The Separation of Religion and Therapy. (Fink! Still at Large)

By Fink, Paul J. | Clinical Psychiatry News, November 2002 | Go to article overview

The Separation of Religion and Therapy. (Fink! Still at Large)


Fink, Paul J., Clinical Psychiatry News


The collision of the spiritual and the secular in psychiatric treatment can prove troublesome--even combustible--and some psychiatrists may find themselves uncomfortable when religion takes a seat beside a patient.

For Discussion: How can a patient's religious beliefs and background create barriers to effective treatment? Alternatively, how can a therapist use a patient's faith to help speed progress toward recovery? V/hat strategies can secularly minded therapists adopt to better treat their spiritually minded patients?

Asset Rather Than Liability

If the value system of the psychiatrist is one based on a purely secular view of life and if the psychiatrist is in the tradition of Freud and sees religion as a crutch or even a dysfunctional expression of the patient's life, there is no question that therapy will be aimed consciously or unconsciously at decreasing the viewpoint of religion in a patient's life. The ability of a psychiatrist to evaluate the role of religious or cultural matter in the patient's life is crucial in therapy

In most cases, though not all, religious beliefs and practice tend to add meaning to a person's life.

Religious views are often an asset rather than a liability, depending on the intensity of the control the religion has on the patient's life. Most patients are looking for ways to manage pain, losses, and confusion.

However, we should closely examine harmful religious practices that are extremely rigid, restrictive, and almost antihuman. These include the demands that some fundamentalist practices require, exemplified by women being cast in an unimportant role or the fear of raising appropriate questions as if they were forbidden things.

I have often been asked by secular-minded therapists to explain some aspects of a religious belief to them. When I answer them, I encourage such therapists to have their patients explain the background meaning and role of their religious viewpoint. In this way, the patient feels more of an equal, more of a partner with the therapist.

Samuel Klagbrun, M.D.

Katonah, N.Y

Spirituality vs. Religion

I think we need to differentiate spirituality from religion.

The former is an essential part of our psyche, hence our biopsychosocial/spiritual self.

The latter, on the other hand, is more likely organized in nature and reflects the rules, regulations, and rituals of the given faith.

It is very often the patient's religion that "clashes" with the psychiatry. Spirituality, however, is complementary to the behavioral sciences.

Fuat Ulus, M.D.

Erie, Pa.

'The Unspoken Leg' of Therapy

There surely is a spiritual dimension to every person and every problem just as there are physical, emotional, and social components. It is the unspoken leg of every therapy and the completion of the biopsychosocial "spiritual" model of psychiatric illness. I think we would talk about it more in our schools and literature, but it's just real hard to come up with experts or a consensus about religious truth.

I thought Dr. David Larson at the National Institute of Mental Health was doing a good job of sorting this out for us. His death was such a loss. There is a Christian medical/dental subdivision of the American Psychiatric Association that has been a good resource for me.

Dave Stengel, D. O.

Coeur d'Alene, Idaho

Dr. Fink: The separation of church and state is an irrelevant concept when we think about a patient who cannot be separated into parts. One cannot tell the patient to leave his religious background, beliefs, and rituals at the door: "They are barred from the therapeutic chamber!" The patient in therapy is a whole person, and religious and spiritual beliefs are a part of him or her. There are memories, references, words, and metaphors that enter the therapeutic dialogue all the time and need to be understood. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Separation of Religion and Therapy. (Fink! Still at Large)
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.