What happened when I spent over £20,000 on ‘woo-woo’ therapies

Kate Ruby, crime novelist – Clara Molden

There is no 12-step program for addiction therapy, but if there was, I’m sure I’d be on the front line. After all, there isn’t a group I won’t join or a healing technique I won’t try. Although I like to sit on a couch and talk to a traditional mental health professional (laying on a couch is for hardcore Freudians only), I want to go further, by any means necessary. .

Past Life Regression, hypnosis, mediums and psychedelics – these are just a few of the unusual, and sometimes downright crazy, approaches I’ve tried over the past 20 years. Some have been wonderful, some not so much (I still shudder at the memory of the Hollywood tarot reader who led me out of her caravan of gypsies onto a busy road while I was still crying at the thought of ‘have the tower in the “love” section of my spread). But overall, I’d rather have the ideas they gave me than the posh vacation or new-season bling I sacrificed for them. And the sacrifice is real: I think I’ve spent over £20,000 on the therapeutic mad dash I’ve been on.

My journey down the rabbit hole began with the loss of my father in his mid-twenties. He was only 48 when he died, after a short battle with cancer that left me very little time to mend a relationship that had been broken for many years. He had left my mother when I was little and I had craved his love and attention with a feverish need, but it was always in short supply. When he passed away, I had already had traditional talk therapy, but I was grieving and desperately looking for comfort, strange as it was.

I started getting into the more woo-woo areas during the last weeks of my dad’s life. In New York on a work trip, I impulsively visited a sidewalk psychic who looked distinctly like Morticia Addams, who waved me into a small dark room, leaving her teenage son still looking for business on the street. Here she held my hand, looked deep into my eyes, and told me gravely in her heavy Queens accent that she had seen “hospitalization but not death.” Obviously wrong, as it turned out; but its intensity was both frightening and somehow hypnotic.

I knew, of course, that she was a charlatan, but I was left with an intense desire to go beyond the material reality of the tragedy and understand the bigger “why”. This led me to a process that some swear by: family constellations. He acknowledges that trauma can be passed on from generation to generation – undeniably true – and suggests that by working through the trauma with other group members, you can move blocked energy from your lineage and heal.

Therapy Kate Ruby - Clara Molden

Therapy Kate Ruby – Clara Molden

Soon I was in a large room with a group of traumatized strangers, waiting for my turn. In fact, it was not my father who came, it was my grandmother. I then watched a woman I had never met fall to her knees, convinced that she was reliving a tragic loss that had happened to her in the 1950s.

Some people derive great benefit from this process, but it was too weird, even for me: the potential for fantasy was too high; the charged and feverish atmosphere. It didn’t cure me of my habit, however. I always wanted to go back in time and somehow move the tectonic plates, like I was in a particularly emotionally charged episode of Doctor Who. So I decided to try past life regression.

The process posits that often the people we had a painful relationship with in this lifetime played a different role in one of our previous incarnations that is still playing out. Cut to me being driven into a trance by a handsome, vivacious German therapist who swore by the practice. It was intense: tears streamed down my face as I saw myself in an earlier time, the therapist convinced that the man I loved and lost in this strange vision represented an earlier version of my fatherly relationship. troubled.

Again, a bit too much there, but there were plenty of other things I tried that were worth every penny. There was the Hoffman process: a week-long therapeutic boot camp that focuses on how damaged attachment patterns that set in in childhood will continue to plague us in adult life. Its celebrity fanbase includes singer Justin Bieber and actress Sienna Miller, but it’s more than a fashionable psychological band-aid. The work I did there was profound and made it possible to tame the unbridled anguish that has always tormented me.

I have also found incredibly helpful physical therapies to deal with this same issue. I consulted an acupuncturist Ross Barr for years now – although his waiting list has exploded since he was revealed, he is also in Meghan Markle’s little black book. Her well-placed needles make me feel like a human pincushion, but the calm and inner peace I feel when floating out of her treatment room is always worth it.

Justin Bieber Reportedly a Fan of The Hoffman Process: A Week-long Therapeutic Boot Camp That Focuses on Damaged Attachment - WireImage

Justin Bieber Reportedly a Fan of The Hoffman Process: A Week-long Therapeutic Boot Camp That Focuses on Damaged Attachment – WireImage

My latest foray into the far reaches of healing was a guided magic mushroom journey facilitated by an amazing therapist called Sarah Tilley. The burgeoning field of psychedelic therapy has shown impressive results: a 2021 study from Imperial College London found that psilocybin, the active compound in mushrooms, was at least as effective as a leading antidepressant when used in a clinical setting. So I took a nervous flight to the Netherlands (magic mushrooms remain illegal in the UK) and was soon in retreat, swallowing the fetid, brackish medicine.

We had done a number of breakout sessions beforehand, so Sarah knew the issues I wanted to cure and she encouraged me to let the mushrooms work their magic. I donned headphones and an eye mask, leaving behind the curated playlist she provided me as the intense visions and images began.

The idea is that in your altered state you have the chance to see beyond the usual negative thought patterns that cause depression and anxiety, and I certainly felt I had a new perspective as my brain danced through different areas, the music pulsing through my body. It wasn’t a quick fix, but I felt both lighter and more emotionally open afterwards. The mushrooms can supposedly rewire neural pathways in the brain, and there’s no doubt that I felt a profound effect.

It was a journey, in every sense of the word: I suddenly knew it was time to get off the therapeutic ride and put my search for the next cure on hold.

There is always a danger that self-healing can tip over into a lack of self-acceptance, so that the cure almost becomes the poison. It’s a theme I explore in my new book, Tell Me Your Lies, in which a dysfunctional family falls under the spell of a charismatic healer, losing all sight of the truth.

For now, my own therapy addiction is under control, but I’m sure with one look at Goop’s latest recommendation, I won’t be able to resist.

Kate Ruby’s psychological thriller Tell Me Your Lies (Simon & Schuster, £8.99) is out now. Order your copy from the telegraph library