Religion and Coping in Mental Health Care

Religion and Coping in Mental Health Care

Religion and Coping in Mental Health Care

Religion and Coping in Mental Health Care

Synopsis

Joseph Pieper and Marinus van Uden have proposed a book consisting of previously published papers on the topics of religion, coping, and mental health care. It covers quite a bit of territory: the complex relationships be-tween religion and mental health, surveys that present the views of therapists and patients about the interface between religion and mental health, a case study of a religious patient struggling with psychological problems, empirical studies of religious coping among various groups, and a method for teaching the clinical psychology of religion. Although the papers are diverse, they are unified by several themes. First, the papers convey a balanced approach to religion and psychology. They speak to the potentially positive and negative contributions religion can make to health and well-being. Second, several of the papers focus on the role of religious coping among patients in the Netherlands. This focus is noteworthy since the large majority of this theory and research has been limited to the USA. Third, they underscore the value of a cross-cultural approach to the field. Their surveys point to the importance of religious/worldview perspec-tives to many patients (and therapists) in the Netherlands, even though the culture is more secularised than the USA. However, their papers also suggest that the manifestation of these religious/worldview perspectives may take different shape in the Netherlands. Fourth, the papers have clinical relevance. The case history of the obsessive-compulsive patient by Van Uden (ch. 4) contains an excellent example of the way in which religious resources can be accessed to counter dysfunctional behaviours. This volume shows initial effort in a newly emerging area of study. It is encouraging to see a significant body of research and practice on the psy-chology of religion and coping coming out of the Netherlands. It could stimu-late further advances in a more cross-culturally sensitive, clinical psychology of religion. Kenneth Pargament Professor of Psychology at Bowling Green State University in Ohio, USA. Dr. Joseph Z.T. Pieper (1953) works as an assistant professor in psychology of religion and pastoral psychology at the Department of Theology at Utrecht University and at the Catholic Theological University Utrecht, the Nether-lands. Prof. dr. Marinus H.F. van Uden (1952) works as a professor in clinical psychology of religion at Tilburg University and Radboud University Nijmegen, the Netherlands, and he is a licensed clinical psychologist and psychotherapist.

Excerpt

We will start this introduction by substantiating this volume's basic assumption: the necessity of attention to faith and worldview in mental health care. We will do this by making connections with the results of research in the area of 'religious coping', carried out in the United States. After this, we will briefly indicate the findings of our own research in this area in the Netherlands. Our research was focused, on the one hand, on the position that, according to clients, faith and worldview have in their coping with their mental health problems; on the other hand, on the position that therapists assign to this dimension in the treatment process. In the subsequent chapters of this volume, these data will be further elaborated. We will continue this introduction with some conclusions about the research results' significance for mental health care, and we will finish with a preview of the chapters of this volume.

1. Religious coping

In the psychology of religion, the study of the relationship between religion and mental health has always been a main theme. Already at the discipline's inception at the end of the nineteenth century, James (1994/1902) explored the boundaries between, on the one hand, profound religious and mystical experiences and, on the other hand, psychopathology, whilst Leuba (1896) and Starbuck (1899) were concerned with the significance of conversion experiences for the converts' mental health. In Chapter 1 of this volume we will consider at length the complex relationship that exists between the phenomena of religion and mental health. In the last few decades, this relationship has been studied in particular within the 'religious coping' paradigm, that has been formulated most comprehensively by the American psychologist of religion Kenneth Pargament (1997; see also Harrison 2001). In this line of research, a bridge is being built from theory to . . .

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