Mental breakdown, in the form of “bipolar” or “psychotic” episodes, may often be experienced as having aspects of “breakthrough.” Even amidst severe distress and disruption, attempts at deep healing may be detected. Many avoid discussing this for fear of “romanticizing” disturbed states, but such reluctance can lead to “awfulizing” experiences instead and can impair engagement in treatment and reduce its effectiveness.

Research suggests that in the US, approximately 25-39% of people diagnosed with schizophrenia and 15-22% of those diagnosed with mania/bipolar disorder have beliefs that mental health professionals call “religious delusions.” But when people are told that their experiences and beliefs have no value and are simply due to an illness, they tend to either fight back and defend their perspectives in a rigid way, or they shift to attempting complete suppression of what they now see as their “sick” perspectives and experience. Unfortunately, neither of these two reactions have been found likely to lead to lead to recovery.

If reality, and our brains, were simple, then simplistic approaches to mental health would probably succeed more frequently.

This course is designed for people who are open to considering more complex possibilities. What if it’s often not possible to clearly distinguish dangerous and unhelpful states of mind from states that may be spiritually significant and helpful, or part of an attempt to heal from past traumas? Is there a way to approach these questions in a less black and white way, helping people to find their own answers, and/or ways of living with questions that don’t seem to have answers? Might that work better than trying to impose dominant cultural viewpoints and ways of being organized, which themselves may be flawed?

Whatever your spiritual perspective may be, or even if you see yourself as definitely non-spiritual, you can learn to acknowledge that there are deep questions about human existence that are often seen as spiritual, and to recognize the ways mental and emotional crisis often involves confusion around these questions. Then, with that awareness in mind, you can learn how to support people to possibly find their own way to shift from distress and confusion to deep healing and integration.

The course will take 6 hours to complete.

6 hours of continuing education credit is available for psychologists and nurses in the US, and also for social workers, licensed professional counselors and marriage and family therapists in many states in the US. (See the “What am I going to get from taking this course” section for details on CE credit.)

Ron Unger LCSW and Commonwealth Educational Seminars (CES) seek to ensure equitable treatment of every person and to make every attempt to resolve grievances in a fair manner. Please submit a written grievance to: Ron Unger, 4ronunger@gmail.com Grievances will receive, to the best of our ability, corrective action in order to prevent further problems.

Who this course is for:
  • This course will primarily be of interest to mental health workers of various professions who work with people who have the kind of issues typically labeled as psychotic or bipolar disorders.
  • This course may also be of interest to people with lived experience of difficult mental states, and to family members and others who would like to better understand how spiritual issues intersect with mental health problems as well as better ways to talk about the issues that arise at that intersection.

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