Holistic Psychiatrist Judy Tsafrir left me starstruck, as I had an amazing time interviewing her. Judy Tsafrir is a holistic healer, activist, artist and gardener with a private practice of holistic psychiatry. She wrote Sacred Psychiatry: Bridging the Personal and Transpersonal to Transform Health and Consciousness,  a book that provides insight into her journey in Holistic Psychiatry.

Development of the book

Kyle: How did you come up with your book’s structure?

Author Judy Suzanne Reis Tsafrir, MD

Judy: I originally had the chapters arranged in a different order. The developmental editor with whom I worked suggested that the chapter about developing a spiritual practice was the heart of the book and should come closer to the beginning. I thought she was right because I have been working on this book for more than ten years, and some of the pieces of the book have been written as previous drafts, contributions to other books, and blog posts. I included those pieces that seemed most relevant to my practice today and what I think is most important.

Writing Process

Kyle: What’s your writing process like? Did you use any of the tools you present in the book to support your writing journey?

Judy: Definitely. I always asked for the support of the spirits and ancestors before I sat down to write, often using my drum and rattle. Adding onto that, I would pray and offer thanks for inspiration and guidance. Finally, I used oracle cards for guidance and would place beloved crystals and special objects on my writing table.

My writing table was like an altar. The writing of the book was a spiritual practice. I had a great deal of resistance to writing the book because of self-doubt and procrastination. I had a travel schedule that would have kept me from truly focusing and completing the project.

In September of 2022, I missed a step, fell, and broke bones in my left foot, which necessitated surgery and a recommendation to be non-weight-bearing for two months. I was only able to leave the house with assistance and thus was essentially housebound for two months. This event resulted in me having the requisite concentration to finish the project. I believe that the Universe wanted me to complete the book, and it seems like it was, unfortunately, necessary to break my foot to make that happen promptly!

Inspirations and roles for writing

Kyle: What role did astrology play in your writing and publishing process?

Judy: I felt buoyed by the knowledge of what was going on astrologically in my chart in terms of the cosmic support at this moment for bringing this book into the world. It was Divine timing for it to be created and published now. That awareness helped my confidence. My favorite chapter of the book is the chapter where I described the astrology of my children. It is the chapter I enjoyed writing the most and am most proud of. It combines my skills as a psychoanalyst and an astrologer. The book’s context is the times we live through from an astrological perspective. Astrology very much informs the lens from which to view the book’s content.

Kyle: What was the initial inspiration for writing and publishing Sacred Psychiatry?

 Judy:  I have been practicing as a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst for over 35 years. My practice has changed as I have grown and developed personally and spiritually. My approach is far more holistic now. It is more effective and particularly needed at this time of transformation on our planet. I wanted to share what I have learned as I think it will be helpful.

How the title came to be

Kyle: The title Sacred Psychiatry is unique and a term I’d not heard before. Did you coin that term? Can you share what Sacred Psychiatry is and how you created that title?

Copies of Sacred Psychiatry

 Judy:  I originally wanted to title the book “Chironic Psychiatry.” Chiron was a figure in Greek mythology who was a holistic healer and who synthesized bridged worlds. He was born a centaur (half horse and half man), and an asteroid was named after him in 1977. Chiron’s orbit travels between Saturn and Uranus. Saturn is the last planet visible to the naked eye, the most distant planet known to ancient astronomers/astrologers. Uranus was only discovered in 1781 with the advent of the telescope. Thus, Chiron bridges the seen and unseen worlds.

I bridge conventional psychiatry with a more holistic spiritual approach in my book. The heart of the book is a chapter entitled “Developing a Multidimensional Sense of the Self,” which describes how to develop a sense of oneself as more than the physical body and the personality self. It recommends practices that develop our sense of Oneness and interconnection with all that is and how to connect with the spiritual and soulful aspect of the self.

My publisher thought that most people were unfamiliar with the myth of Chiron and would perhaps think that the word was misspelled and read it as “Chronic” instead of Chironic. Sacred Psychiatry was a much more accessible title and captures what the book conveys about Sacred‘s vital role in healing. I think they gave me sound advice.

Audience

Kyle: Who did you imagine as the audience for this book? And how did your decisions about the book content and features reflect the audience? 

Nucleosynthesis Periodic Table

Judy: I imagine that the audience will be those people who are not happy with conventional psychiatry as it is typically practiced and yearn for a more holistic, whole-person, and soulful approach to their suffering than the usual symptom suppression with pharmaceuticals. I imagine the audience to be those who long to have a sense of spiritual connection in their lives but have no idea how to create it.

I imagine an audience who is curious about nutrition’s role in mental health and naive to the art of astrology and how it can be useful but is curious and open. Moreover, I imagine an audience of those who suffer from chronic complex medical illnesses and who are often referred to psychiatrists who have little to offer besides pharmaceuticals. The book offers alternative approaches. 

Kyle: Do you see this book as a tool that psychologists unfamiliar with astrology might be inspired to incorporate in their work?

Judy: It could inspire those who are open to feel curious and perhaps motivate them to seek astrology training. I would not describe the book as a tool to learn astrology but rather as an introduction to an esoteric practice that is invaluable and with which they may be unfamiliar.

Guidance that’s received and given

Kyle: Sacred Psychiatry serves as a guide; what guidance, support, or encouragement did you call on to write this book?

Judy: As I mentioned above, I availed myself of all the spiritual tools and practices that I have; I also had an excellent developmental editor and loved the design created for the book cover by the publisher. I relied on family and friends, spiritual mentors and psychedelic medicines, and the knowledge of the way that the current astrology is affecting my birth chart. 

 Kyle: Do you have any tips for authors writing a self-help or psychological book that is a bit “out of the box” and brings in teachings from other fields?

Judy: Sometimes, sharing your practices and perspectives can be scary if they are unconventional. There can be fear of judgment. It is essential to have a multidimensional support system to feel empowered to express your truth authentically.

Publishing

Kyle: Can you share a bit about your publishing journey—how did you decide upon your publisher, and is there any advice for working with a publisher?

Judy: I wanted to expedite the book’s publishing as I felt that the information was important for this time. I felt some urgency. I did not feel as though I had the leisure to write query letters to agents and wait for someone to represent me. Still, I understood that it could take more than a year and required a great deal of effort, so I decided to go the hybrid publishing route with Greenleaf Book Group. They had a good reputation, and I have been very pleased with the process of creating the book with their help and with the finished product. 

Marketing Experience

Author Judy Tsafrir at work

Author Judy Tsafrir at work

Kyle: How are you promoting Sacred Psychiatry?

Judy: I have been appearing on several holistic healing, spirituality, and astrology podcasts. I did all the work by making the connections, writing to podcasts and scheduling. I recently decided to hire a publicist to help me with this process. She represents many authors who write spiritually oriented books and has relationships with podcasts with large audiences. 

Kyle: What’s your experience with book sales? What works best or hasn’t been worthwhile in terms of promotion efforts?

Judy: My book is available in all the usual online stores such as Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and several other stores I had never heard of before. My publisher set this up for me. My book has not even been out for a month. I don’t really know what works; I understand that appearing on podcasts helps sales, and I also recently did an online presentation to members of the Massachusetts Association for Chronic Complex Medical Illnesses. That creates visibility and interest. I have a blog that I believe is helpful to make people aware of my book. I have yet to do much with social media, but I know it would be important.

Questions?

Kyle: Do you have any questions that you wish I had asked? 

Judy: The question could be, “What advice do you have for aspiring authors?” The answer would be, “Don’t give up. It’s too important if it’s something that feels deeply meaningful. Trust yourself and ask for support and guidance from both divine and human allies. Trust that the process is unfolding in divine timing. Be courageous and speak your truth. Your book will not appeal to everyone but will find its audience. It’s not your business what other people think of you. I like the quote attributed to Oscar Wilde, “Be yourself. Everybody else is already taken.”

About the Author

Judy Suzanne Reis Tsafrir, MD, is a holistic healer, activist, artist, and gardener with a private practice of holistic psychiatry, ketamine-assisted psychotherapy and psychoanalysis located in Newton, Massachusetts.

She is a board-certified adult and child psychiatrist and psychoanalyst. She is on the Harvard Medical School and the Boston Psychoanalytic Institute faculty and teaches and supervises at the Cambridge Health Alliance. Additionally, she is particularly interested in combining spiritual and developmental approaches to healing. She enjoys helping patients wean from psychiatric medications and treating complex chronic medical conditions that present psychiatrically. These conditions include mold toxicity, mast cell activation, and Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome.

Finally, she is a practitioner of a variety of energy healing and esoteric modalities, including astrology, tarot, shamanism, body intuition, and Reiki. Spiritually, she is drawn to Animism, Kabbalah, Buddhism, Taoism, Wicca, and Quakerism. Her practice is dedicated to healing by integrating the heart, mind, body, soul, the biosphere, and the cosmos.

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv