Magazine article Aging Today

Exploring Spirituality within the Practice of Psychotherapy

Magazine article Aging Today

Exploring Spirituality within the Practice of Psychotherapy

Article excerpt

Exploring spirituality within the practice of psychotherapy Spiritual Competency in Psychotherapy By Philip Brownell Springer Publishing, 2014, $12.75, 268 pages, ISBN-13: 978-0826199331

Review by Robert L. Weber

Over the past 25 years, there has been an increase in books that focus on integrating spirituality into psychotherapeutic practice. The American Psychological Association (APA) has published many such volumes. Researchers, practitioners, academics and pastoral professionals all have written books on the subject of professional competence in areas of religion and spirituality.

This plethora of such books is the fruit of a movement away from the Freudian notion of religion as an "illusion"; the more ready acceptance of religion and spirituality as legitimate topics by professional organizations; and the emergence of multiculturalism and professional competence as essential components of practice, ethically required of professionals in areas such as race, gender, culture, and religion and spirituality.

Philip Brownell's stated intention is "to explore spirituality in the practice of psychotherapy in order to contribute to the competence of clinicians" (p. xviii), a competency "that builds knowledge, supports growth in ability, and hopefully leads to a more effective, ethical, and competent practice" (p. 14).

For Brownell, writing Spiritual Competency in Psychotherapy is neither an academic exercise nor just a summary of the latest scholarly research, though it certainly has an academic tone. What Brownell, a clinical psychologist and an ordained clergyman, is trying to foster and encourage among psychotherapists of all persuasions derives from who he is and what his roles are in the world. These inseparable roles gave him the desire "to write a book on spiritual competence that would encourage and stimulate an experience of the Spirit and not just make announcements or leave the reader in canned and predictable statements about professional responsibilities" (p. 14).

Brownell admits his book is "not a book that explores all the major issues with specificity in reference to a majority of spiritual traditions and worldviews ... [and it] will not be all things to all people" (pp. xvi-xvii). He also acknowledges his belief and the issues it may raise for some. …

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