Counseling and Psychotherapy of Religious Clients: A Developmental Approach

Counseling and Psychotherapy of Religious Clients: A Developmental Approach

Counseling and Psychotherapy of Religious Clients: A Developmental Approach

Counseling and Psychotherapy of Religious Clients: A Developmental Approach

Synopsis

This is a resource for helping professional caregivers respond sensitively and competently to individuals who present religious concerns in counseling and psychotherapy. The need for a guide to psychological treatment is underscored by evidence that the majority of Americans hold strong religious convictions. Genia shows how, regardless of particular religious allegiances, a person's faith normally progresses through five distinct stages over the course of a lifetime. Psychological conflicts may cause developmental aberrations that lead to unhealthy and destructive forms of faith. The book provides psychological profiles of adults who typify each stage and shows how spiritual and psychological problems are inextricably intertwined.

Excerpt

I always considered myself to be a religious person. I attended church faithfully and frequently participated in prayer meetings and Bible study groups. Until I experienced an emotional crisis, I never questioned my religious convictions. However, a series of setbacks shattered the hollow security of my simple-minded devotion.

Upon disclosing my doubts and concerns to a trusted minister I was told that my suffering and disillusionment resulted from my lack of faith. the reality of the traumatic losses and disappointments in my life were glossed over with formulas for instant peace. I was urged to "cast my cares upon the Lord" as if God can be used as a garbage disposal for unwanted problems and frustrations.

When my supplications failed to provide emotional relief, feelings of guilt for my faithlessness caused me to become even more despondent and confused. I was convinced that God had either abandoned me or was punishing me for my failures and doubts. Finally, I sought professional psychological help. It took me several years to work through the psychological conflicts that were underlying my depression. in the process my faith was transformed.

I learned from my experience in therapy that my problems of faith had more to do with damaging childhood experiences than the unfortunate circumstances that precipitated my spiritual crisis. My professional training and clinical work have corroborated my earlier discovery that an individual's religious experience is considerably intertwined with his or her psychological make-up. Faith draws on the psychic resources . . .

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