Soul Healing: A Spiritual Orientation in Counseling and Therapy

Soul Healing: A Spiritual Orientation in Counseling and Therapy

Soul Healing: A Spiritual Orientation in Counseling and Therapy

Soul Healing: A Spiritual Orientation in Counseling and Therapy

Synopsis

Therapist Dr. Dorothy S. Becvar suggests that at some level we choose our experiences as a means of providing opportunities for learning lessons essential to our personal growth. Becvar claims that regardless of what her clients believe in, she has found that a spiritual orientation often encourages deeper levels of healing, helping them to define meaning in life and to achieve ultimate satisfaction.

Excerpt

At a recent conference on Spirituality and Healing sponsored by Harvard Medical School, David Larson, M.D., summarized the findings of more than 200 studies researching the association between spirituality and mental health by noting that "Individuals with a spiritual commitment showed lower levels of substance abuse, stress, depression, and suicide and reported increased overall marital, sexual, and life satisfaction." A spiritual orientation -- a commitment to living according to beliefs that transcend the immediate here-and-now and provide a meaningful and hopeful perspective on life and living -- is, it seems, just what the doctor might order! It also appears to be what our field is yearning for.

Until recently, with some notable exceptions, we therapists tended to ignore and at times pathologize the role of spirituality and religion in our clients' lives. Discussions on this topic generally overemphasized the harm and suffering that religious/spiritual dogmatism and fanaticism have caused through the centuries and underemphasized the health-promoting elements at the heart of spirituality within or outside organized religion. Lately, however, there has been a marked shift. Maybe as a backlash to our field's preoccupation with adjusting to the demands of managed care and developing ever briefer treatment models designed to alleviate strictly behavioral symptoms, the call for renewed emphasis on what has been termed the "soul of therapy" is being widely heard. The number of articles in the lay and professional literature as well as of well-attended workshops dedicated to addressing issues of values and spirituality at professional conferences has increased significantly over the past few years. This interest, as my conversations with friends and colleagues indicate, is far from academic or merely theoretical. I continue to be amazed to learn . . .

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