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Spiritual Psychology and Addiction Treatment: The Clearing

What is Spiritual Psychology and how does it fit into an addiction treatment plan? Learn more here!

A broad range of behavioral and psychological modalities are currently in use for the treatment of addiction. But what is the difference between Spiritual Psychology and mainstream Psychotherapy? And how can this treatment modality help people diagnosed with substance abuse disorder?

In this blog post, Joe Koelzer, Co-founder and CEO of The Clearing, SPC, talks about Spiritual Psychology methods. Read the post for more information. Then, leave your additional comments or questions in the comments section at the end.

To start with – What is Spiritual Psychology?

Spiritual Psychology resides at the point where Psychology and Spirituality begin to meet. We use mainstream, evidence based psychological strategies to identify the underlying core mental and emotional issues that are causing the limiting behavior. We then use the Principles of Spiritual Psychology to heal these issues.

This is an important step and really differentiates us from other programs and approaches. Usually, the Participant knows what the issue or event is with which they are struggling. They have identified it many times in the past but they don’t know what to do with it. The Principles gives them a way out of the issue, a new way of holding it, that wasn’t available to them previously. We often hear our Participants say, “why hasn’t someone told me this before?”
What are the principles of Spiritual Psychology?

We work with 21 Principles which are listed below:

1. We are all Spiritual Beings having a Human Experience.
2. The nature of the Universe is Love.
3. Our natural human state is Love.
4. All of life is for Learning.
5. An ‘unresolved issue’ is anything that disturbs your peace.
6. All ‘upset’ points to unresolved issues.
7. Unresolved issues are not bad, rather opportunities for spiritual growth.
8. Nothing outside of you causes your disturbances.
9. You are completely responsible for your experiences in Life.
10. Physical world reality exists for Spiritual growth.
11. Spirit meets you at your point of action.
12. What you believe determines your experience.
13. Your future is created based on how you respond to current experiences.
14. The issue isn’t the issue. The real issue is how you are with yourself as you go through the issue.
15. Healing is the application of Loving to the places inside that hurt.
16. Every time an individual resolves a single issue, all of humanity moves forward in its evolution.
17. Spiritual growth is a process, not an event.
18. Direct Experience is how belief is turned into Knowing.
19. Judgment is self-condemnation. Self-forgiveness is freedom.
20. Your human experience on earth is your school. Your primary goal is to accept and master the lessons from this school.
21. A life filled with Acceptance is a life free of unnecessary emotional suffering.


How is Spiritual Psychology different than mainstream Psychotherapy?

From our perspective, mainstream Psychology focuses on uncovering the underlying core issue. Once it is uncovered, mainstream psychology says “there is the issue, our work is done”. Conventional psychology is great at uncovering the issue but weak on how to HEAL the issue.

With Spiritual Psychology we both uncover the issue and focus on healing it.


What kind of skills are needed to perform the methods of Spiritual Psychology and what are the counseling strategies?

Here at The Clearing we focus on a basic set of counseling skills. Our “go to” skills are:

Seeing the Loving Essence
Seeing the ‘loving heart’ or ‘soul’ in another person.

Heart Center Listening
Listening to another person without judgment, opinion or the desire to view them as ‘flawed’ or ‘needing to be fixed.

Asking Open-Ended Questions
This is a method of asking questions in a manner which does not result in a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer. This technique encourages an unlimited deepening of communication as issues are fully and thoughtfully explored.

Conscious Sharing
Conscious sharing is the willingness to speak in complete honesty and authenticity without holding back.

Perception Checking
Checking perceptions regularly as a conversation progresses eliminates assumptions and misinterpretations. This ensures the conversation is understood with accuracy before moving forward.

Expressing Feelings
Gently encouraging another to experience and express their feelings is an opportunity for deep emotions to be shared and emotional healing to begin.

Prizing is the technique of genuinely praising, affirming, and appreciating each other.

Accepting Personal Responsibility
The cornerstone of Spiritual Psychology, this Principle requires that we accept full responsibility for our experience. This allows movement away from ‘victim’ language and thinking and into authentic power.

Reframing Issues as Blessings
This enables the awareness that challenges we face in life have a higher and underlying positive purpose. We learn to appreciate situations that we once viewed as ‘bad’ are in fact opportunities for learning, and come to view these events as gifts which can offer great benefit to our lives and advancement of the soul.

Silence allows us the opportunity to access deeper levels within ourselves. We are able reflect on what we just said without interruption, allowing the opportunity to experience a deeper level of communication with ourselves.

Identifying, Owning and Accepting Projections
This is an effective reminder that we may have a similar issue requiring more attention within ourselves when the actions of another person are upsetting.

Positive Self Talk
This is the rewiring of our automatic negative thought patterns. Unaddressed, the average human will experience thousands of negative thoughts each day.

Self Forgiveness
This is forgiving ourselves for judging ourselves and forgiving ourselves for judging other people, events and situations. The ultimate healing comes from authentic, compassionate Self Forgiveness.

We also teach and use a variety of Counseling Strategies including:

Object Relations
Mental upset as seen as the result of childhood wounds. Object Relations therapy is targeted on healing this wounded material through the therapist-to-client bond. In our Program we take this a step further in teaching Participants to create an adult-to-child bond within themselves.

Reality Therapy (Behavioral Therapy)
Mental illness is seen as resulting in faulty behavioral patterns. The goal is creating a more functional plan of action and adhering to or adjusting this plan.

Gestalt Therapy
Mental upset is seen as resulting from traumatic experiences from our past. If these experiences are not “worked through,” it creates within the mind “unfinished business.”  Participants work on “completion” of this business.

Mental upset is seen as people living in the past or in the future – away from their loving center.  Participants work on living in the “here and now.”

Person-Centered Therapy
When people feel listened to, respected and loved, they are able to tap into their own innate resources to heal.

Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP)
Within each of us resides many aspects of our personality.  Sometimes these aspects can be in conflict with each other or an aspect may be found to be the cause of a certain type of behavior or reaction.  NLP allows one to work with these aspects to heal or modify the behavior, conflict or reaction.

Family Systems
This is a process of examining hereditary and multi-generational limiting patterns.  Participants gain an understanding of the family dynamics that are alive within them.  This awareness leads to issue identification, understanding and acceptance with the goal of becoming one’s own individual.

Developmental Psychology
The understanding that human development progresses in predictable age stages.  Mental disturbance occurs when there is a trauma during one of these stages.

Self Counseling
The process of using any or all of the strategies listed above on one’s self. Participants learn to become their own counselor.


In The Clearing, the patients have the opportunity to learn self counseling skills. What is the approach here, what kind of skills are they gaining exactly?

In Self Counseling, once the Participants have mastered the skills and strategies listed above by working with our staff and with each other, they are then ready to counsel themselves. We assist them in developing a relationship with their Inner Counselor and then work closely with them as they master the Self Counseling Process.

Each of us has an Inner Counselor within. This is that all knowing, all wise, unconditionally loving part that we can access at anytime once we are aware of its existence. With this relationship in place, we can now do the deepest level of healing we have ever experienced. No longer do I have to explain myself to another person or try to explain how I feel; the Inner Counselor knows. The IC also knows my secrets and my inner most thoughts. Now some extremely deep healing can happen.

As I am answering this question, we are completing Day 19 with our current class. This happens to be the day that we introduce Self Counseling and I’m able to share some feedback real time. I just witnessed our Participants sharing about the deep emotional healing they have experienced by doing their first Self Counseling. As they get used to doing this, the healing will be even deeper. I wish you could see it, it is amazing to see.


What is the difference in the 12 step program, and the alternatives that are offered in The Clearing? What are the advantages of these?

From our perspective, people have addictions to “numb out” in one form or another from feelings inside that they have and don’t know what to do with these feelings. In order for them to truly heal and be free of their addiction, the underlying core mental and emotional issues causing these feelings must be address and healed. With this work done, the feelings disappear along with the need for the addictive behavior.

Simply stated, the 12 Steps doesn’t work with the underlying core mental and emotional issues. It isn’t a psychological program and it doesn’t represent itself as one. People think they will get his help from a 12 Step program but they won’t.

Most of the people that we work with are 12 Step “veterans”. They have been through one of more treatment programs based on the Steps, they have been to their meetings, they have worked diligently on their Steps but it just doesn’t work for them because of these underlying core issues. We work with them to heal these issues and they then have a new outlook on life.


The Clearing offers an addiction treatment guarantee – most places don’t. What is your guarantee?

Most treatment programs don’t offer any guarantee. If you are still struggling after you leave other programs they simply say you weren’t diligent in your work. They take no responsibility for the quality of their program.

We have taken a different approach. We stand behind our Program. Here is our guarantee:

If, after completion of The Clearing’s Program, fulfilled with honest, authentic and full compliance with all Program requirements, full participation in The Clearing’s AfterCare Program, fulfillment of all discharge plan actions and the Participant’s authentic application of the tools learned at The Clearing, a Participant’s issues reappear, the Participant may go through the Program once again, space permitting.

If you do everything we ask of you and you are still struggling with your addiction, doesn’t it make sense that we should accept some of the responsibility for your situation and help you with this?


Is there anything else you would like to share?

We think it is time for changes in the addiction treatment industry. It is time for us to recognize that the addiction is the symptom, not the illness. The illness is the underlying core mental and emotional issues that are present. These issues are creating feelings that the addict is trying to control by numbing out. It is time for us to assist these folks in healing these issues. If we heal these issues, the need to use disappears. To us, this is the real way out of the addiction.


Thank you, Joe Koelzer, for sharing your thoughts about spiritual psychology and your treatment center The Clearing, SPC.  

The Clearing’s website is You can contact them at (425) 275-8600 or joe (at) theclearingnw (dot) com.

What do you think about what Joe Koelzer has to say? Leave a comment below

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Important Disclaimer

This is not a licensed or medically-approved program or treatment. Rather, this site teaches timeless principles, that if applied, can help people overcome their addictions or other bad habits. In the case of prolonged or intense drug or alcohol use, we recommend that you work with an addiction or medical professional, especially before you first stop consumption of the addictive substance. In the case of alcohol, not doing so may result in death. In the case of other drugs, a professional may be able to reduce the discomfort of withdrawal.
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