College of Psychology: Faculty Articles

Title

The spiritually responsible therapist: Religious material in the psychotherapeutic setting

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

1-1-1998

Publication Title

Psychotherapy

ISSN

0033-3204

Volume

35

Issue/No.

3

Abstract

There exists a movement within the field of psychology to incorporate religious material into the overall conceptualization and treatment of the client. This article questions the appropriateness of such incorporation and emphasizes instead the distinction the therapist needs to make between religious and psychological material in the psychotherapeutic setting. The therapist must also be aware of how religious material can intensify the transference, resistance, and countertransference, thereby complicating the therapeutic process. Client issues that relate to the religious identity of the therapist or invoke a sense of exclusive similarity in the therapeutic dyad can further complicate the therapy. Such complications suggest that the avoidance of both overt and covert messages that communicate the therapist's personal values and beliefs may be beneficial for therapy.

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