Where does faith fit into therapy? A recent post on the NY Times blog Well, reports that a growing number of counselors and patients think it that religion belongs in therapy. According to Psychology Today, more patients look for conselors who can discuss their problems and goals from a religious frame of reference.
A Spiritual Director, or clergy of any religion, who is also trained in counseling would be best suited to incorporate a client’s religious beliefs into therapy. Yet how many people will actually seek out or find such a situation?
What is unfortunate is that our culture has separated religion and science is such a way that, even for those who desire it, any attempt at a hybrid approach is shunned as not being evidence based. However, the lack of interest and funding for research that seeks to bridge faith and health perpetuates this lack of evidence. While meditation has been shown to be effective in mitigating some psychological or physiological symptoms, only recently has contemplative prayer been of interest to a few researchers.
Beliefs, including religious ones, can provide motivation for our actions. They can encourage us to pursue contemplative practices, positive social encounters and a healthy active lifestyle. If therapists and other healthcare providers are to consider the whole person, shouldn't they be better prepared to consider how one’s faith might be incorporated into the healing process?
With faith-filled intentions, all daily activities can become acts of prayer, praise, and connection to a divine power. Nourishing your body and exercise can be considered taking care of the gift of life. Reaching out to others to give or receive acts of kindness, compassion and social support can be considered acts of faithful service. Every thought and actions can become a prayer form by your intentions and desire. Self-care becomes an at of faith if that is your intention. Meditation, mindfulness, positive thinking, nutrition, exercise, and interactions with others and nature can resonant with your beliefs, by the transforming power of holy desire.
See Faith View for more information on relating faith and compassionate self-care.