Religious Cognitive-Emotional Therapy : A New Form of Psychotherapy

By Rajaei, Ali Reza | Iranian Journal of Psychiatry, Summer 2010 | Go to article overview

Religious Cognitive-Emotional Therapy : A New Form of Psychotherapy


Rajaei, Ali Reza, Iranian Journal of Psychiatry


From the ancient times up to this date, it has been thought that religion and spirituality have important effects on human being's mental life. However, some psychologists and psychotherapists have ignored this role ,and thus neglected to study the effects of applying religion and spirituality in psychotherapy. However, many psychologists and psychotherapists have recently studied the relationship between religion or spirituality and mental health ; or used religious interventions in psychotherapies . Although different kinds of religious psychotherapies have been proposed, no comprehensive theory has been presented in this area. In this article a scientific ,comprehensive and applied spiritual method of psychotherapy is suggested . Religious Cognitive- Emotional Therapy (RCET) is a new form of cognitive therapy that uses the basic religious beliefs and insights in psychotherapy. RCET is a new integration of cognitive, humanistic, and existential psychotherapies that takes into account religious beliefs and insights of the clients. RCET is an effective method of psychotherapy for the treatment of those who suffer from identity crisis , depression , and anxiety ; and it can be developed to address other psychological disorders as well . Because RCET is a new approach, practically is needed to do further theoretical research in this area.

Keywords: Cognitive therapy , Psychotherapy, Religion, Spirituality

Iran J Psychiatry 2010; 5:81-87

From the ancient times up to this date , religion and spirituality have been important topics in human being's life . Moral discipline derived from religion has important effects on behavior , feeling and experience of human beings. Even though most of early psychologists such as William James (1902 ) , Carl G . Jung (1969 ) , Gordan Allport ( 1950 ) , and others studied religious experiences and their role in psychological well-being, religion and spirituality were neglected in psychology and psychotherapy for many years( 1-3).

The first question is why such a separation occurs when human beings are the subject of both religion and psychology. Probably psychologists think that psychology is a science that must study human beings in a scientific manner, while religion and spirituality is a completely individual or subjective experience not subjected to scientific or objective methods . Therefore, psychology , as a rigorous discipline, must detach itself from its philosophical and religious roots. On the other hand , some of the religious topics were confused with spiritualism , mesmerism , superstitious beliefs and other pseudo -scientific endeavors. In addition, two major clinical paradigms , psychoanalysis and behaviorism, tended to ignore religion and spirituality in explaining human behaviors (4-6) .

These are the reasons why many psychologists avoided studying religious concepts in psychology through scientific methods.

However, many psychologists and psychotherapists have recently studied the relationship between religion or spirituality and mental health or used religious interventions in psychotherapy(5, 7-13).In extensive literature, dealing with religious and spirituality topics is spurring now . The increasing rate of publications is 600% in a ten- year period (14).Towards the late 20th - century which is known as the post positivistic era , new approaches such as positive psychology and Eastern psychology were more open to religion and spirituality:( 5).

Researches show that in many Western countries, the prevalence of religious beliefs and affiliation is high. For example , recent estimations indicate that over 80% of Americans consider themselves affiliated with one religion and over 75% confirm the absolute existence of God and pray at least once a week ( 15). Also in UK , over 75% of the population state that they hold religious and spiritual beliefs(16).In Eastern countries , these percentages are very high ; for example , one study on the Iranian youth indicates that %92 of Iranian youth trust in God and %91 believe that God sees their actions (17).

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