Spiritually Oriented Therapeutic Interventions

By Gomes, Christine | Journal of Psychology and Theology, Summer 2012 | Go to article overview

Spiritually Oriented Therapeutic Interventions


Gomes, Christine, Journal of Psychology and Theology


Aten, J.D., McMinn, NCR., & Worthington, E.L.(Eds.). (2011).

Spiritually oriented interventions /hr counseling and psychotherapy. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. Hardcover. 368 pp. S69.95. ISBN. 978-1-4338-0946-0.

Jamie D. Aten, PhD, is the D7: Arthur P Rech and Mrs. Jean May Rect.) Associate Professor of Psychology at Wheaton College. He has published numerous journal articles on religious and spiritual issues in counseling and psychotherapy. He is the coeditor of two books, including "Spirituality and the Therapeutic Process: A Comprehensive Resource From Intake Through termination" (published by the American Psychological Association A.PA).

Mark R. McMinn, PhD, is a professor ("psychology at George Fox University. He is a diplomate in clinical psychology of the American Board of Professional Psychology, a former president of APA's Division 36 (Psychology of Religion), and a fellow of Division 36 Dr McMinn is the author, coauthor, or coeditor of 13 hooks and is featured in an APA psychotherapy DVD on Christian counseling.

Everett L. Worthington jr., PhD, is a professor of psychology at Virginia commonwealth University, Virginia's largest state university. Dr. Worthington has studied the psychology of religion and spirituality (within a variety of religious traditions), forgiveness, and marriage within basic and applied research and has published numerous books, articles, or chapters.

This book, published by the American Psychological Association, is an edited volume that was written for the purpose of providing clinicians with practical information regarding the use of spiritually oriented therapeutic interventions. Following a brief introduction written by the book's editors, the book is divided into three main sections: Foundations and Context, Clinical Techniques and Applications, and Training Issues and Future Directions. In order to provide a comprehensive review, I will briefly describe the content of each of these three sections and attempt to highlight the aspects of each of these sections I found to be particularly helpful.

The first section of the book, Foundations and Context, is broad in scope and provides information regarding the importance of spirituality in the lives of the vast majority of Americans, the importance of taking an ethical and informed approach to the treatment of individuals dealing with issues related to spirituality, and the importance of including an assessment of spirituality in any assessment of overall psychological functioning. There were several aspects of this section which I found to be particularly helpful. First, the authors' careful treatment of the ethics involved in treating individuals who present with spiritual issues to psychotherapy was nuanced and thought provoking. For example, many of the authors' discussed the importance of respecting religious and spiritual diversity regardless of one's own religious or spiritual beliefs. Although only one chapter in this section was specifically designed to discuss ethical issues, it is evident that all of the authors who contributed to this section carefully considered the ethics around using spiritually oriented interventions in counseling and psychotherapy.

In the second chapter of this volume, Ali, Allmon, and Cornick (2011) discussed the role of values in psychotherapy, both in terms of the therapist's values and the client's values. I found this to be a helpful discussion as the impossibility of providing value-free therapy is now a widely accepted notion. Because it is impossible for therapists to be completely value free, these authors suggest that the best way to provide ethical treatment is to be aware of one's own values, and to use that awareness in order to provide the most effective treatment to clients or to provide referrals when needed.

Another chapter in this section which I found to be particularly helpful was chapter four, which addresses the treatment of problematic spirituality in counseling and psychotherapy. …

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