Friday, April 29, 2011
The religious and spiritual make up of the therapist
Dr. Steven C. Hayes is a professor of Psychology at the University of Nevada and is renown for his implementation of Acceptance Commitment Therapy (ACT) in psychological maladjustment. There is more information about him and the type of therapy he does in the link below. It also is important to recognize that he is not a believer of any sort, in other words he is an atheist.
In one of the therapy sessions that he conducted he works with an African American woman who experiences a great sense of guilt from the expectations she perceives as coming from her mother. In that therapy session, which we watched in Counseling 506, Dr. Hayes uses an ACT approach and also displays sensitivity to the client's religious beliefs. For me that raises the question of how can God use an atheist therapist in helping a woman of faith? In class we briefly touched on how the Holy Spirit is present to minister healing to the client in the therapy session. More precisely that in many ways the therapist, in some situations facilitates or can even lead an individual to experience God.
As a Christian who is preparing to enter in the field of counseling and therapy, and desiring to do an honest and effective integration of spirituality, theology and psychology, I wrestle with many questions. I understand that the presence of the therapist and particularly his or her relationship with God has a strong influence on the therapy process. However, in Dr. Hayes' case, he is an atheist and still very capable of helping a religious woman. What this does to me, it opens my mind more to God's ability to use anyone to help His children. Also it allows me to see that psychological intervention without implicit or explicit Christian values can be somewhat helpful.