Expert Profile - Irene Siegel
Irene Siegel, Ph.D., LCSW
Doctorate in Transpersonal Psychotherapy; Masters in Social Work
Approved EMDR Consultant
Presenter at numerous EMDR International Association Conferences
Trained for years with healers of Incan descent and other indigenous cultures
Teaches Meditation Classes: Awakening Your Light Body; Sacred Medicine Wheel
Professional Trainings on EMDR, Mindfulness, and Spiritual Awakening
Author of The Sacred Path of the Therapist: Modern Healing, Ancient Wisdom, and Client Transformation published by W. W. Norton & Co.; peer reviewed articles in the Journal of Transpersonal Psychology and the Journal of EMDR Practice and Research
Podcast: Transpersonal Journey with Irene Siegel on Apple, Google, iHeart
Dr. Irene Siegel’s Bio:
Dr. Irene R. Siegel, Ph.D., LCSW is Director of Center Point Counseling in Huntington N.Y. where she conducts her integrative Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy practice and teaches meditation and healing. She received her doctorate in Transpersonal Psychology in 2011 from the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology (now Sofia University), and her masters in Social Work in 1977 from Columbia University.
Dr. Siegel studied the ancient healing arts of native indigenous cultures throughout North and South America, and teaches the integration of Western psychotherapy with ancient healing arts as depicted in her recently published book The Sacred Path of the Therapist: Modern Healing, Ancient Wisdom, and Client Transformation, and numerous journal articles.
As an Approved EMDR Consultant, teacher, and lecturer at numerous EMDR Conferences, she has broken through traditional barriers introducing the innovative concept of integrating mindful awareness and resonance into the EMDR protocol. Listen to her podcast: Transpersonal Journey with Irene Siegel on Apple, Google, and iHeart. See her website for more information at: www.DrIreneSiegel.com.
What life events or challenges that you’ve experienced (could be minor, could be major) – whether you’ve experienced them directly or via someone close to you, have had any type of impact on your desire to pursue a career in psychotherapy?
I make a joke of the fact that I was born meditating. As far back as I can remember I was focusing deep within, and journeying into what indigenous cultures would refer to as the non-ordinary reality. As a child, one could suppose that this was an overactive imagination as would be found in most children. However, the experience never stopped and only became more involved and entwined with the knowledge of ancient wisdom traditions. I imagined inner teachers whose wisdom and knowledge have been validated through reading books and working with teachers in my ordinary reality. In my late 20’s I needed a teacher in physical form and came upon Alberto Villoldo. I studied with him and his teachers of Incan descent, journeying periodically to the jungles and mountains of Peru and Bolivia over approximately a ten-year period of time. It was my first journey to Peru that helped me to realize that I have been engaged in the practices of these ancient spiritual traditions without knowing what it was. I just knew that as a child, teen, and then young adult, I felt very different from the norm in my culture. This led me to write my first book, Eyes of the Jaguar.
This entire spiritual journey led me to deeper self-exploration. It was early in my life that I questioned why this was happening to me and not those around me. Why was I different, and what makes me who I am? Psychology and spirituality were beginning to integrate long before I went for my undergraduate degree in psychology, and then for my masters degree in Social Work.
My journey had led me to study the meditation program Awakening Your Light Body, as created by Duane Packer and Sanaya Roman. I have been a teacher for the program for over 25 years. It was when I first took the EMDR training that I saw how that therapeutic process was fertile ground for the integration of a spiritual or transpersonal approach with my clients. Magic was happening in my office as clients reprocessed old trauma and initiated a spiritual awakening. It was then that I decided to get my doctorate in Transpersonal Psychology. I conducted a study on the subject and met others who could identify with and support my experiences and my work. This led to the publication of my book, The Sacred Path of the Therapist: Modern Healing, Ancient Wisdom, and Client Transformation.
Now I am teaching other therapists the art of integrating spirituality through mindfulness and resonance into the therapeutic process. This is my path, and this is my purpose. My life which started out for me as being a very different kind of child that was out of sync with others has led me on my path through my entire life and career as a therapist and a healer.
How did those events impact you emotionally/morally? How, if at all did those events impact the way you view how our current system teaches us to treat patients with mental health challenges?
I believe that the integration of my psychological development and my spiritual development happened side by side. I feel that this made me a stronger, and more consciously aware person. I learned through my own experiences that what is non-ordinary does not translate into emotional dysfunction. I was functioning very well with a foot in both worlds. I started my career as a psychotherapist working in an acute admission ward in a psychiatric hospital. In some, I could see the existential confusion created by a spiritual crisis. The key questions were whether they could function on their own, or whether they were so confused within themselves that they were harmful to themselves or others. There were clients who were hearing voices, but perceive them to be outside of themselves rather than internal guidance of the soul. However, the traditional psychiatric team was quick to label both categories of clients as having auditory hallucinations.
I believe that the psychiatric system needs work in evolving, accepting, and recognizing the signs of a spiritual crisis. This is also still an issue for individual practitioners in outpatient agencies and private practice. It is only now that there is more recognition that diet plays a role in depression and anxiety. My vision for the future is to have therapists who work integratively with mind, body, and spirit in both inpatient and outpatient settings.
When and why did you decide to actually focus on practicing Integrative Psychotherapy, specifically, and how was your decision shaped by the experiences above?
As stated, the integration was within me and became stronger over time. It was about 25 years ago that I was introduced to a chiropractor who became my close friend and colleague. He was working outside of the chiropractic box and was doing a great deal of nutritional work and energy work with his clients. He was and still is a master healer by nature. We started to share the same clients, and then I moved my practice into what was his office at the time. We then joined forces shortly after and created a holistic center. My own work now took on another level of integration as my clients were also being treated by him and often an acupuncturist. We are still in the same office together running head to head in our spiritual awareness, energy medicine skills, and level of work with our clients. This path has been a gift in my life.
What methods or practices do you utilize to help individuals get/feel better?
I am a Certified EMDR Therapist and an Approved EMDR Consultant. I use the protocol of EMDR with the integrative approach of mindfulness and spiritual resonance. This creates a solid and effective process to swiftly heal PTSD related to trauma, depression, and anxiety as consciousness awakens. I also teach various meditation programs. Some people take only the meditation classes with me, but some clients will be in individual treatment as well as in a meditation program with me.
I have been offering periodic free online meditations since the beginning of the COVID pandemic. It helps people to lift out of the chaos and fear, and vibrationally rise above it to higher consciousness. People have been joining me from various parts of the world, and they are at peace and glowing by the end of the meditation within the context of a community. My slogan is, “If you can’t go out, go deeper in.”
How did people react when you share this Integrative/Holistic approach with them – whether it be patients or other doctors?
The experience of the approach unfolds organically for the client. Most know that they are entering a holistic center or working with a transpersonal therapist as indicated on my website. I don’t explain much to them at all unless they ask. There are more holistic practitioners in my area now than in the past. If they need biochemical intervention they are very open to seeing a holistic psychiatrist, a functional medicine practitioner, or an acupuncturist. Many come into our center because they do not want to go the traditional root of western psychiatry. I believe that we as healers are the vibrational tools of change, and clients learn to trust the uniqueness of that experience.
Organization: Center Point Counseling
Location: Huntington, NY 11743
Address: 202 East Main St., Suite 102
Tel: (631) 547-5433
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/Irene-Siegel-PhD-158888350861901/