Main Session: Ryan Foster, PhD & Jan Holden, Ed.D.

Spontaneous Mediumship Experiences of Near-Death Experiencers


Since 1975, researchers have conducted over 65 studies involving over 2,500 near-death experiencers (NDErs) on four continents (Holden, Greyson, & James, 2009). As a result, much is now known about the circumstances, contents, and aftereffects of NDEs. In general, the more complex the NDE, the more the NDEr will subsequently evidence physical, psychological, spiritual, and social changes—often profound transformation (Noyes, Fenwick, Holden, & Christian, 2009).

As much as is known about NDE aftereffects, more remains to be understood. An apparently less-addressed aftereffect is what Holden (2013) termed spontaneous mediumship experiences (SMEs) based on her anecdotal observations. SMEs are a subset of after-death communication (ADC). What sets SMEs apart as a sub-phenomenon is that the deceased person may be more likely not to be a loved one, and the deceased person conveys to the SMEr a message he or she wishes the SMEr to convey to yet another living person—someone whom the SMEr may or may not know. In this presentation, the presenter will describe results of the first quantitative study investigating this phenomenon including implications for future research and counseling

Presenter Bios

Ryan D. Foster, PhD, LPC-S, LPC, NCC

Ryan D. Foster is assistant professor of counseling at Marymount University in Arlington, VA. Dr. Foster has specialized training in working with people who have had near-death experiences and other spiritual or transpersonal concerns. He is particularly interested in the effects of transpersonal experiences on grief and loss. Ryan is a Licensed Professional Counselor-Supervisor (LPC-S) in Texas, a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) in Virginia, and a National Certified Counselor (NCC). He has provided counseling services at his private practice, in community agencies, in elementary schools, and in college counseling centers since 2006. He has also served as director of a nonprofit community counseling agency. Ryan is assistant editor for the Journal of Near-Death Studies. He is a member of the American Counseling Association, the Virginia Counseling Association, and the Association for Counselor Education and Supervision. He is currently serving as a board member for the Association for Spiritual, Ethical, and Religious Values in Counseling.

Jan Holden, Ed.D., LPC-S, LMFT, NCC, ACMHP

Janice Miner Holden earned her Bachelor of Science degree in psychology with honors from the University of Illinois at Champaign (1972), and her master of science (1978) and doctoral (1988) degrees in Counselor Education from Northern Illinois University. In 1988, she joined the Counseling Program faculty at the University of North Texas (UNT) where she now is a professor and serves as Chair of the Department of Counseling and Higher Education. She is a Licensed Professional Counselor – Supervisor, Texas Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, National Certified Counselor, and ACISTE Certified Mental Health Professional. At UNT, Jan teaches courses in counseling theory, the transpersonal perspective in counseling, and dreamwork in counseling. Having focused her scholarship on near-death experiences, Jan is past president of the International Association for Near-Death Studies, was first editor of The Handbook of Near-Death Experiences: Thirty Year of Investigation (2009, Praeger), and is editor of the quarterly peer reviewed Journal of Near-Death Studies. The nature of human consciousness, particularly at death, and its implications for counseling and for meaning and purpose in life and death, continue to be Jan’s primary research interests.

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