Interspiritual Minister Counsels with Judgement-free Love and SupportJun 30, 2021 02:47PM ● By Sheila Julson
Since childhood, interspiritual minister Sue Stangeland, of Connecting Mind and Body, understood how our equine friends can help us heal. She grew up in an alcoholic family, and while seeking love and support beyond her home, she became drawn to horses. She took riding lessons and leased horses, and her parents eventually purchased a horse for her.
“I was an intuitive, sensitive child,” Stangeland says. “Horses are large and strong, but they hold such gentleness and natural spiritual love.” Working with horses would instill in her a lifelong passion toward spiritual healing not just for herself, but to also help others balance emotional, mental and physical wellness through spiritual counseling.
Stangeland studied Equestrian Education in college. Throughout most of her adulthood, she managed and later owned a horse boarding facility. Eight years ago, an illness forced her to sell her horse farm and business because she could no longer perform the physical work. Having to give up a business that meant so much to her sent Stangeland on a physical and spiritual healing journey. She began volunteering at a small rural church, taking on duties such as attending meetings, arranging schedules and running the church’s thrift store.
“When I was in a role of volunteering or giving to the community, it made me feel whole and alive. It gave me such energy to be a part of something that helps others,” she says. “I just felt a calling to go into ministry.”
Stangeland enrolled in One Spirit Ministry’s four-year program, during which she spent two years in seminary, studying world religions. She also received spiritual counseling and, under supervision, administered spiritual counseling to others.
“It was deep dive into my own habits and spiritual practices,” she relates. “I really learned about myself.” Stangeland completed the program in 2020. This year, she formed her counseling practice, Connecting Mind and Body.
Interspirituality Embraces All Religions and Spiritual Traditions
People seek spiritual counseling to heal from a traumatic event, for grief support, to find inner peace, to soothe feelings of confusion, anxiousness or emptiness, and for officiant services. As an interspiritual minister, Stangeland has studied most of the world’s religions. “An interspiritual minister has a basic knowledge of many religions. Regardless of one’s faith, I speak with them and understand their belief systems,” she explains.
Stangeland also understands that her clients define spiritual wellness in different ways that may or may not relate to a religious belief. She’ll begin sessions by talking about consciousness, nature or love. “Spiritual counseling goes into many ways of connecting with the divine,” she notes.
Through incorporating spiritual practices such as breathing, meditation or exercise, Stangeland helps each client land in his or her space. “If somebody had a busy day, they’re unbalanced and stuck in their minds and thoughts. I want to help them feel relaxed, grounded and centered so we can do deeper work during the session. Whatever is coming up for that person for that day, we start with what they would like to talk about and go from there.”
Stangeland reiterates how stressful the COVID-19 pandemic has been on most people. “There has been a lot of anxiety, loss and a fear of what’s next. What I’m trying to help people with is grounding; I formed Connecting Mind and Body because there are a lot of people who stay in their minds and thoughts, always thinking, planning and stressing. Because of that, they left their hearts behind.”
Recognizing that each person can be in different places in life and hold different experiences, Stangeland focuses on providing support and listening without judgement. “There is no ‘you should do this, or you should do that,’ in spiritual counseling. It’s about holding space and being supportive of the individual and what they’re going through at the time.”
Spiritual counseling is all about offering support and love—that same support and love Stangeland received from horses throughout her life. “Even though horses don’t speak, that have that language of love and caring. It’s really the same energy of caring, love and support that I provide to clients,” Stangeland concludes. “There are no quick fixes to any problems, but to provide support in a loving way and championing those that are in need of somebody to listen.”
Stangeland provides spiritual counseling in person, by phone or virtually.
Sue Stangeland of Connecting Mind and Body can be reached at 272-200-2465 or visit connectingmindandbody.org.