Friday, April 4, 2014

Religion and Psychology: The Ministry as a First Attempt at Psychotherapy

March 12th, 2014  

     Could it be that the first psychotherapy was religion?  I'm thinking about writing a paper on the subject.  Here are some pertinent points and questions to this end.

  1. How are religion and psychotherapy linked?
  2. Are there any sources out there that can shed light on this? (counseling ministries)
  3. Religion satisfies all existential concerns: meaninglessness, isolation, freedom, death.
  4. Could eastern religions (specifically Confucianism) be a more constructivist religious psychotherapy?
  5. What places does philosophy take in this?
  6. Read more Yalom, Freud, philosophy, and religious texts.
  7. Is religion open to autonomous thought? Or is it more a rule book?  Are there therapies out there that are rule books? (12 step)
  8. How are psychotherapy and religion not linked?
  9. Is there still space in the world for such practice?
  10. Religion and psychotherapy timelines.  How did people deal with their problems before Freud?
  11. Is there any correlation between increase in church attendance/participation and struggles (economic, moral, etc.)?
  12. Definitions of religion and psychotherapy (and philosophy).
  13. Was philosophy/can philosophy be used as a psychotherapeutic theory?
  14. Is philosophy a more scientific/secular religion?
  15. Which existed first: religion or philosophy? Are they the same? Are they two sides of the same coin?
  16. Is religion without a conventional therapeutic theory a viable practice?
  17. Are clergy taught therapeutic ideals? Would clergy be better at their jobs if they knew more therapy?
  18. What situations could be better/worse with therapy or religion?
  19. Do different Abrahamic religions parallel to different types of psychotherapy?
  20. What is a clergy member's training process?
  21. Religion could be called a first attempt at explanation.  To a degree, a first attempt at science.  Perhaps ministry, the instruction and use of certain techniques based on religious tenets, could be described as a first psychotherapy.
  22. What were/are ministry's goals?
  23. What were Freud's reasons to create a systematic psychotherapeutic theory?
  24. Who were the Freuds, Ellises, and Rogerses of ministry?
  25. Is there literature about ministerial traditions as applied to confession, paster/paritioner relationships, etc.?
  26. Are there ethics documents like the ACA/APA have for the ministry?
  27. Can ministry still be an alternative to psychotherapy? Are there any studies that suggest it is better or worse?
  28. Could a modern therapist use religion as a therapeutic technique?
  29. Are there any good examples of clergymen who were good therapists or therapists who were devoutly religious?
  30. What does all this mean for the modern therapist? Why should we care?
  31. Rogers, at one point, went (or planned to go) to seminary.  Could we say that his genuineness, unconditional positive regard, and empathy came from a religious state of mind?
  32. What venues or side tracks would not be shared between the two?  Career/vocational counseling, research, pastoral care
  33. Could a minister counsel anybody (even the non-religious)? Could a therapist do the same?
  34. Should there be courses in counseling education about religions or religious therapy techniques?
  35. Do some research into Christian apologetics, Christian existentialism, and Christian existential apologetics.
  36. Take a look at literature that is critical of Yalom's critique of religion.  This could show the beginning of research direction and what has already been covered by others.
  37. There is an evolution from religion to psychotherapy.  Remember: Ministers are helpers, just like psychotherapists.  This means, to a degree, that there is something after psychotherapy, some higher evolution thereafter.
  38. An assumption that must be made is that man created religion.  Whether a God or gods exist is not germane here.  Man created a hierarchy of places/beings/actions that have consequences.  Religion was man's first imperfect way to define the world.  One of the biggest things the enlightened man must deal with his own mortality.  Before questions about starts and beginner physics, one must deal with the beginnings of endings.  As beginnings can be proven through record or memory, it is only endings that have no real means of record.
  39. Just as a square is a rectangle, but a rectangle is not a square, ministry could be a type of therapy, but therapy itself is not a religion.  A minister can use therapeutic techniques and provide some kind of counseling, but a counselor cannot necessarily do the same. 

April 3rd, 2014

40.  Why was psychotherapy created?  What were Freud's thoughts on religion?
41.  Research more into christian counseling, its applications, licensure programs, etc.


April 4th, 2014

42.  Understand that psychotherapy in general is metaphor and technique.  Very basically, it allows the self to understand and be more aware of itself, decreasing symptoms.  There is minimal scientific evidence that psychoanalytic theory or psychodynamics is scientifically accurate or presentable.  But it still works!
43.  Just as every invention is base on the client (and therefore should be malleable/adaptable to that end), I think that religion as a technique would have to follow the same basic rule.  Perhaps this is where religion and therapy broke off historically.  Religion could not keep changing for every person specifically while a budding concept, psychotherapy, could, and easily did.
44.  A good title for an article might be, "The Historical Role of the Ministry in Psychotherapy."
45.  Couldn't the idyllic image of a counselor as calm and patient come originally from the transfer over from the ministry?
46.  I think that therapists on both sides of the religion debate need to examine their own motives for argument.  On the one side, those against religion speak from personal opinion, seeking, to some degree, to "convert" people to their side.  The other side, those who are religious themselves, should take just as much care not to let their personal beliefs poison the interviews.  Each side must eschew such thoughts and attempt to do what is good for the client.  Perhaps a discussion about religion would be beneficial.  We are, at least, not in the business of bringing clients to shed their belief system.  Judgement is not our game.
47.  While religion might be a coping mechanism, I don't think that ministry is the same.  Again:  Freud's analysis of coping mechanisms is psychoanalysis, just as the application of religion is ministry.
48.  Find "official" and unbiased/biased definitions of religion and ministry.
49.  What can both fields (ministry and psychotherapy) learn from one another?
50.  With the New Science anti-religious movement, it seems that a lot of the debate for or against religion is done.  While who won the debate is somewhat up for grabs, a place for religion seems to be more and more scarce.
51.  What caused a split off between ministry and psychotherapy?  Is it a relevant psychotherapy anymore?  Could ministry be a flawed psychotherapy teaching its "clients" sub-par coping strategies?
52.  What research is out there promoting religion as positive?  As negative?
53.  Should we respect religion as a valid way of life?  Should it be a way of life?  Is it too much/too little?
54.  What are the positive effects of religion versus the positive effects of psychotherapy?  Are there negatives for both?  Anecdotes?