Practitioner Profile: Dr. Laurie Pappas

Dr. Laurie Pappas describes herself as a Spiritual Psychotherapist. Her soul-searching as a young adult, her role as an educator of children, her experiences in social work and as a peace activist gradually led her to her life’s work in the field of counseling. Dr. Pappas' quest for answers and her own deep pain motivated her as well; she went on to receive an MA in Counseling and then a PhD in Metaphysics. Currently, in addition to her private practice, she is the Executive Director of the Metro Detroit Center for Attitudinal Healing.

Many years ago, Dr. Pappas was introduced to flower essences by a holistic physician and learned the value of them first personally, and then later in use with clients. She noticed almost immediately a difference in the way she felt when using flower essences. She continued to study and use them, finding that they didn’t take all the pain and difficulty away, but “took the edge off” and helped her to think more clearly about issues that she needed to address. If she discontinued using the essences for any length of time, she found every time she went back to taking them; it was “like a miracle. … even with everything I know and the work that I’ve done, flower essences are still magic for me; I feel bad, I prepare a bottle, and I feel better.”

Developing the self-reflecting process: flower essences as a bridge

At one point, after having used them herself and with friends, Dr. Pappas realized flower essence therapy would be a great adjunct to her counseling work with clients. She has discovered over time that vibrational medicine works well for people of a certain mindset or consciousness. There are degrees or levels of consciousness and some are more attuned to working with vibrational healing. For example, a person operating from the heart level, wanting to bring more love and compassion into their life, is likely to experience success with flower essences.

“One has to have an environment within their body that is open to, ready for and friendly to the essences being used.”

Additionally, she’s found that people operating out of the upper chakras seem to have more success with vibrational medicine, while it might not be as successful for those operating out of the lower “tribal” chakras. As one’s motivation and behavior moves up the chakra system, self-reflection becomes more involved as well as the readiness to take vibrational medicine into the system. “One has to have an environment within their body that is open to, ready for and friendly to the essences being used.”

Dr. Pappas is able to determine easily who would most benefit from the use of flower essences and offers them to many of her clients for whom they work especially well. She introduces flower essences by explaining: “Flower essences work on your thought system, working on another plane, which then works on the physical plane. Flower essences allow issues to come forth that need to, and are a catalyst to help move through those issues. They will help you with your thoughts, to stay on the ‘top side’ or the ‘up side’ of them rather than pull them down. Negative belief systems, compulsive thinking, feeling that one has no control over thoughts, and fear, can all stand in the way of healing. However, using flower essences can help one to make choices more easily regarding what one wants to think about; flower essences will help in the process to make better choices for one’s life in a variety of ways.”

Elaborating further, Dr. Pappas feels that “psychotherapy is an education, we’re all learning and learning lessons about how to be more loving, kind, passionate and find inner peace—and that’s what flower essences help with. Because of my experience with the attitudinal healing process, I come from a perspective which is different from the traditional approach. I just see our commonalities as human beings, knowing that we’re all on the same path.”

An alternative to chemical medication

The effects of the flower essences are often very subtle, unlike pharmaceutical drugs that tend to have more immediate, noticeable effects. Dr. Pappas carefully explains the differences between essences and medications such as tranquilizers, because clients might not know how to recognize their impact. “The essences just have a different way of working in the system. Not only is the effect different, but how one experiences them is different [than with a drug] as well.” The way one might know that essences are working would be to wake up one day realizing, “Gee, I didn’t think about that yesterday” or “I’m not worrying about that today.” Or, one might put aside a dosage bottle only to find themselves feeling miserable again.

In general, Dr. Pappas begins by offering flower essence therapy as an alternative to medications saying, “let’s see how it works, how it feels, but if you must go on to using medication, I still suggest using flower essences in conjunction with it.” She has found that clients needing antidepressants can take smaller doses by combining them with flower essence therapy. They have a calming effect especially for those with depression and anxiety: “Flower essences come to mind right away and I offer them immediately to anxious or depressed clients. They work so well, particularly if we can keep them away from medications. The essences give them something to take the edge off and think clearly.” Many people have become disillusioned with using mind altering drugs that cause side effects, and for them, Dr. Pappas has found that flower essences can be an excellent alternative.

The essences used with a client are chosen in a variety of ways. Sometimes Dr. Pappas will begin with a questionnaire, deciding which essences to take a closer look at. Other times she will turn to the "Flower Essence Repertory", researching the issues under consideration and work together with the client to decide which essences are appropriate. She often just decides intuitively which essences to use based on what she perceives the person needs at the moment.

Case studies and key remedies

Many people come to counseling when they are experiencing some type of transition, such as divorce. Dr. Pappas finds Walnut to be a good, solid essence for the therapeutic process.

Lily—transforming family trauma and despair

A young woman who’d had a difficult family background came to see Dr. Pappas for therapy. Lily was astute, knowledgeable and evolved in her thinking. She experienced extreme sensitivity and had difficulty with relationships. Lily had moments of deep despair because of her incredible deep and intense emotionality and sensitivity. She had little self-confidence and was trying to find direction in her life. Dr. Pappas gave Lily both Golden and White Yarrow for her sensitivity, and Larch (photo right) and Crab Apple for her confidence issues. She used other essences as needed, but used the above four essences on an ongoing basis. After time, Lily did well in her life and was able to develop a healthy relationship.

Ana—working through the effects of abuse and self-mutilation

Dr. Pappas worked over a period of twelve years with a woman, Ana, who was sexually and physically abused as a child by her father. She was a self-mutilator (her father had cut her and then later she cut herself), who had attempted suicide and was prescribed anti-depressant medication. Ana had problems with confidence and feelings of guilt. She felt terrified because of old thoughts and dreams. Dr. Pappas gave Ana Crab Apple, Larch (above), Pine, and Calming Essence. She also often gave her Aspen and Mimulus for her anxiety and Five-Flower Formula when she felt dire.

Ana was able to work through her abuse and terror. She went to school, got a BA in Social work, then a Masters Degree, and now works with troubled children. She speaks very differently than when she was undergoing therapy; Ana feels in control now and is sure of herself. The flower essences helped her over the years to see herself in a better light and to see the possibilities in her life.

Mary—overcoming an eating disorder

Mary felt like she had no control over food. While growing up, neither her mother nor her father had really been “present” for her. She had to “grow up fast” and took care of her siblings at a young age; it was an extremely unhealthy situation for her. Mary had been married and had two children but had gone through a horrible divorce. The issues addressed in therapy regarded feeling masterful in parenting, and providing adequate financial support for her children. She herself had never gotten the nurturing she needed as a child. But, it was necessary that she take care of her children even while she was experiencing severe emotional pain because her own needs had never been fulfilled. Mary ate to “fill herself up;” she was compulsive about food.

Dr. Pappas helped Mary to find other ways to “fill” herself. They utilized talk therapy, guided imagery, meditation, and affirmation. Together they researched all the flower essences indicated for eating disorders and found what was most appropriate for Mary. Manzanita flower essence was used to help her think differently about her situation. She was given Cherry Plum for feeling out of control in regard to eating and her thoughts. For anxiety, she used White Chestnut. Mary felt disgusted with herself and had inner shame about her eating problem, so Dr. Pappas also gave her Crab Apple essence. Today, Mary works successfully as a reflexologist, is competent and confident as a parent, and has a joyful outlook on life.

About Dr. Pappas:

Laurie Pappas, PhD works as a psychotherapist in private practice and is the Executive Director of the Metro Detroit Center for Attitudinal Healing. She directs the center’s programming and business, trains facilitators to lead personal growth groups, teaches classes and workshops, and speaks throughout the community about Attitudinal Healing and other metaphysical/spiritual subject matter. She is committed to the inspiration and growth of all those with whom she is in communication, and to the creation of cultures grounded in harmony, peace, compassion and love.


About Jann Garitty

As a Flower Essence Society staff member, Jann Garitty is involved with web design, class administration, writing, research and practitioner outreach. She has a wide variety of personal interests and commitments as a jeweler, gardener and herbalist. For over 30 years, she has worked with Native American organizations in education, arts, and cultural outreach and is the former Director of the Sierra Storytelling Festival. Jann is the mother of two grown children and lives in the Sierra Nevada foothills of northern California with her family and a menagerie of animal companions.

(Photo of Dr. Pappas courtesy of Flower Essence Society. Photo of Jann Garitty courtesy of the author. All flower photos courtesy of the Flower Essence Society. Appearing from top to bottom are: Golden Yarrow, Larch flower, White Yarrow. Reprinted with the kind permission of Jann Garitty and the Flower Essence Society. See page two for information about FES)

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Note from Satya Center Founder & Reiki Master Jane Sherry: We are often asked in our practice whether people taking psychiatric medicines can use flower essences. I referred the question to Jann Garitty of the Flower Essence Society and she referred me to their webpage which has many useful resources which address this question. The short answer is YES! Please go to their link to find many articles and resources which address the following question:

Can individuals with mental illnesses taking psychiatric or psychotropic medications also successfully use flower essences?

July 11, 2005

"We are hearing more and more from practitioners who have worked with individuals quite successfully, even resulting in some of their clients being able to reduce or eliminate the need for medications. Of key importance in all cases, it seems, is the stability of the practitioner/client relationship as various issues come to light. It is extremely important that sufficient support, emotional and otherwise, also be provided from others such as health practitioners, counselors, family members, etc. This is particularly vital during any periods of crises experienced by the client."


The Flower Essence Society

The Flower Essence Society (FES) is an international membership organization of health practitioners, researchers, students, and others interested in deepening knowledge of flower essence therapy. Originally founded in 1979 by Richard Katz, the society has been co-directed since 1980 by Patricia Kaminski and Richard Katz, who are married and professional partners.The Society promotes plant research and empirical clinical research on the therapeutic effects of flower essences, conducts training, certification programs, and seminars throughout the world as well as disseminating publications about flower essence and provides a communication & referral network for an estimated 50,000 active flower essence practitioners who are teaching, researching and practicing flower essence therapy in their healing work.”

The Flower Essence Society maintains a beautiful and informative website with an abundance of free research articles by & about practitioner research in the field and in depth case studies. You can make online donations at the website. You can also become a member in the society right online giving you access to an additional wealth of research essence profiles. Membership also includes access to the book, Flower Essence Repertory. The Repertory is a richly illustrated, cross referenced informative resource for anyone interested in Flower Essence therapies. Patricia and Richard also manage Flower Essence Services, which produces flower essences and herbal products at Terra Flora, their 17 acre biodynamic/organic garden and wildlife sanctuary in the northern Sierra Nevada foothills of Nevada City, California. 

(Note: Jane Sherry & Curtis Lang, Satya Center Founders have been using the Flower Essence Services products for several years, and have found that they provide consistant, vital and exquisite flower essences and herbal products of a very high vibrational quality. They have a deep and profound effect personally and in their healing practice. FES very generously provides a discount for health practioners and their products are very affordable for the general public.

And, if you are interested in learning more about flower essences, reading up on groundbreaking research, flower profiles, flower affirmations, discounts on publications, practitioner referral network and member newsletters, I highly recommend investing a small amount of time and money in 
becoming a member of  the Flower Essence Society. It costs only $25 per year, and is a valuable way to contribute your love and energy into healing yourself, your loved ones and our only home, Planet Earth.)