsive, withdrawn, insensitive, or cut off from their feelings may think and try to convince others that they are enlightened, or at least that there is “nothing wrong” with them and everything wrong with their partner. Men tend to do that more than women.”
  • Why Women are Closer to Enlightenment
    • Tolle echos Rohr’s contention that women are naturally closer to enlightenment than men because they naturally live closer to their bodies.
    • “As a general rule, the major obstacle for men tends to be the thinking mind, and the major obstacle for women the pain-body, although in certain individual cases the opposite may be true, and in others the two factors may be equal.”
  • Dissolving the Collective Female Pain-Body
    • Tolle asserts that the female pain-body has a collective element due to the subjugation of women across time.  This is another element of human history that Rohr insists place women further down the spiritual path than men.
    • Tolle invites women to consider the degree to which they have identified with their pain-body.  He says that the degree to which she is identified will reflect the degree to which she resists letting go of the pain.
    • “So do not use the pain-body to give you an identity. Use it for enlightenment instead. Transmute it into consciousness. One of the best times for this is during menses.” (Have you read The Red Tent ?)
  • Give Up the Relationship with Yourself
    • Being does not contain the elements of male and female.  Therefore, when we are able to connect with Being in the Now, we develop the capacity to rise above the need for the opposite sex to fulfill us.  Being contains all we need.
    • “If you cannot be at ease with yourself when you are alone, you will seek a relationship to cover up your unease. You can be sure that the unease will then reappear in some other form within the relationship, and you will probably hold your partner responsible for it.”