Episode 143 How To Incorporate Astrology & Other Pagan Practices Into Trauma & Holistic Therapy: Interview with Vanessa Holliman

Sep 20, 2023

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How can you begin to integrate astrology and other pagan practices into modern counseling? How can these unconventional tools facilitate healing and growth for your clients?

MEET Vanessa Holliman

Vanessa is a Rape Survivor Empowerment Coach, Holistic Nutritionist, Licensed Clinical Social Worker, and trauma survivor who helps her clients by creating a roadmap of success for life after sexual trauma. Each of her individualized packages of guidance and mapping encompasses actionable steps, embodiment practices, nutrition guidance, and flexible, crafted practices that any individual can take on their own journey toward wellness. As she was going through her own healing journey, there wasn’t a Spiritual, Bad Bitch, Therapist to guide her, so she created her.

Find out more at Being Wholistic and connect with Vanessa on  Instagram 


  • Integrating astrology into therapy 4:39
  • How do you begin using alternative modalities in practice? 11:16
  • Integrating Pagan practices in therapy?  29:45

Integrating Astrology Into Therapy

  • The importance of finding out why people are coming to therapy in the first place
  • How to utilize astrology as a blueprint for your life
  • What does it mean to live out of alignment with our values?
  • What does your Venus placement mean?

How Do You Begin Using Alternative Modalities In Practice?

  • The importance of making sure you are a good fit with your clients
  • Best practices for introducing your clients to new modalities 
  • Techniques for building rapport with your clients
  • What is Buti Yoga?

Integrating Pagan Practices In Therapy

  • Understanding how our emotional well-being works with the phases of the moon
  • What is a poverty mindset?
  • What is an abundance mindset?
  • The importance of being intentional with your words when working with clients
  • What are the ethical concerns when using different modalities?

Connect With Me

Instagram @holisticcounselingpodcast


Join the private Facebook group

Sign up for my free email course: www.holisticcounselingpodcast.com

The Art of Breath: How to Integrate Breathwork Techniques for Effective Therapy Sessions with Chris McDonald, LCMHCS

Rate, review, and subscribe to this podcast on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, TuneIn, Spotify, and Google Podcasts.

Resources Mentioned And Useful Links:

Find out more at Being Wholistic and connect with Vanessa on  Instagram 

The Tarot Activity Book: A Collection of Creative and Therapeutic Ideas for the Cards

Tarot Activities Workshop With Dreya Blume

Resources Mentioned And Useful Links:

Find out more at Heather Ivany and connect with Heather on  Instagram 


The Practice Of Therapy

Kindness & Compassion Podcast


Chris McDonald: Today we're moving into the realm of astrology and pagan practices, uncovering how these ancient traditions can be skillfully integrated into modern counseling. To facilitate profound healing and growth, we'll be exploring how these unconventional tools can empower both clients and practitioners to navigate the complex landscapes of trauma and personal transformation.

Come with me as we step outside the realm of traditional therapy into more holistic practices. On today's episode, this is Holistic Counseling, the podcast for mental health therapists who want to deepen their knowledge of holistic modalities and build their practice with confidence. I'm your host, Chris McDonald, licensed therapist.

I am so glad you're here for the journey.

Welcome to today's episode of the Holistic Counseling podcast. Trauma, as we know it, it can leave deep imprints on the mind. body and spirit. While traditional therapeutic methods are valuable, there's growing movement towards using more holistic approaches that acknowledge the interconnectedness of our being.

Astrology, with its roots in celestial patterns and archetypal energies, offers a unique lens through which to understand and heal trauma. Pagan practices, which honor the cycles of nature and the divine within, provide us with a rich tapestry of rituals and wisdom that can guide us through the process of healing.

In today's episode, we're joined by a remarkable guest, Vanessa Holloman. She's a rape survivor, empowerment coach, and holistic nutritionist, licensed clinical social worker, and a trauma survivor who helps her clients by creating a roadmap of success for life after sexual trauma. Welcome to the holistic counseling podcast, Vanessa.

Vanessa Holliman: Thank you so much for having me. Can

Chris McDonald: you share some more about yourself so listeners can get to know who you are?

Vanessa Holliman: Yes, absolutely. I am by profession, a licensed clinical social worker, better known to my clients as, uh, the witchy therapist. I specialize in helping people through their trauma healing journey by using a whole bunch of Holistic practices.

I like the word holistic because it's more open. However, when clients learn to work with me, I'm very witchy. So there'll be a lot of witchy stuff that we talk about.

Chris McDonald: So it's embracing the witchy side too. Yes. Oh, I love that so much. Can I just read what I just shared with Vanessa from her website? I think listeners will love this quote.

Is that okay? If I share that, so, cause I always talk on this podcast, obviously holistic practices and what is holistic, but I think she has a beautiful quote on her website. So listeners just listen to this. Let me know what you think. So you are an interconnected system of stars, each with magic that holds the power to take you from where you are to the future.

You want these internal solar systems are deeply connected healing. One can heal others. Healing everything will heal the whole. Mic drop. Yes. What does that mean to you, Vanessa? Well, uh,

Vanessa Holliman: yes. So when people go to my website, they'll realize that when I say holistic, I add the W. back into holistic, and I do that very intentionally because I feel that traditionally psychotherapy just focuses on the brain.

Those of us who work in trauma therapy will find that funny because we know that trauma lives in the body. It doesn't live in the brain. And the common theme that I found for clients wanting to work with me is that prior therapist only did the trauma therapy of the mind and never did the therapy of the body.

And so they were still stuck with all of the feelings of the trauma, despite understanding. the trauma in the mind. And so I like to tell people that I look at the whole person, which means that we have to heal the body to actually heal the trauma that has the effects.

Chris McDonald: That's beautifully said and exactly where I come from to my approach.

But I wanted you to come on to talk about some other holistic practices that I'm so excited about. So I know this was something I had heard about some therapists using, but I wasn't sure. And that's astrology. in therapy and pagan practices, heard a little bit about that. So how did you become interested in both of these?


Vanessa Holliman: So I am a survivor of, of my own traumas and going through my own healing journey. Me being a hardcore Aries. I was like, I'm not going to go to a therapist. I have all of these skills and all of these tools. I think that I can just heal myself. And in that journey, I realized that there was just a lot of things that I learned in school that just wasn't enough to actually heal me, mind, body, soul.

And then that's when I went to my own practices that I used. Personally, of using yoga and using tarot, and I do a lot of abundance practices, I do offerings to Mother Earth to bring very specific energy back into my life. And that was such a part of my healing journey that I asked myself, why am I depriving other people from access to these tools and resources that I feel brought me back to myself?

And so I believe that people come to therapy because they need to make sense of their life. And I feel that astrology is a meaning making system that a lot of people can utilize to understand what's going on in their life and their trajectory. I love astrology because to me that's the blueprint of our life.

I am a firm believer. That if we teach people how to break down their birth charts in their teenage years, They're given a roadmap of what the rest of their life could look like if they embody certain values and certain traits, whether they choose the shadow or the light or they integrate in between.

And so I believe that I am just teaching people how to best read themselves from an outside lens, right? I believe that astrology is a beautiful form of storytelling. That allows us an outside perspective into our internal world.

Chris McDonald: So it's really helping clients to understand more of their journey and themselves and help them figure out tools to move forward, I guess, and heal themselves.

I love that as a blueprint and guide. Wow. That's awesome. Cause I've never had like my astrology chart, right? And so I'm now I'm like, you got me really curious, like what this is like. And like, just for

Vanessa Holliman: like a small kind of taste of what's that like, I believe that depression and anxiety, as we know, is a root cause of cognitive dissonance.

I believe that that cognitive dissonance is essentially living out of alignment of our values. And so a lot of my clients. coming from trauma, they're not really sure what their values are or if their values come from a healthy place. And so I'm like, okay, we're going to go to your Venus placement. Your Venus placement is linked to your values.

So if you don't know where you want to start, let's start from up above and let's see where astrology says that we should look for your value base. And more likely than not. When I actually help people tune into themselves in their ways, it's usually very accurate of where their values are. And then we can really start diving deep of like, okay, now we know where your values are.

Where were those beliefs? come from? Are these beliefs just based on your poor? They're based on your experience? Are they based on, you know, patterns that you've been led to believe? And so now let's dig deep. And so that's kind of when I take a more psychoanalytical approach of really understanding, you know, why The why of things to really help clients kind of better understand themselves and their journey and how to move forward.

Most definitely how to move forward. A lot of my work is I understand my trauma, but now that I understand it, how do I navigate the world with this knowledge so that I can live at my best optimal self?

Chris McDonald: So I know you mentioned Venus placement. So I don't know what any of this is. So I'm going to guess that listeners don't when people say stuff because I have a lot of clients who are into astrology.

Sometimes they'll say like Saturn rising. I'm like, I have no idea what they're talking about. Can you share a little more what that means with Venus placement and values? Yeah,

Vanessa Holliman: no, absolutely. So in astrology, Venus is just the planet. That is said to guide us for love, but it's not just love. It's also your values.

It's also where your second house lives. And our second house is all about like our possessions, money, our physical resources, also our desires. So Venus ruling essentially our second house, then that is where essentially where astrologers were believed that that's where our values reside in. And so really, really easy, a free app that I like to guide a lot of my clients to is called Time Passages.

And you can put your birth information in there. My recommendation is to utilize, it'll ask you what type of chart that you want. It'll ask you like, Placidus or Whole Houses. Most apps use Whole Houses, which is not a full accurate picture. So if you change that to Placidus, it'll actually give you your true blueprint.

or birth chart so that you can break it down and it'll actually give you a full explanation for

Chris McDonald: free. And birth chart, so that is exactly what is that? It

Vanessa Holliman: is where the planets were in the sky at the exact time that you were born. Okay. So for instance, a Saturn rising would be that the Saturn Is at the placement right now that it was when you were born, which typically only happens every 26 to 28 years.

So that's a very big return because a lot of things should have happened in the 1st, 26 to 28 years.

Chris McDonald: Okay. So how do you start with this with clients in therapy? I'm just guessing because I know some of my clients would love this because they're already into this, but I'm guessing that some are just like, what, no,

Vanessa Holliman: I started the consultation process.

I always let my clients know that a consultation goes both ways. It's. Making sure that the therapist fits you, but that you also fit the therapist. Again, because I specialize in trauma, a lot of my clients feel lost. They don't know where to start. They don't know where to begin. And usually the trauma that I work in is specifically around domestic violence and sexual abuse.

And so having that experience, they lose their intuition. They don't know if what they're experiencing is reality. They don't know if it's a trauma response. They don't know what it is, if it's a disassociation, sometimes. And so their birth chart and astrology and tarot gives them a way to lock into something outside of themselves to essentially rebuild their intuition.

And so I. Ask them during the consultation, one, how they even feel about themselves, if they actually trust themselves, because a lot of the work has to come from trusting themselves. I really make sure that my clients know that I am just the conduit. They're the one doing all the work. I'm the one giving them the tools.

I'm the one that giving them the resources, but that they have to believe that they have the capacity within themselves. And then we just. build that capacity through different tools. And so that's kind of how I introduce it as a tool to rebuild their intuition and the clients that are open to it. I do disclose some of my trauma and how I use those very specific tools.

in my life and based on how I present myself now and the trauma that I have overcome, I think that my clients believe that the tools and the resources work. And so they trust me. And then in trusting me, I help them realize that they're actually building them trust back in themselves.

Chris McDonald: That's what I wondered.

What if they don't have that trust in themselves from the beginning? A lot of them

Vanessa Holliman: don't. Yeah. And they trust me. I think the big thing Is that one of the major differences between working with myself and working with other professionals in this field is that because I work so closely with survivors of sexual abuse, they really want to know that you know what their experience is.

And because I am a survivor of, um, sexual trauma, they know that I know on a very personal level what our bodies are going through during and after that experience. And so I think that them just knowing that we have the same lived experience, they naturally assume, Oh, you know, if this helps Vanessa, it's going to help me.

And of course, I have to be realistic and be like, Hey, I also have other things that you may not have access to like a support system. Right. And so obviously I have to. Explain that just because these things worked right in my path and my journey, it may not work in yours, but I think them just knowing that we have a same lived experience, they're a lot more open to try things than some of my clients that actually don't have that lived experience with.

Yeah, I

Chris McDonald: imagine that really helps you to kind of build rapport too, that they feel like, oh, she gets it. Mm-hmm. . And that you really can feel that bond with them a little bit more, too, and that empathy, I'm sure, is huge.

Vanessa Holliman: Yes, and we start, so we start small. When I say, like, we start small, we start with a self care wheel.

I have all of my clients do a self care assessment because, to me, that's very, very key in holistic practices is Taking care of ourselves and what we're doing to nurture ourselves first, right? Especially with my trauma survivors, it's all about what they can tap into within themselves because it's usually the external that has violated them, um, in some way, shape or form.

And so. Throughout that process, I have fallen deeply in love with the booty yoga. And so that is my embodiment of choice when I'm working with clients and I want them to engage in physical energy movements. A lot of the holistic practices that I used are based in somatic practices as well. And so really encouraging clients to move energy through their body because a lot of the energy is stuck within their body.

So I teach them that. There's yoga, there's different somatic practices, also working out. I also connect people with Reiki workers because that's also a great way to have energy movement when you can't actually physically move your body. A lot of trauma survivors struggle with their relationship with food.

And so I decided I'm going to add that tool underneath my belt as well. So I'm also a certified holistic nutritionist. And so I also develop meal plans for my clients. A lot of women, as we know that autoimmune disorders are the result of acute inflammation. Acute inflammation, a lot of the time is stemmed from storage trauma.

And a lot of our doctors just give us. Medications that are just going to treat the symptoms and not actually treat the root cause of the inflammation. And so a lot of working me with me is also changing how they see food and how they nurture their body and how they take care of their body. Because that also goes back to building the intuition of how you treat yourself is how you're going to allow others to treat you.

Yeah, that's powerful. Right? And so really, really helping clients understand how much them taking care of their mind, body, spirit, then allows them to attract other people that are going to encourage them to also do the same. Yeah. So

Chris McDonald: I just want to rewind back to you said booty yoga. So I have not heard of this.

Can you share what this is as well? Oh,

Vanessa Holliman: absolutely. So booty yoga, which is B U T I is the only Yoga practice that was curated by a woman for a woman's body. All other yoga practices were actually curated for men's bodies and men's energetic spheres, which is why a lot of the poses. are a lot more rigid and less flexible where booty yoga is all about embodying divine feminine energy.

And therefore it is a lot more about flow and actual energy movements. And so it is a beautiful combination of. plyometrics, a lot of sacral and solar chakra plexus work, a lot of movement and gyrations in that, and then a lot of intentional breath. Because there's so much plyometrics, we go through a lot of actually high tempo and then low tempo of actually teaching clients mindfulness through breath work to actually help their body be able to sustain because the workouts are usually about 45 to 90 minutes.

which can be really intense. Because I work with a lot of clients that have chronic pain, I have actually partnered up with a booty instructor and we actually do a lot of low impact type of movements so that clients that are less mobile can actually participate and also get that same um, healing modality from them.

Chris McDonald: I'm so glad you have that awareness because I have chronic pain and I find that a lot of people that don't they just don't have that thought. They don't give a thought to that. And everybody can do this. And it's like, Hello, I can't.

Vanessa Holliman: Yeah, I actually offer a whole free 15 minutes low tempo. No weight, body movement, just so that I can even show people, Hey, there is an actual practice for you.

And if all you have is 15 minutes, great. That's all I need is it's 15 minutes of your time to show you how you can move in a way that'll make your body feel. And how awesome

Chris McDonald: that you're like a one stop shop for the nutrition too, and, and the physical moving and astrology. Oh my gosh, this is well, hence the holistic.

Vanessa Holliman: Yes.

Chris McDonald: You're even who put

Vanessa Holliman: definition in the holistic is I really try to offer a little bit of everything in one package because that was the other thing that we know. Professionals know in this field is that we have to refer our clients to so many people sometimes, right? I'm dealing with your psychiatrist, okay?

Not only am I dealing with your psychiatrist, I'm also dealing with your primary care physician because they're also prescribing you something different. Okay, a lot of my clients are usually also overweight and so they're working with a dietician or a nutritionist and so I have to coordinate with them because a lot of them are not talking to one another.

And so, because I know what it's like to navigate the medical healthcare system, I was a case manager for five years when I first started in the behavioral health system. So I know all how difficult it is navigating all those things. And so my end goal is actually to have an in person, uh, trauma treatment center where I actually do offer everything in person as a one stop shop because I recognize how hard it is.

for people to actually access all of these resources in one place when they should be in one place, because we should be treating the whole person and not parts of a person. Yeah.

Chris McDonald: Yeah. Cause that's difficult to navigate too. Especially I see some people with chronic health issues and they already have multiple MDs and you know, and then you.

Adding in some holistic things, it's just, it can be overwhelming to, to navigate. And

Vanessa Holliman: that's the other major caveat, which I'm sure that you talk about a lot on the podcast is that if someone is working with medical professionals, while yes, I also have that education, I always tell my clients that I want them to refer to either their psychiatrist, right?

Or their medical doctor, or just sign a release of information. And I, I usually typically just talk to them myself, just because. A lot of people in our society don't recognize that our medical field is all about pharmaceuticals. And so a lot of my clients come to me because they want to get off of pharmaceuticals, is that they want to live a life without antidepressants, without anti anxiety medication, or at least the smallest amount of medications to be able to function.

And so the fact that I offer natural holistic ways, I offer a lot of supplements as well. And quite a few of my clients have actually been able to get completely off of pharmaceuticals and go completely to a natural supplement approach. So that's been really, really great in their healing journeys as well.

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Vanessa Holliman: So

Chris McDonald: can I just rewind back to the astrology for a minute. So how did you learn all this? Did you learn on your own or was there trainings that you did? You know, a

Vanessa Holliman: combination of a whole bunch of things, to be perfectly honest with you. I grew up in a very interesting household. My mother Nazarene pastor.

And my father grew up in a Southern Baptist style upbringing. And so I grew up very, very heavily in Christian, uh, beliefs, Christian households. And through my own childhood trauma, I was trying to make sense of what was happening to me. And the adults in my life just kept telling me that I was very, very smart.

And that I just wasn't reading the Bible hard enough. And that I wasn't praying hard enough and that I just needed to keep going to the Bible. And I just needed to keep going to church. And eventually that the answers would come for me, that was not enough for me. And thankfully my amazing, amazing mother and her wonderful indigenous roots was like, Hey, you know that there's other practices in the world outside of Christianity.

And I said, no. And so my mother, who is just very open minded was like, let's just try, let's learn about different religions and whatever feels good to you is what feels good to you. And so I went to a Catholic church with a friend and then I studied the book of Mormonism with friends and I kind of did a plethora of experimenting.

And then when I was 14, 15 years old, I found Wicca. And at that time of my life, it gave me so many answers of looking outside of the internal person and to the external world and how it manifests into our lives. And then it just kind of took off, um, throughout my life doing a lot of shadow work. I wanted to get back into my indigenous roots and understand where some of my generational trauma came from.

And doing generational trauma work, that is really what brought me to learning a lot more of astrology and looking into plants. And so I think that I needed a reason of why these horrible things were happening to me. I, I needed to know that there was a purpose, that there was a reason for these things to happen, not that they were just happening.

And astrology gave me the answer. And because it gave me the answer, I think naturally I just stuck with it. I think

Chris McDonald: that's beautiful though, that you were able to explore in different realms. And because I know most parents, I know my parents were like, Here, here's church. Here's where you go. This is it.

You know, I just think if more people could have that openness that your mom had, that's just

Vanessa Holliman: beautiful. Well, and I love the way that she even messaged

it to me, right? Like that was her. And I remember that so much as a kid because I didn't feel, have a lot of trauma. I didn't feel good a lot as a kid. And so now that has really been a message that has kind of stuck with me throughout my life is like, Vanessa, does this feel good? Like your body. will actually tell you whether or not this feels good.

And it's a wonderful example I like to use with a lot of my clients, especially the ones that aren't as open to energy work. Um, one of the examples that I like to use with them is that we are essentially batteries. We are protons, electrons, neutrons, all of those things are running through our bodies, and we are energy.

And I'm like, have you ever met someone and your body was literally like, Almost like repelling that person that your physical body actually like made you stop and they're like, yeah, I'm like, you know, when you try to put two negatives or two positives of a battery together and you can actually feel the force.

of them repelling themselves. I'm like, yeah, I'm like, have you felt that towards a human before? Yeah. And I'm like, yeah, that's literally your body telling you that energetically you're not compatible with this person. And every person that I've ever talked to in my life can relate to having that experience.

And I'm like, okay, if you can relate to that experience, how can you tell me that not, that all of everything else in this world is not energetically connected? And I think that if you can get someone to just accept that little piece or A variation of another right piece that we can find that makes sense for people.

I think that's when you can kind of start opening their minds to, to other things or other avenues of healing and thinking.

Chris McDonald: Yeah. Other possibilities. I think I always like talk about possibilities too with clients too, that aren't, aren't quite sure of some of these practices and yeah. So what about the pagan practices you mentioned?

I know you said you like to use some of those too with clients.

Vanessa Holliman: Yes, so I do a lot of narrative work, a lot of narrative scripting, and so a lot of my clients, they don't know in the beginning, they eventually know because they eventually ask me. And so, of course, I, I'm fully transparent, but almost all of their journal prompts are based on the phases of the moon.

That's so cool. And if not the phase of the moon, right? So if we're not in a full moon or a new moon or crescent moon or gibbous moon, that kind of directs us of where the moon. Oh, I guess I should say why I do that. The reason why I use the moon specifically is because the moon tells us our emotional wellbeing.

The moon is what's directly connected with our emotional wellbeing, which is kind of why anyone who works on like the mental health field is like, Oh no, full moon. Yes. Right. It's because it's real. Like throughout history during full moons, freaky things happen because that is just when the moon is just a lot, lot closer to us.

And a lot of energetic things are being felt. Right. Um, so that is really true. It is.

Chris McDonald: Yeah, no, it is


Vanessa Holliman: true. It is. It is really true. That's why. We have like, when we have like super or full moons, it's just because of how close the moon actually is to the sun that makes it the super or whatever it is that how we experience just because those energies are so strong.

And so when I'm asking clients to think deeper about their lives and where some of their patterns are coming from, or some of their choices are coming from, or some of their negative thoughts. And they're like, I don't know. And I have to really get them to dig deeper. Again, their journal prompts are used from the moon when I have clients who, uh, struggle with, uh, what I call a poverty mindset.

I believe a poverty mindset is when we become happy, not happy, content. In the state of grind, meaning we know we're going to work our entire lives and that we're probably never going to retire or that retirement looks like for us, just not working full time anymore, but still working. And so, for me, that's never actually being able to enjoy.

Our lives, right? And a lot of trauma survivors get stuck in the poverty mindset because that's what's created safety for them. They know what to expect, right? And for them, that's it. That's what they need to know. They need no more surprises. They need no more change. They want that consistency and I'm Fortunately, that consistency can keep people in a poverty mindset.

I like to believe in abundance because to me, abundance is the only place that possibilities and opportunities can live, is in a place where it's fostered. And so I have them do abundance rituals. And a lot of clients are like, what are abundance rituals? And I believe for you. To make room for something or for you to call in something, there has to be this space in your energy to do it.

So an abundance ritual is giving something higher than yourself. So for me, that source for Christians, that's God and offering. My offering is going out into mother nature and planting seeds and giving back to the insects and bringing them treats and watering and pruning and really grounding myself in the earth.

And then living a lifestyle that is living most in line with protecting her as much as I can, right? I'm asking her for all of these things. I'm asking her for love. I'm asking her for happiness. I'm asking her for joy, but what am I offering back to her? And so that's where abundance for me comes from is we have to give to be able to receive.

And so that is, I do that through. For me, it's through a fairy garden. For some clients, it's, I have them, I'm going to have you go bury. A dollar somewhere and in a month, they'll actually come back to me and be like, Vanessa, I got five. I magically got five more extra dollars in my account. I had somebody pay me back money that and having these positive things then switches their brain from the poverty mindset to the opportunity mindset or the growth mindset or the abundance mindset, which then changes them to gratitude.

And within our profession, we know then that is also what usually breaks free of the depression. So that's another one of my little, my, my pagan tools. Uh, I have all of my clients sabbarete the Sabbath, the, uh, the, the eight Sabbaths that are in. The witchy calendar, a lot of them, because I tell them that a lot of them were grown up in Christianity and they celebrated things that they really didn't know what they meant anyway.

And so I teach them the origins and offer them a way to connect, um, with the indigenous folks of that origin to actually see if it gives them a deeper meaning. See if it actually touches them and makes them feel something more than how they experienced it previously. And these are amazing

Chris McDonald: tools that I think that a lot of therapists wouldn't know about.

So I think the idea of offerings with Mother Earth, that's just beautiful. I think that this can be so helpful. And I guess as homework for them too, you give that as

Vanessa Holliman: assignment. Yes, and that's the other thing, and the words that we use are so important, right? So the words that I use with my clients are very, very intentional, and that is because I tell them that every word that they speak into the universe is a spell.

Every time you say something and you put those words in a certain order, you are telling the universe, you are telling the energy around you what to do with those words, with those spells. And so little things like affirmations do so, so much. And I don't think enough people give credit to, you know, the little things that we utilize right in, in our everyday life.

And so for me, it was. A lot of the things that we're taught professionally, I think we don't dig deep sometimes and actually go to like, where did this original person get this teaching from? Like, what is this actually based off of? And that's just the type of person that I am. That's just part of my astrology.

I am that. I want to understand the why. person. So I was always that student of, okay, you're telling me this, but why is it that I'm actually doing this? Why is this so important? And so me figuring out the why was really learning that our indigenous folks were all about living in harmony with mother nature.

And that's why. So many of the ailments that we see in present day, we didn't really see before is because before we were all about living in harmony with each other, which then means being in harmony with source. And so that's kind of the other part that goes back to the quote that you love so much, right, is healing one can heal others.

And so what I mean by that is I, myself, I say healed and I'm wary to use that word sometimes because people think, Oh, you're healed. That means your, your trauma doesn't affect you anymore. Absolutely freaking not. That is not what that means whatsoever. What I mean by healed is that my trauma no longer defines how I navigate throughout the world.

And so I believe that because I have that lens, I then can teach others that lens. And then people that see them and how they're living their lives, then they have the opportunity to. To teach. And so that's why I think healing ourselves, heal the whole is because when we are living the most authentic in ourselves and people can see the joy, not the happiness, but the joy that we have within us, that then resonates to the outside, it then inspires them to want to experience that.

And that's how we heal the world, is by living in a place of trying to inspire others to be their most authentic self. And so that's what being a whole, for me, means.

Chris McDonald: Yeah, that's, that's a lot to think about there, how powerful that can be too. And those connections and how we treat each other and the world and Mother Earth, it's really makes a huge difference, doesn't it?

Yeah. So what about the ethical concerns with using anything like astrology or pagan

Vanessa Holliman: practice? I'm glad you asked that. Yes, because I know many listeners

Chris McDonald: may be thinking that. So can licensed therapists use

Vanessa Holliman: these practices? They can if they are confident in their work, and I'm going to tell you why. Last time I checked, you can get an entire master's and doctorate degree in Christian therapy.

I'm doing the same exact thing, except for the source is myself instead of someone outside of me. Because that's what I believe that spirituality is. That is what I coin holisticism. Holisticism is just one of the forms of spiritualism. And spiritualism is connecting to the self. And so hopefully therapists that listen.

So this, I would love for your ethical board to say that Carl Young did not contribute to our teachings and to our foundation. And so ethically speaking, I am using a lot of his. I also believe that using a client centered approach, which is introducing someone to tools and resources that then connect them to themselves is the most powerful thing that you can do.

And so I think that as long as the practitioner is confident in why they use the practices, there are no ethical limitations. Because. I am not pushing my practices onto my clients. I actually have currently three Christian clients who know 100 percent what my lens is. And I just don't utilize those practices with them.

Why? Because we've had the conversation and I respect their values and their beliefs. My job isn't to change. What people think and believe my job is to help people think and believe in the best way. That's going to help them live the best lives for themselves.

Chris McDonald: So if the practitioner is confident in their skills in the why, so that's the good takeaway for, for listeners, then I want to high five you on your definition.

That's amazing. I mean, really truth. Another great

Vanessa Holliman: resource. I can send this to you. For a therapist, that's not what do you have? Oh, yes. I use this a lot as well, especially like people that are beginning that aren't really

Chris McDonald: sure. And it's the Tarot activity.

Vanessa Holliman: Yeah. So it's the Tarot activity book is actually written by an LCSW and it pretty much uses symbolism.

Because that's what tarot is all about. It's all about symbolism. And again, that's also rooted in what we're taught in school. So again, I feel like we can tie almost all aspects of holistic practices, alternative medicine, all the way back. to scientific approaches.

Chris McDonald: So how would you, I guess, what advice would you say to therapists who might be interested in either starting with astrology or pagan practices?

So what would you say to them to get started?

Vanessa Holliman: Woof! I was not expecting that question. Oh, sorry. No, I'm excited. I'm excited. Yeah. I, I would say. to focus on something that they're passionate about. If you are passionate about learning about it, you're going to be passionate about then teaching that and utilizing it with your clients.

The more and more that my client base is specifically based on just using holistic practices, I am so. Lit up. I am no longer experiencing burnout and I am still seeing in my private practice 25 to 30 clients a week. And I am not experiencing burnout for the first, I've been doing this for 14 years. This is the first time that I'm not experiencing burnout because the work that I'm doing lights me up.

So much that I can continue to do it. And so if anything, if you are a therapist that's experiencing burnout, you got to figure out what it is that you're passionate about with the population that you're working for, because that should override all of the negative feelings that we get from also doing this work.

And I think what you're

Chris McDonald: saying too is being in alignment, isn't it, with your beliefs and, and using that with clients that are open to the, and it's, and it's the kind of clients you have too, I'm sure, that are open to these practices that kind of light you up too, isn't

Vanessa Holliman: it? Yeah, absolutely. And I think that, and, and I think you got also very much, like you said, back to alignment is my number one value is integrity and any of my clients.

Will validate that I show up how I'm going to percent, right? So everything that I teach my clients, I have actually tried and done myself. Yeah, that,

Chris McDonald: that was my next thing I was going to say.

Vanessa Holliman: Cause I think

Chris McDonald: it's to the core, isn't it? When you believe it personally and have these practices, I think that that really can flow to your clients as well.

So they understand that you're not just being like, here, I learned this technique. Let me just show you. I don't use it myself.

Vanessa Holliman: Yeah. Yeah. And so, uh, for me to be the tool, you have to know the tool. And so I don't teach my clients breath work because I don't utilize breath work in my practices because it's something that I struggle with.

Do I absolutely encourage my clients to look into that and do I refer them to practitioners that can do that? 100%! But Vanessa 100 percent acknowledges that breathwork didn't work for her because of her state of anticipation and therefore I had to find a different tool. Yeah,

Chris McDonald: that makes a lot of sense.

So what's the best way for listeners to find you to learn more about you?

Vanessa Holliman: Yes, absolutely. The best way is to either go to my website, which is Being holistic.com except for holistic is spelled with a W and there is a hyphen in between the L and the I, so it is being b e i n g. W H O L hyphen I S T I C.

com or to watch me live in my journey because my number one value is integrity. And so I show up authentically. And so I allow my clients into my personal world. through my professional page, um, on my Instagram, which is the same exact as my website, being holistic. And that'll

Chris McDonald: be on the show notes for listeners to access as well.

We'll also have, and I know that's Drea Bloom's book. I did go to her training on Tarot too, which is absolutely amazing. I'll also put links to her and see if we can get a training in there too, that you can access. Cause if you haven't gone to one of Drea's trainings, I highly recommend just so

Vanessa Holliman: phenomenal.

I'm going to her retreat. So I'm very excited.

Chris McDonald: Yay. Awesome. Well, thank you so much for coming on the podcast, Vanessa. This was wonderful.

Vanessa Holliman: This was a blast. Thank you

Chris McDonald: so much. And listeners, thank you for tuning in today. Remember to tune in next Wednesday for another episode. And have you been wanting to integrate breathwork?

Speaking of breathwork. into sessions, but are unsure how. Are you needing to earn more continue education credits? Shifting from traditional talk therapy to using more holistic modalities can bring some feelings of uncertainty and fear. And I want to let you know that I've been there too, but I'm here to tell you that breathwork and teaching it to clients is within your scope of practice.

In my many years of experience and training, I have found breathwork to be one of the most powerful holistic modalities you can use. And now I'm offering a recorded training for you to watch on your own schedule so you can be prepared to facilitate breathwork with your clients safely and ethically. So join me on this remarkable journey as we delve into breathwork techniques.

You'll earn 1. 5 credit hours by completing this course. Go to hcpodcast. org forward slash breathwork. course. And once again, this is Chris McDonald sending each one of you much light and love till next time. Take care. Thanks for listening. The information in this podcast is for general educational purposes only, and it is given with the understanding that neither the host, the publisher, or the guests are giving legal financial counseling or any other kind of professional advice.

If you need a professional, please find the right one for you. The Holistic Counseling Podcast is proudly part of the SiteCraft Network.

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The Art of Breath:  How to Integrate Breathwork Techniques for Effective Therapy Sessions 

Have you been wanting to integrate breathwork into your sessions but are unsure how?   Or maybe you want to refine your technique? Join me on a remarkable journey as we delve into breathwork techniques and how to integrate them safely and ethically into sessions. 

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Self-Care for the Counselor - a holistic guide for helping professionals by Christine McDonald , MS,NCC,LPCS