For Deborah Knighton Tallarico, the process of healing goes deep: The South Portland therapist tries to reach – and hear – people at what she considers the soul level.
“I track and listen to what a person is sharing to help get to the deeper communication under their words, the communication and deeper feelings of their soul,” said 54-year-old Knighton Tallarico, a licensed clinical counselor who runs the spiritually oriented practice Temple of the Heart, and co-runs the Spiritual Renaissance Center with her husband, Leo Knighton Tallarico.
To do this, the self-described “soul psychotherapist,” “spiritual counselor” and “planetary priestess” makes use of stones, crystals, flower and gem essences, dream work and past life regression, prayer, various ceremonies, guided meditation, and sound healing (with crystal singing bowls, Tibetan bowls, chanting, drumming and rattling), in her everyday practice.
While this method certainly isn’t for everyone, her clients specifically seek her out because they’re looking for more of a spiritual connection, she said – and often less of a religious one.
In fact, many refer to themselves as “recovering Catholics,” she said, who are working to release guilt, shame and other feelings resulting from religious upbringings.
She contends that the earth is now undergoing a spiritual awakening, and that many of her clients are on a “profound spiritual journey.”
“True spirituality is loving, compassionate and forgiving,” she said – and to tap into it is empowering. “People have all the wisdom they need within them, they just need to begin listening to their inner voice and to their deeper feelings and intuitions.”
Ultimately, spirituality has always been a profound part of her life, as has helping others.
“I was always curious about God and the connection to the universe and the earth,” said Knighton Tallarico, who goes by the spiritual name “El’elia.”
She even started doing ceremonies as a child growing up in the Detroit area (one attempt was to heal a tree plagued by Dutch elm disease). “I was always operating on a deeper soul level.”
As a teenager, she worked with people with various disabilities. Then, in college, she took her first psychology class – and she knew instantly that’s what she wanted to do.
Still, after receiving her bachelor’s degree in social work from Central Michigan University in 1979, she felt like something was missing.
“The traditional psychology didn’t meet all of who a person was,” she said.
But soon, she came across something on transpersonal psychology, which approaches the human experience from a more spiritual place. It clicked. Within months, she was studying for her master’s degree in transpersonal counseling psychology in the Graduate School of Consciousness Studies at John F. Kennedy University in Orinda, Calif.
For several years after graduating, she worked in a sexual abuse treatment program. Then, in the late 1990s, she and her husband started the Spiritual Renaissance Center in Santa Fe, N.M.
In Deccember 2003, they relocated it to Maine.
They’d actually never been to the state. As she described it, they felt Santa Fe was becoming “saturated” with spiritual counselors and healers, so “we prayed, we got guided.”
And, all told, Mainers have been “very receptive,” she said.
“We felt welcomed here. We felt we could bring something that was needed.”
And more recently, she said, they’ve felt that the area is “really blossoming spiritually.”
Ultimately, as she helps people through that progression, her goal is to heal wounds from childhood and to “work beyond the personality” at the level of the soul, the deeper inner self that’s “been with us forever” and has “experienced many, many different things through many incarnations.”
Those who are suffering, she says – whether it’s from anxiety and depression, trauma, or the life transitions we all go through – need to access those deep feelings of their soul, and deal with wounds and old patterns, before they can heal.
“The core of healing is love, acceptance, compassion, and forgiveness,” she said. “I really help people forgive themselves, forgive others, have compassion for themselves, love themselves, honor who they are.”
A Closer Look
The Spiritual Renaissance Center will be hosting an open house on April 28.
Maine Women’s April 2012 Magazine Cover
Deborah Knighton Tallarico
Deborah Knighton Tallarico treats clients with crystals applied to chakras, or energy centers, on the human body, as well as the different tones and notes of crystal singing bowls in her therapy and counseling practice at the Spiritual Renaissance Center in South Portland.