Chuck Ketchel, LCSW
Transpersonal Psychotherapist, Shamanic Practitioner, Spiritual Guide
Since my earliest memories when, as a young boy, I first agonized over the existence of God, I have been on a spiritual journey. Always searching for the truth, always seeking a means to experientially penetrate the mystery of life beyond life, I have never been satisfied with belief systems or constructs I could not validate. In my earliest successful quest for proof of the divine, my young body was paralyzed and transformed into sheer energy as I frantically struggled to hold onto consciousness, fearing disintegration and death. This experience was repeated many times during my childhood, though it was not until many years later that I discovered it was known and documented in Eastern and shamanistic traditions as the human potential called, the energy body. Shamanistic traditions I have practiced, such as Tensegrity, through Carlos Castaneda, and yogic traditions, with ancient knowledge of our subtle or astral bodies, have long guided seekers in the exploration of infinity. Only in recent times, with the discoveries of quantum physics has Western science begun to truly contemplate the energetic essence of our physical beings.
In my adolescence, experimentation with drugs opened me once again to deep energetic spiritual experience, which led, at age sixteen, to my encounter with Dr. Efren Ramirez, a pioneer in existential psychology, drug treatment methods, and an explorer of human potential. In therapy, I discovered a path that fulfilled my passion for self-exploration. I started using the I Ching, and voraciously began reading C.G. Jung and Carlos Castaneda. Eventually, under Dr. Ramirez’s supervision I began treating adolescents with drug problems as a paraprofessional and later was recommended to become a trainer of drug counselors at The Training for Living Institute in New York City.
At sixteen, I also met Jeanne Marie Cassarino, a kindred spirit, initiating a thirty-year partnership of exploration in this world, and now, for many years, beyond this world since her death in 2001. Our intense commitment to our marriage as a vehicle to evolutionary growth, as well as the quest to experience infinity while still in this world reached its culmination in 1995 when we discovered Carlos Castaneda’s public offering of Tensegrity, the ancient wisdom and traditions of don Juan’s lineage in a modern format. Together we practiced Tensegrity and the exploration of our energy bodies, with increased dedication and seriousness as Jeanne prepared to transition from this life.
Jeanne and I completed grad school together, receiving our MSW’s in the early 1980s. I then underwent intense clinical training while working at the Jewish Board for Children’s Services (JBFCS), training with such greats in their fields as, Sonya Rhodes in marital treatment, Harris Peck in group treatment, Art Leader in family treatment, and Cliff Sager in sex therapy. I worked intensely with adolescents and their families, doing deep clinical work, over a three-year period. After JBFCS I went on to a brief treatment model, treating over one thousand people in New York’s Hudson Valley over a three-year period, adapting deep treatment to a brief eight-session model. By 1990, I went into full-time private practice, and within a few years discovered and became certified in EMDR-Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing.
It became obvious to me that my expertise was with trauma and dissociative states. My own energy body experiences helped me to recognize trauma as an entry point, granted unchosen, into a shamanic journey. Under the pressure of trauma a person is introduced to dissociation when they leave their body in an out-of-body experience. This dissociation ultimately requires re-association in order to heal. However, the discovery of the energy body opens the door to evolutionary growth, which can be more fully explored once a person has fully recapitulated their traumatic journey.
My journey continues as it began, searching for truth through experience, and continuing to flow with life’s changes. Clinically, I have continued my study of PTSD, dissociative states, and the experiences of the energy body in understanding and developing the process of Recapitulation Therapy. Current themes of focus are, seeking understanding of what it means to fulfill this life’s deepest needs, and exploring the art of detachment as the highest expression of love.