Does religion belong in psychotherapy?

For anyone in the helping profession, whether as mental health professionals or religious leaders, this question is bound to arise. Many mental health professionals feel uncomfortable discussing religion, while many religious leaders feel uncomfortable referring their congregants to professionals who have no knowledge of their faith, nor intent to engage with it.

And yet Michelle Pearce, PhD, assistant professor and clinical psychologist at the Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Maryland, argues that if religion is important to a client, then religion will be a part of psychotherapy, whether it is discussed or not. Clients cannot check their values at the door any more than the professionals who treat them.

To Pearce, the question isn’t really “does religion belong?” but rather “how can mental health professionals help their religious clients engage with and use their faith as a healing resource in psychotherapy?”

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Christian Clients with Depression is the answer to that question, as the book’s purpose is to educate mental health professionals and pastoral counselors about religion’s role in therapy, as well as equip them to discuss religious issues and use evidence-based, religiously-integrated tools with Christian clients experiencing depression.

 

In this book, readers will find the following resources in an easy-to-use format:

  • An overview of the scientific benefits of integrating clients’ religious  beliefs and practices in psychotherapy

  • An organizing therapeutic approach for doing Christian CBT

  • Seven tools, specific to Christian CBT, to treat depression

  • Suggested dialogue for therapists to introduce concepts and tools

  • Skill-building activity worksheets for clients

  • Clinical examples of Christian CBT and the seven tools in action

Practitioners will learn the helpful (and sometimes not so helpful) role a person’s Christian faith can play in psychotherapy, and will be equipped to discuss religious issues and use religiously-integrated tools in their work. At the same time, clergy will learn how Christianity can be integrated into an evidence-based secular mental health treatment for depression, which is sure to increase their comfort level for making referrals to mental health practitioners who provide this form of treatment.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Christian Clients with Depression is a practical guide for mental health professionals and pastoral counselors who want to learn how to use Christian-specific CBT tools to treat depression in their Christian clients.


Night Bloomers: 12 Principles for Writing Your Way Through the Dark and Thriving in Adversity (Coming soon!)

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Charles Dickens got it right: Sometimes the worst of times is also the best of times. We don’t usually respond with gratitude or celebration when our lives get turned upside down by loss, tragedy, and grief. But we might if we could fast-forward into our future and see that the difficulty and devastation we are experiencing was the best thing that had ever happened to us.

It’s counterintuitive, but a growing body of research on resilience and post-traumatic growth is revealing that the dark times in our lives can be the very catalyst we need to experience beauty, growth, and transformation. In short, we can intentionally use adversity to become the best version of ourselves.

Now, this kind of growth and transformation is not guaranteed; it’s a choice. It also requires a certain mindset, intention, perseverance, and the active use of proven tools to achieve. That’s why I wrote Night Bloomers: 12 Principles for Writing Your Way Through the Dark and Thriving in Adversity. I wanted to empower you to use your adversity to transform and thrive. As you work your way through this book, one principle and one step of at a time, this is exactly what you’ll do. You’ll learn and practice 12 psychologically-based principles using a proven healing tool—journaling using guided writing prompts—to develop resilience and experience healing and transformation. 

The new paradigm, and the central theme of the book, is that of blooming in the dark. Did you know that some flowers actually require the dark to bloom? And so do some people. I call these people Night Bloomers.

My goal in using this metaphor—flowers and people who require the dark to bloom—is to help shift your perspective from one of loss and despair to one of growth and hope. Because once we change our perspective, we can begin to use our own inner resources and creativity to begin moving in this new life-affirming direction. Blooming in the dark doesn’t happen automatically. The darkness is an opportunity for transformation, and I want to help you take full advantage of the opportunity you are facing.

As a clinical psychologist, I have the honor of listening to the stories of many Night Bloomers. In the clinical context, although I can relate to my clients’ suffering, I can only allude to my own journey in the dark. Writing Night Bloomers was a way to share some of my blooming story without breaking the sacred contract between psychologist and client. It was also a way to share the inspirational stories of other Night Bloomers, both famous and people like you and me. And more importantly, it was a way to share the principles and tools that helped me—and will help you—to bloom in the dark.

If you’re ready to bloom in the dark, this book is for you!