Over the last few years, the phrase “Safe Space” has been popularised in spiritual circles as well as the term “Trauma-Informed practitioner”. This is good in many ways because it shows that practitioners are taking their impact on clients seriously. But what does this actually mean, and why should we care?
Terms such as “Safe Space” and “Trauma-Informed practitioner” have, to a certain extent, become corrupted because of our fast culture. It can take years of experience to hold a space safely, and it is not something to take on lightly. There are many aspects to practising as a healer, and it is important to become adept at the foundations before setting up formally. I’m not saying that you cannot learn much from a weekend course, but holding a safe space for someone else’s healing journey requires respect, knowledge and experience. The practitioner also needs to feel confident in what they are offering.
In this post, I would like to lay out some of my guidelines and hopefully highlight areas that new practitioners can work on. This isn’t an all-encompassing guide but simply an outline of aspects that I feel are important.
It seems to be a pivotal time to share these thoughts because I have noticed that many more people are becoming Spiritual Space Holders; ergo, we must take space-holding seriously.
Examples of a Spiritual Space Holder could be a psychic, tarot reader, energy/reiki/vortex/quantum healer, sound therapist, yoga teacher, aromatherapist, shaman or massage therapist.
I think it is brilliant that many more people are pursuing a spiritual path. It shows a growing awareness of our spiritual existence. However, this work does not come without its challenges.
Many new practitioners are taking on paying clients with very little training or experience. We should always take responsibility for creating safe spaces regardless of whether someone is paying or not, because the responsibility increases when money is exchanged.
Many people who come to spiritual sessions are vulnerable and have unresolved trauma, which can come up quickly in a healing session. Therefore, an essential part of the training to become a Spiritual Space Holder is knowing how to do this safely, with ethics and morals.
In this blog post, I will share my thoughts, ideas, experiences and potential principles for anyone in the spiritual community to learn from. I am far from perfect, and I’m sure I have made many mistakes in my sessions; even so, I hope that you might find some of this useful.
In essence, what is a “Safe Space”?
In a nutshell, a safe space is a place that is free from biases, judgements, criticisms, harassment and the threat of violence.
There are, of course, many more elements in what constitutes a safe space, and so I will try to include some of these other issues below as well.
When a client arrives at your session, your space, as well as your presence, should feel calming, restorative and soothing to their mind, body and spirit right from the outset. It is no good to appear flustered or rushed, or distracted and, in the same vein, the room should feel prepared and clear. After all, they are coming to you for an experience where they hope they will feel better when they leave.
As always, in order to hold a safe space for someone else, you must first start with yourself. Are you feeling safe, grounded and secure in who and what you are? That does not mean you need to be “healed” to hold space for someone else, but you must have done some work on yourself. Are you still working on yourself? Do you have a clear method for preparation, whether that be breathing, meditating and protection, as well as a sense of setting aside your own issues for the session so the work on others can begin?
Holding space for other people’s healing journey is a tremendous responsibility because they will place their trust in you, and what you say or do and act will have an impact on them too. So if you are unknowingly biased or projecting onto your client, that will not create a safe space for them. You must leave your biases, judgements and criticisms at the door. This is their space and not yours.
There is also room for making mistakes. We are always learning, and even experienced space holders will make mistakes, which is acceptable as long as we acknowledge when we make a mistake and learn from the experience.
Be adequately trained
As I mentioned in the introduction: many people are taking on paying clients with little training and experience. Before you begin to take on paying clients, you need to have adequate training and experience. I sat in a psychic circle for five years before taking on paying clients.
Even if you woke up one morning, suddenly communing with spirits and feeling very aware of your psychic abilities, it does not necessarily make you ready to hold space for other people straight away.
You are, of course, allowed to practice to gain experience, but charging a fee changes the dynamic and the responsibility that sits on your shoulders.
Certified training could look like a course in coaching, mental health first aid, trauma, energy healing and psychology in general.
How long a training programme should last is difficult to say. But you will notice that the best training lasts over at least 3 months to a year.
In addition, practitioners should, when they can, reference where their ideas and practices come from to honour their origins.
I would also highly recommend reading books on psychology and trauma.
Authors to explore and reading list:
The Body Keeps the Score
Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers
The Promise That Changes Everything
From the Core
Set Boundaries, Find Peace
Have life experience
It almost feels wrong saying this, but life experience is essential.
A twenty-year-old will not necessarily understand what a forty-year-old is going through. That does not mean a younger person cannot hold space for healing older people, but there will be limitations, and it is essential to acknowledge that life experience is necessary.
Life experience will also inform you on how to communicate a message well. Tact, empathy and diplomacy are key. For example, if you are a psychic and a challenging message comes through, you will need to consider how to share that with your client in a kind and empowering way that is not harmful to them. This can require careful thought.
Know your limitations
Knowing our limits is instrumental. Take, for example, a healer: there are many areas you cannot work on and will have no effect. Most of the time, what we do is meant to be complimentary, and that is all. Medical professionals are on this earth for a reason, just like ourselves. We can give our clients calm, reassurance and an in-depth spiritual understanding of what they are going through, but not necessarily “a cure” for their illness. Spiritual/Psychic/Energy healing 99% of the time cannot heal broken bones or cure cancer.
It could also be that a client does not resonate with your particular practice, which is ok. It might mean that you will need to refer them to someone else. That does not mean there is anything wrong with your practice per se; it just means that the client requires something different.
Having a supervisor or mentor
One of the most valuable assets in my life as a practitioner is having a supervisor. I feel incredibly privileged that I have access to mine. She has been a saviour in many different situations. In addition, having a supervisor is vital because we can quickly begin to carry other people’s heaviness with us, and we do not want that. The supervisor will be able to help you work through what is yours and what is theirs.
Moreover, to be emotionally available to our clients, we must also work on ourselves.
I don’t believe we can authentically help people if our head is too much in the clouds. As practitioners, we have to be grounded so that we can help our clients become grounded. I see this in so many of my clients; they lack a sense of groundedness in themselves and what they want out of life.
Some people are drawn to the airy fairy, but in the end, we need to have both of our feet planted on the ground.
We can’t always be calm, but in our sessions with clients, I think holding onto your calmness is instrumental because it will make them calm and feel safe in their bodies, mind and spirit.
This means you need to practice releasing stress in your body. This could be meditation, exercise, walking, body weight movement, somatic practices and so on.
As a Spiritual Space Holder, having a strong sense of ethics is important because otherwise, you might say or do something harmful to your clients.
For example, don’t try to sell something which isn’t true. I think it is always better to underpromise and then overdeliver.
Another important thing is to help the client to become an autonomous human being who is empowered and has a sense of agency. We do not want clients to become reliant on us.
Set up the space correctly
Be it online or in person, ensure that the space you are working in has a closed door and that no one can listen in on the conversation.
In a psychic tarot reading, I always say: ‘Anything I say today is only advice and guidance; the future is not set in stone, and you must make your own choices. Please do not make any life-altering decisions as you leave today. Let it sit with you for a while.
Body language and facial expressions
Ensure that your body language is open and your facial expressions are soft.
Let the client know that anything in this session is confidential.
Don’t set yourself up as the “saviour”
Many Spiritual Space Holders set themselves up as the saviour, making the client reliant on them. That is the opposite of what we want because, in the end, the only person who can heal themselves spiritually is the client themselves.
We are there to hold the space for the healing to occur, and that is it.
Holding a safe space is not easy, and it takes a lot of practice and experience. It can be exhausting, so it is important to pace yourself. Even so, that does not mean that you can’t begin to start holding space for other people without charging a fee. I think that it is important to have strong foundations, guidance, experience and supervision, and this provides the practitioner with the right supportive framework as well.