Modern Psychology and Ancient Wisdom: Psychological Healing Practices from the World's Religious Traditions

By Tangeman, James | Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, January 1, 2010 | Go to article overview

Modern Psychology and Ancient Wisdom: Psychological Healing Practices from the World's Religious Traditions


Tangeman, James, Journal of Transpersonal Psychology


MIJARES, SHARON (Ed.). (2003). Modern psychology and ancient wisdom: Psychological healing practices from the world's religious traditions. Binghamton, NY: Hawthorn Press. xi + 235 pp. ISBN 0-7890-1752-0. Paperback, $28.95. Reviewed by James Tangeman.

A current realization emerging within the field of professional psychology and psychotherapy is that many individuals seeking guidance are not only interested in understanding or altering their cognitive patterns and/or behaviors but they are also in search of meaning. This yearning to find meaning within the cognitive patterns, behaviors and events that take place in their lives often leads individuals to deepen, revisit, or establish a relationship with spirit. Mijares' book Modern Psychology and Ancient Wisdom: Psychological Healing Practices from theWorld's Religious Traditions, attempts to demonstrate the integration of psychology and psychotherapy with several religious traditions.

Mijares explains the importance of this integration by positing that individuals, families, and society at large are in discord because they are disconnected from ''the deeper meaning within life: the spiritual.'' She argues that through the integration of modern psychotherapeutic practices and ancient wisdom traditions we can begin to reconnect with this deeper meaning. Aimed at practitioners of psychotherapy, especially those of humanistic and transpersonal orientation, religious counselors, and students of religious studies, this anthology of psychotherapeutic approaches augmented with religious practices and ideals provides a broad but brief overview, which is easy to read and contains minimal typing errors.

The anthology begins with an introductory chapter by Mijares. Here she argues that ''there is a great need for [a] new paradigm of psychospirituality'' and that the current mainstream perspective in psychotherapy, which too often considers any and all religious and/or spiritual content to be a sign of pathology has had a largely detrimental impact on us, individually and collectively. The following eight chapters are dedicated to eight specific religious traditions (Buddhism, Christianity, Goddess Spirituality, Judaism, Native American Psychospirituality, Sufism, Taoism, and Yoga and Hinduism).

These eight chapters make up the bulk of the anthology. Each chapter highlights a different religious tradition and attempts (in most cases) to illustrate how that religion can be interwoven into psychotherapeutic practice. Preceding each chapter Mijares discusses pertinent ideas within that chapter's religious tradition and provides a succinct statement regarding the author and the contents of her/his chapter. The majority of the chapters begin with a brief introduction to the religious tradition, followed by several aspects or principles found in that tradition that can be imbued into therapy practice. This is then followed by a case example and ends with a small conclusion, which sums up key points of the chapter. Those chapters that follow this structure are mostly well written and provide a clear picture of clinical application. …

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