June 3, 2017
How are Religion and Spirituality linked to Psychotherapy?
Sometimes everyone wonders how their own personal beliefs fit in with their personal struggles. Sometimes the link between spirit, faith, belief, reincarnation and forgiveness is unclear. Yet, for millennia religion and spirituality have been a part of the human condition. Humans are not like other living beings because of their ability to have abstract thought. With the ability to conceive thoughts, both positively and negatively, meaning, faith, trust, and belief are relevant regardless of the label we attach to ourselves (religious, spiritual, atheist, or agnostic). “Meaning,” which is sometimes considered to a component of faith, is a part of the human condition.
For eons humans have formed community and created strong connections because of belief in the transcendent. Beliefs, spiritual experiences, and religion are part and parcel of humanity’s genetic and cultural heritage. Neuroscientists, who study the impact of the scores of mechanisms of the brain that impact on behavior and cognitive beliefs, believe that the human brain has created religious and spiritual beliefs for millennia. In recent decades counselors, psychologists, psychiatrists and even medical doctors realize that spiritual and religious beliefs, thoughts, and behaviors are integrally tied to mental and physical health.
In my work with clients I believe that it is important to address religious and spiritual meaning in order work with all the parts of a client (mind, body, and spirit). For me it is even more significant because the term psychology is directly related to spirituality and religiosity. The modern term psychology is derived from two Greek words, psyche meaning soul or spirit, and logos, meaning study, thus, psychology is the study of the soul. In addition the word therapist formerly meant a servant or an attendant. In its truest meaning, a psychotherapist is “an attendant to the soul.” When I work with clients, it is common for clients to discuss their soul wounds, their regret, oversights, mistakes, and feelings of guilt and shame. I believe as a psychotherapist, it is my job to address these soul wounds and aid the client to find suitable skills for her or him to better deal with the inevitable hurts of being a human.
The word salvation is often linked to apprehension. Historically salvation is closely tied to condemnation, intolerance, and prejudice. Salvation is actually a term that is linked to holistic health and well-being. In Latin salvare means to save, and salus means to be healthy or whole. Psychological salvation is to find congruence, unity, fullness and wholeness. Many clients experience beliefs, thoughts, emotions, and behaviors that create inner strife and are self-destructive. As a psychotherapist (soul attendant) I endeavor to assist clients from all religious, spiritual and faith backgrounds to find wholeness and congruence in order to live into a healthier and integrated self. If you are seeking wholeness and want to work through your soul wounds, I would be happy to begin the process of “psychological salvation” to help you integrate your personal religious and spiritual into an integrated life that is meaningful for you.
David Johns has a PhD in Counseling Education and Supervision. He is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and Licensed Addiction Counselor (LAC) in the state of Colorado. His areas of interest include working with clients who struggle with depression, grief, anxiety, trauma, sexuality, and relational issues. Dr. Johns attends to client’s soul wounds by addressing the intersections of culture, religion, sexuality, thoughts, beliefs and emotions. Dr. Johns works with clients to understand their soul wounds and find their personal psychological salvation. For an appointment call 303-642-6636 or email at [email protected]
Cashwell, C. S., & Young, J. S. (2005). Integrating spirituality and religion into counseling: An introduction. In Cashwell, C. S., & Young, J. S. (Eds.), Integrating spirituality and religion into counseling: A guide to competent practice (pp. 1-29). Alexandria, VA: American Counseling Association.
Elkins, D. N. (1995). Psychotherapy and spirituality: Toward a theory of the soul. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 35(2), 78-98.
Johns, R. D., & Hanna, F. J. (2011). Peculiar and queer: Spiritual and emotional salvation for the LGBTQ Mormon. Journal of LGBT Issues in Counseling, 5(3-4), 197-219.
Newberg, A., & Waldman, M. R. (2009). How god changes your brain: Breakthrough findings from a leading neuroscientist. New York: Ballantine Books.
Sternberg, E. M. (2001). The balance within: The science connecting health and emotions. New York: W. H. Freeman and Company.
Wilson, D. S. (2002). Darwin’s cathedral: Evolution, religion and the nature of society. Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press.