I Am You, You Are Me: The Interrelatedness of Self, Spirituality, and the Natural World in Childhood

by Colette Segalla

Greensboro, NC: CEINW, 2015

In I am You, You are Me: The Interrelatedness of Self, Spirituality and the Natural World, Dr. Colette Segalla addresses the question of how spirituality affects a child's development of a sense of self and considers the role of the natural world in this process. She uses a traditional hermeneutic method in combination with alchemical hermeneutics in order to make room for the unconscious during the research process. The study is therefore both an examination of the interrelationships between self, spirituality, and the natural world, as well as a depiction of the author's use of self and the unconscious to penetrate the deeper dimensions of these interrelationships. Three main bodies of literature are reviewed for the study: children's spirituality, sense of self development, and the human-nature connection. In addition, Segalla made use of a logbook for the duration of the study to record dreams, symptoms, reveries, synchronicities, and the transference dialogues. These contributions from the unconscious are integrated with findings from the literature to articulate a new theoretical perspective on the child's development of a sense of self. The spiritual life of the child is nurtured in communion with the natural world and the child's sense of self is directly impacted by both the relationship with the natural world and her spiritual nature. The child's development of a spiritual sense of self in relationship with the natural world contributes to the reparation of the dissociation between human beings and the earth. The implications of this study for depth psychotherapy suggest that it is in our utmost interest to allow children opportunity to develop a sense of spiritual self in relationship with the earth. Both children and adults need opportunities to connect with the natural world in order for the spiritual self to emerge in the direction of human-earth unity. This study further implies that, in alchemical hermeneutics, depth psychology has an effective and reliable method of conducting research with the explicit participation of the unconscious in the research process.

Colette Segalla holds a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Pacifica Graduate Institute in California and is a practicing therapist in Raleigh, NC. Before returning to graduate school, Colette was an AMI certified Montessori teacher in a lower elementary classroom of six-to-nine year old children. The works of Rudolf Steiner and Maria Montessori have contributed to her Jungian-based exploration of children's spirituality and how a relationship with the natural world contributes to the child's spiritual development.