Soul retrieval is a shamanic process of bringing back a piece of a person’s soul, or vital essence, that has disconnected from the person. When pieces of our soul are missing, it can be like attempting to run a business without having a full staff. It can leave us feeling as though we are out of balance, and we may truly feel as though a piece of us is missing.   Symptoms of soul loss may include:

  • Feeling powerless
  • apathy
  • having difficulty being present, or as though we’re watching life like a movie.
  • feeling numb, deadened, or empty
  • A common expression when soul loss has happened is “I have never felt the same since _____ happened.”

Without realizing it, we move in and out of our bodies all of the time. When we are driving down the road and suddenly realize we have been daydreaming, and not paying attention to the road, yup, that’s us popping out of our bodies. During those times, we step right back in, and it’s no big deal. However, there are situations when we may not totally step back in, and soul loss can occur.

Common causes of soul loss are traumas that are too unbearable for a person to stay present for i.e. surgery, loss of a loved one, divorce, rape, incest, violence, abuse.

It’s part of our natural survival phenomenon that we may separate from our body during a trauma. If we realize we are about to be in an accident, we don’t want to feel the full impact of the pain, so we step out of our body. People in car accidents, or other traumatic events, sometimes talk of watching the incident from outside of themselves.

Soul loss can initially appear as shock. The soul essence checks out of the body, and can naturally, bit by bit, begin to return as the person feels safe again. However, if the trauma is ongoing, or just too much for the person to endure, the soul piece may dissociate and not come back because it doesn’t feel safe to return. The piece may be trapped in the state of trauma, and be too disoriented to return. In this case, a soul retrieval may be helpful.

The role of the shaman is to journey into the spirit world (or non-ordinary reality) to look for the piece, see if it’s willing to return, assist the piece with any healing it may need to feel safe to return, and bring the piece back to the person receiving the healing.

Soul loss can also occur by giving away a part of ourselves. We hear this all the time with people offering their “heart and soul” to a lover, or kids that want to please a parent will sometimes give them a part of themselves because they believe they are helping the parent. Sometimes, soul pieces are stolen by another person. This happens when there is an unhealthy attachment to another person’s vital essence, and the person can’t let go of the other person. This can occur in intimate relationships with significant others(especially when a relationship ends), between parents/children, or even friendships.

Soul loss can also occur following the death of a loved one. Sometimes a person’s soul may attempt to follow the person who died, and the soul part of the living person is out there seeking the dead person. Interestingly, I’ve seen this happen with animals also. I had someone ask me to work with their dog, whom I’ll call Hunter. Hunter was having issues with anxiety after the death of their older dog Smiley. When I began working with Hunter, I found that her soul kept going out searching for Smiley in the spirit world. She was anxious because she wanted to bring Smiley back because her person was so sad over the death. We were able to help Hunter’s anxiety by helping her soul to understand that she didn’t need to attempt to bring Smiley back, and through healing work with her owner around their dog’s death.

In traditional shamanic societies soul loss would be recognized quickly, and often a soul retrieval would be done within 3 or 4 days of a traumatic event. In our society, most people have never even heard of soul retrieval, so we may be working with a piece that has been missing for many years. I recently did a soul retrieval with a person who, now in their 30’s, had experienced living through a tornado as a child. We found that a piece of their soul had left from that experience, and a second piece left soon after the tornado because of a lack of support/shaming around the trauma. By journeying into the spirit world to find both pieces, we were able help those pieces heal, and reunite them with the person. We then did further energy work with the person to release the shame and fear that had been stuck in their body. Here’s her experience in her own words:

I did a soul retrieval with Terri. It was life changing. I’ve known Terri for years now, and she guided me through my most traumatic life event in such a loving way. I was able, with her help, to give voice to my six-year-old self, and acknowledge trauma while literally, figuratively and spiritually moving past the negativity, shame and avoidance of the feelings I’ve carried with me my entire life. I’ve accomplished more with Terri in a soul retrieval session than years of therapy. I felt free, unencumbered, like a thousand pounds had been lifted off my shoulders. Because of Terri’s nonjudgmental and nurturing nature, I felt comfortable going all the way, nothing was left unsaid. I felt loved and accepted. After the soul retrieval, I feel so changed. I felt a genuine lightness and like there are no dark, dirty secrets. I feel whole and peaceful. – Sara

If soul retrieval work resonates with you, Terri offers sessions both in person in Raleigh, NC and via phone for people around the world. You can contact her at terri@