As we navigate the complexities of life, it’s not uncommon to experience a range of emotions and mental health challenges. That’s where licensed professional counselors like Jaclyn Hoffman come in – providing guidance, support, and compassionate care to those in need. With a wealth of experience in the field, Jaclyn has helped countless individuals overcome anxiety, depression, relationship issues, and much more. In this Mystic Mag‘s interview, we’ll delve into Jaclyn’s insights and expertise as a licensed professional counselor, exploring her approaches to therapy, her perspectives on mental health, and her dedication to helping others achieve greater well-being and fulfillment in their lives.
When did you discover your spiritual side and develop to start helping people?
I would say I dabbled into spiritual ideas in my childhood but the spiritual side opened up to me prior to the untimely passing of my husband, Alex, in 2019. Interestingly, a few months prior, I had encountered a client I was counseling who had experienced a NDE which piqued my interest in learning more about the afterlife as well. I was moved from hearing her experience and at the same time, I had been questioning life’s purpose and if there really was such a thing as a higher power, a God, or anything beyond this so-called human life.
I entered the dark night of the soul when my husband passed unexpectedly in October 2019. The loss was heart wrenching to say the least, but the experiences following brought me closer to connecting with the spiritual side. My friend had visited a medium weeks following Alex’s death and she provided me a clip from her session which had him coming through in her reading. I was fascinated by what I heard and that I simply had to meet this medium for myself and my experience with her opened my eyes to truly believing that our loved ones walk beside us every single day. Signs were all around me from finding coins, having unexplainable experiences with videos I would post on social media, watching our dog exhibit bizarre behaviors and responding to what could not be deciphered with the naked eye in our home. I began seeing shamans, reiki practitioners, psychic mediums, and other talented intuitives which continued to fill my spiritual cup.
I became a Reiki practitioner myself and I do my best to devote time to meditation, learning breath work, and exploring yoga. This spiritual connection has opened up for me in so many ways and has helped with my grieving heart. I am now learning mediumship as a means to help strengthen my connection with my beloved husband and to help others discover that they can connect with their spiritual side that calls to them as well. I found that connecting with my spiritual side has allowed for me to be my authentic self and has allowed me to connect with others both personally and professionally.
Can you present ShoreAwakenings to our audience?
Shore Awakenings is my clinical practice in Ship Bottom, NJ. I am a licensed mental health counselor and I offer individual counseling, groups, and workshops. My practice integrates holistic and alternative practices including EFT (tapping), Heartmath, and other energy psychology approaches. I also offer Reiki and I am QHHT trained.
My specialties include griefwork, trauma, anxiety, and depression. I offer workshops for EFT and SoulCollage. I hold a free monthly widows group called Mending Hearts for women in the local community. My workshops are still evolving and I am excited to offer more topics that are of both of spiritual and clinical nature. You can learn more about my practice and what I have to offer at www.shore-awakenings.com.
You offer a wide array of therapeutic styles, including HeartMath. Can you explain how you combine them or choose the right tool for the right person?
I often approach my clients with the notion that there is no “one size fits all” when it comes to counseling. We are all on our own journeys for wellness. Even though my therapeutic styles have many similarities, I consider what my clients’ needs are when considering a specific intervention. From the Complementary and Alternative Medicine perspective, I typically explore my client’s self-care early on in our time together. We look at lifestyle habits including sleep, nutrition, and day-to-day activities. I encourage collaborating with experts in various areas of wellness to support the individual and what would be his/her presenting needs. It has been my experience that many clients feel that they get a rather quick response from EFT or tapping when I introduce it to them for the first time.
I also introduce Heartmath, a technique that focuses on the heart rhythm coherence for emotional balance. The therapeutic tools I use in my sessions go hand in hand with one another. My intention is to offer tools for my clients to take home with them. Learning the effectiveness of Heartmath and practicing the heart breathing or learning the basics of tapping are two simple tools to incorporate into one’s life outside my office.
What is SoulCollage?
SoulCollage is an intuitive process of making a series of tangible, but very meaningful cards that depict who you are from personality, archetypes, to spirit guides, and more. I view a SoulCollage deck of cards as layers of an onion for there are so many layers that make up a person. The card maker intuitively pulls images together to create a card for him/herself. I jokingly tell others that they will not look at junk mail the same. It’s the truth. You learn to appreciate images from magazines to greeting cards to junk mail.
SoulCollage, pioneered by the late Selena Frost, can be applied in so many settings for self-exploration including therapeutic settings and personal settings. I came across this spiritual tool with my good friend and colleague, Laurie, when I attended a grief workshop several years ago. Both of us became intrigued with the concept and decided to become facilitators of SoulCollage. I brought SoulCollage into my personal life, introducing it to family and friends. I also brought it into my practice and host workshops or incorporate it into individual sessions for some internal work. SoulCollage cards are used for personal readings on guidance and answering life’s questions. It is a powerful tool encouraging you to honor every part of yourself, both the parts you love and the parts you have trouble loving. You can learn so much about yourself using SoulCollage.
It’s very interesting how you approach grief. In your view, what are our main misconceptions about that emotion?
This question is quite thought provoking to me. Although I have provided grief counseling in the past with my clients, I felt I rolled with more of a textbook approach until losing my husband. Although I have shaken hands with grief before from losses of other loved ones in my life, I am now holding hands with grief after Alex’s passing. I understand that my views and experiences may not be well received by some individuals. I am aware that I am on my own journey when it comes to dealing with grief and healing myself. I will say that again, not just for me, but all of us are on our own journeys with grief.
I am 3.5 years out and since that time, I have not only observed, but experienced various perspectives of grief. A major misconception about grief is that it eventually dissipates and you move on. I have discovered that while grief does change over time it is still there and will always be a part of my life. Yes, I can smile again and feel happy or at peace, but all of those positive emotions coexist with grief and always will.
Here are some thoughts I have regarding death and misconceptions others have:
- Talking about death does not necessarily mean that the person is depressed or has a morbid view on life. Our culture seems to put a small window of time allowing the grieving to openly talk about it. Our culture views talking about death as an infectious disease or aligns it with depression or maybe suicidality, but that is not always the case. If we know that death is a part of life, why can’t we openly talk about it?
- Silence and presence is golden. When spending time with a grieving person, trying to find the right words to say can be difficult and with that, there may be avoidance to reach out to the person. Simply being present and holding space with that person will speak volumes more than you’ll ever know.
- The grieving have to let go and move on. Reminiscing about a loved one who has passed on helps the griever heal and process what has happened in their life. It also helps them see that their loved one is still remembered and very much a part of the living when shared in conversation with others. I have had people tell me things about my late husband which makes me smile one moment and then cry the next. It isn’t meant to make the person feel bad when I cry. I like to think of it as cleansing my heart and more so that I am appreciative of them remembering him. Yes, there is a balance to reminiscing and being stuck in the past, but I feel that can also be subjective too especially when it is early on in the loss. If you see that someone appears to be struggling with grief and it is affecting their ability to function daily or to care for their children, for example, or unhealthy coping skills develop then encouraging them to align with someone like a grief counselor or other professional may be an opportunity of exploration.
- Grief is so complex. There could be layers upon layers here. Its complexity may be the byproduct of the health of the relationship. It can include familial strain because of perceived entitlements of finances and dividing up the deceased’s belongings. It can be the result of loss too. Was this unexpected or was the individual ill for some time? It is absolutely future-oriented and retriggering too. For example, my husband would be approaching retirement near this time in his life and as I see his colleagues moving on to their retirement, I can’t help but revisit the feeling of loss and it feels as though the wound reopened. My children have yet to reach significant milestones in their lives, high school graduations, possibly get married, obtain homes or their own, and grow their own families. Their children or partners will never meet their grandfather or father-in-law. Another thing about complexity is that we grieve who we were and roles we played before and after losing our loved ones.
- Experiencing grief is not just emotional absence but physical. I can’t tell you how many times I anticipated him (and sometimes still) just walking through that front door again. Many relate it to our loved ones being away on a long trip.
- As I pointed out that our loved one’s absence is difficult to endure, I also believe that their presence remains. Google “Ask a Physicist to Speak at Your Funeral,” or something of the like, and you’ll read about how we are all energy and energy simply cannot be destroyed.
- Grief isn’t just about the loss of our loved ones on this earthly side. It relates to changes in relationships from separation or divorce too.
- From my spiritual point of view, I believe I will see Alex again as well as my other loved ones. I believe in receiving signs from Alex as well as my other family members and friends. I believe that going through grief is one of the hardest things to endure as a human being, but with it can come some significant soul growth and opportunities to truly discover your core of being a human being. Believe in those visitations when they come to you in dreams. Believe in those signs that they send telling you they are still by your side and very much loved.
- To my fellow grievers, there is more support out there than you realize. Whether it is a support group, counseling, aligning with your faith if that applies to you, reading books specialized in grief and loss, or stepping into areas you might not expect (for me it was yoga, Reiki and aligning with mediums or lightworkers to help me heal), there are tools available to you to help you along on your journey.
Do you have a special message to our audience in these challenging times?
Indeed we are in challenging times and with that I feel that there are opportunities to do some self-exploration and really connect with the important things in this world. Being with those we love, living more presently, taking care of ourselves (mind, body, and soul) and connecting with our beautiful home, Earth. We know things can change in a blink of an eye and that is obvious over the past few years. Developing gratitude for what you have not only puts things into perspective, it may get you off the hamster wheel of perpetual stress served by social media and other useless propaganda. We are all here learning our life lessons in this school called Earth. Being kind to one another and kinder to ourselves” is part of the curriculum. You do the best you can each day as a human being and give yourself grace in those trying times.