• Heather Austin

Who Am I Really?

What does it mean that I am a Shamanic Counselor and Psychotherapist? How am I different than other mental health therapists? It has become time for me to step into the fullness of my authenticity professionally, to unite the parts of me that have been neglected lately in pursuit of fitting into a model that doesn't work for me. Counseling has always been a calling rather than a profession for me. Now I realize that that means it is spiritual work in my case. I need to honor that now.


Yes, I am a psychotherapist. I got my Masters in Counseling, passed the national test to be a certified counselor, and engaged with DORA appropriately as a registered psychotherapist. This means that I have the background to recognize significant mental illness, and help my clients access the services that are available to them in the medical world. Also, with my background in medicine, I can spot the effects of physical health issues that may be impacting someone's mental health.


I am also an herbalist. I trained with highly respected teachers and specialized in emotional health, long before I decided to pursue academic degrees in psychology and counseling. This has given me a foundation in plant medicine, holistic health, inward looking diagnosis skills, and a nice little toolbox of remedies I can knowledgeably recommend to clients who choose not to take pharmaceuticals for their symptoms. I am also familiar with plants whose purpose is on the soul level, mind-altering plants that can be allied with appropriately to help people transcend ordinary reality and gain a different perspective on their life. They are welcome as part of the process of healing for people who are drawn to that medicine.


I am a witch and a shaman. This means I am well familiar with the unseen realms and the ways that trance and ritual and spell work can help people to live a more full and rich life. The earth and stars and their cycles have definite impact on humans. Working on the symbolic level touches parts of the psyche that talking and rationality just don't get to. I am skilled at designing interventions that can touch that deeper level for people. We can work together to come up with something meaningful and powerful that may not look at all like what other people do, is not remotely scientifically provable or repeatable, and yet can yield such powerful results that you just might be amazed. And we can journey into the depths of your psyche and the Otherworld to find parts of yourself that have messages to bring to you, have needs that they are looking to you to fill, and higher wisdom that you might not have access to in your ordinary consciousness. This may look similar to various mindfulness techniques, or remind you of other counseling modalities, and that is ok. No one path holds the patent on Truth.


I am an Edge Walker. One foot in light and one in shadow, I can comfortably bridge the worlds of the sacred and the profane, the spiritual and the physical, internal and external. Be it through intense body sensation, sending out the energy of binding and banishing, or embracing that which usually resides deep in the shadowy realms of consciousness, I can help people through what feels like shame, vulnerability, relationships with Power and Passion, and the ugliness and chaos of times of transformation.


I am an Empath. This means at times I receive in my body or emotions the sensations of what others are going through. Many have this ability, and many of them don't know how to manage it so that it doesn't run their lives or lead them into dangerous territory. I can help people learn to sort through their feelings to find what is theirs, what energy has come from others, and how to release what doesn't belong to them. I am skilled at teaching shielding of ones physical and spiritual space, and have several methods at my disposal to cleanse and charge both space and items for the benefit of those who see me. For the more mundane minded folks, this looks like helping someone learn to say No and set appropriate boundaries with people who are detrimental to their wellbeing, thought reframing, or clearing clutter that holds memories of people or times that you need to leave behind.


I am a Priestess. This means that I am skilled at bringing people together for a shared purpose, harmonizing their energies, and channeling them toward a goal. I can create a meaningful experience for small groups, making sure that each person takes away from it what they need to receive. I can also sit with someone who is questioning their path or their truth, and help them find a way forward that is their own unique expression. I can teach, lead, and empower others. I can facilitate rites of passage such as births, deaths, joinings and partings, coming of age, and other major life transitions. I would dearly love to someday facilitate an identity affirming ceremony for a trans person.


Making the switch from simply being a psychotherapist, to being a shamanic counselor as well, means that I am able to fully embrace these various parts of myself, and bring them to bear freely in my work with people. I do not need to pretend to be just like those who practice from the more standard manual of counseling. I do not need to prove myself worthy to anyone but maybe myself, and my clients. I can choose not to jump through the hoops that other counselors accept as a normal part of their practice. I am not like others. I am myself. And I am wonderful and magnificent and powerful in that!

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