Susan Menahem, LCSW ~ Retreat Assistant, Integration & Ritual Support

Susan Menahem was born into orthodox Judaism and while she hungered to deepen her spiritual knowledge, as a woman, the doors to its most sacred teachings were closed.  Dissatisfied with such limited access, she began her spiritual quest at 18 years old.  Through Buddhism, she learned the importance of mindfulness and meditation.  During that time, she studied with a Master of the I Ching where she learned to apply its ancient Chinese philosophies to everyday modern life.   Through Native American spirituality she deepened her relationship with the land and its many energies.  She has studied a variety of cultural shamanic practices and traditions, and practices many indigenous healing modalities and prayer ceremonies.  Her love of Peruvian shamanism led her to Peru, where she began her relationship with the plant medicines Ayahuasca and San Pedro.

Having a deeply embodied spiritual presence, Susan possess an innate ability to really listen to people, while at the same time making them feel safe and at ease, and she knew at a very young age that one of her soul’s purposes was to counsel.  She earned her MSW at Rutgers University in New Jersey and opened up a counseling practice.  By combining psychology with spiritual teachings, she is able to take therapy to a whole new level, from teaching mindfulness for anxiety, to incorporating sacred pipe ceremonies into couples therapy.    

 Through working with the sacred plant medicines Ayahuasca and San Pedro, she was able to truly begin healing the deep childhood wounds of not belonging and not feeling good enough.   She realized that although psychotherapy was extremely beneficial, the sacred plant medicines were able to bring healing to wounds that traditional therapy had a hard time reaching. Desiring to bring the benefits of Ayahuasca and San Pedro to people in the States, she began to organize plant medicine retreats to Peru.   Seeing the importance of being able to integrate knowledge from plant ceremonies into everyday life, she began assisting people with ceremony integration as part of her therapeutic practice.

Susan brings an eclectic spiritual base together with a comforting, safe, and grounding presence, as well as an extensive knowledge of psychotherapy and integration.  She lives in Asbury Park, New Jersey and has counseling practices in Freehold and Highland Park New Jersey.

James Wood, MA ~ Ceremony Support

In 1985, James completed his Masters Degree in Transpersonal Psychology. He completed a counseling program that brought him in contact with a wide variety of traditions, and some of the leading psychological/spiritual thinkers of that time. James was fortunate to study Holotropic Breathwork with Stan and Cristina Grof, cross-cultural symbolism and mythology with Angeles Arrien, Process Acupressure with Aminah Raheem, Sufi stories with Jim Fadiman, and Gurdjieff’s Fourth Way and Enneagram with Kathleen Speeth. He has been particularly interested in attention and has practiced Vipasana meditation for many years. As a child, James was interested in art, design and the creative process. He worked with the San Francisco Unified School District, creating a program to build self-esteem through artistic expression. For fifteen years, James worked for an architectural firm, creating a position that supported the architects in their creative process, and as a consultant to clients to help them determine exactly what they wanted. In 2006, James made his first trip to the Amazon and experienced the powerful healing qualities of the medicinal plants. After that, he returned to Peru many times to work with ayahuasca and San Pedro, and in 2013, he moved to Peru. Today, James continues working with medicinal plants, assisting in ceremonies, and seeing clients for psychotherapy and post ceremony integration. He currently lives in the Sacred Valley in Pisac.