Magic as Psychotherapy: Honoring the Frameworks of Contemporary Pagans

The presentation honors the theme of the conference in its description of how an intentional crossing of the border between religious concepts and psychotherapeutic intervention strategies might be a uniquely powerful and empowering strategy for Pagan clients, as well as an advocacy of an attitude of respect for the boundaries and frameworks of contemporary Pagans.

The presentation will introduce the rapidly growing religion known loosely as contemporary Paganism. It will also elucidate the nature of the uneasy relationship between Paganism and the psychology profession and describe the conflicting attitudes that many contemporary Pagans have toward mental health professionals. From there, it will discuss the correspondence among important Pagan beliefs, values, and practices and key concepts from major psychological theories. It will describe how psychotherapists may utilize this correspondence to encourage positive therapeutic change and growth, focusing particularly on Pagan belief in the concept and efficacy of magic and ritual. This presentation is intended to facilitate awareness and cultural competence among therapists who may encounter Pagan clients. The likelihood of this prospect is increasing significantly, as according to religious scholars, Paganism may well be the most rapidly growing “new” religion in the United States (Adler, 2006).

Drake Spaeth, Assistant Professor, The Chicago School

Drake Spaeth, PsyD is a licensed clinical psychologist and faculty member of the MA Clinical Psychology Department, Counseling Specialization at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology. He is also an ordained minister in a contemporary Pagan context. Among his professional interests are a fascination with religion and spirituality across diverse social contexts, Humanistic-Existential and Transpersonal Psychology, and the connection between spirituality and positive psychotherapeutic change. Dr. Spaeth is an alumnus of The Chicago School, and he has worked in diverse settings such as the US Air Force, residential treatment centers, hospitals, counseling centers, and private clinical practices. He currently operates a private practice that focuses on spiritual counseling.