Peer-Led Spiritual Experience Support Training: My Journey to ACISTE
Elizabeth Sabet, PCC, ACSLC works as a Certified Professional Transformational/Spiritual Coach in private practice, is the Founder and CEO of The Institute of Transformational and Transpersonal Coaching, and the co-founder and former Executive Director of HOPE in Lubbock, Texas. Here she shares her personal story and talks about the upcoming training for ACISTE’s first peer-led spiritual experiencer support group facilitators.
My experiences began in early childhood. At the age of five I remember traveling in wormholes and having past life memories of being a rebel fighter in the American Civil War. I left my body for the first time at the age of nine. At 13, I had a spontaneous mediumship experience that was verified by a family member. Sexual trauma was a part of my childhood experience and no doubt played a part in opening me to non-linear experiences. As a child, I found most of these experiences and encounters confusing and frightening. I had no one to talk to that I could trust.
I married early and devoted myself to being a good parent. I wanted to be a good, stable parent and wife. Even though I had become accustomed to the experiences … as they arose, taking most of them in stride, my husband did not. That and the lack of fuller integration of the spiritual phenomena caused problems in my marriage. Having no safe support except for God, I asked God to make all the “weird stuff” stop.
At the age of 23, the experiences and spiritual gifts went away. I began a meditation and deep breathing practice, not realizing they would be the basis for a spontaneous and unsupported Kundalini awakening. Life would never be the same. The yearning to be of service became overwhelming. I was not satisfied or happy no matter how materially wonderful our life was. My longing to serve caused problems in the marriage as my husband was not supportive of this change in me. My new-found desire to be with God, not through death, but through a life of service and devotion to others beyond our family unit, was a disruption to our normally peaceful lives.
To preserve the marriage, I gave up all service work and slowly began to feel like I was dying. The unhealthy coping mechanisms of my teenage years returned, and I was privately falling into a life of darkness. I opted for divorce after 21 years of marriage, hoping to find redemption. Within two years of filing for divorce, I co-created with friends a community dedicated to developing authentic relationships and acceptance.
Being part of the HOPE community helped me integrate and ground the content of my experiences. I was also able to mature those still underdeveloped aspects of the self that had not been attended to in the past. Group connection and having meaningful work in an accepting community gave me the loving support and accountability I needed to process and synthesize more of my experience. If it were not for my community and support network, I certainly wouldn’t be doing the work I am doing now.
HOPE was not created specifically for spiritual experiencers but—due to the nature of the community—we certainly attracted a lot of them! As one of the community leaders with many spiritual experiences, I seemed to attract people who would privately share their own experiences with me because they knew they were safe. Eventually I become a certified coach and began working professionally with experiencers. HOPE also began offering spiritual growth support groups.
Additionally we discovered the work of Dr. Jan Holden, PhD, at the University of North Texas, and asked her to come to Lubbock to train mental health professionals on differential diagnosis and spiritual emergence phenomena. Through the connection with Dr. Holden, I met Yolaine Stout of ACISTE. Yolaine offered assistance and guidance for our local conference, and later invited HOPE to sponsor the 2014 ACISTE conference. I was invited to join the board of ACISTE in 2015 and am so grateful for the opportunity to be of service!
Why Create Local Support Groups and Community Networks?
Myself and many others are living proof that the benefits of being involved in support groups are long lasting and can positively affect relationships with family, friends, and your work in the world.
Here are just a few of the benefits commonly experienced in safe and accepting groups:
- Reduced feelings of isolation
- New and more authentic friendships
- The opportunity to share things one may never have shared before
- Permission to explore meaning and purpose
- A deeper understanding of what it means to be spiritually integrated
- Increased capacity to be more grounded, focused, and purposeful
ACISTE is dedicated to creating and facilitating the development of experiencer support groups. Our well-researched Peer Facilitator Support Group Training Manual will provide you with all the information you need to create your own group. Later this summer we will be providing low cost, online training for peer support group facilitators.
To ensure our ACISTE facilitators have the support and encouragement they need, we will also offer free monthly Support Group Facilitator Meetings via phone conferencing after the training. Staying connected with other facilitators allows everyone to learn from each other and troubleshoot any issues that may arise in the support groups. If you are interested in learning more about the training, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It is a pleasure to begin to serve a more expanded community of spiritual experiencers through ACISTE. I look forward to connecting with you and your community soon!