Saturday, October 13, 2012

God Attachment Psychotherapy

The topic of God attachment is one that has become substantially researched over the past few years suggesting that spirituality and psychology are highly related in significant ways (Brokaw & Edwards, 1994; Hall, Halcrow, Hill & Delaney, 2004 as cited in Noffke & Hall, 2008). Noffke and Hall (2008) mentioned that “research within the fields of attachment, affective neurobiology, and emotional information processing indicate that patterns of infant-caregiver emotional communication are internalized by infants and serve as templates for interpreting subsequent interpersonal interactions and organizing their characteristic approaches of relating to others” (p. 58). God is considered both an external and internal figure to Christians in terms of their relationship with him. Therefore, the psychological processes and instruments that automatically and subconsciously facilitate how individuals process their emotions with other humans is also capable of impacting the form and quality of their relationships with God. Benner (1998) describes this relationship between psychological and spiritual functioning as the “psychospiritual unity of personality” (as cited in Noffke & Hall, 2008, p. 58).
The God attachment theory has been very enlightening in the world of psychology as well as spirituality. The exposure of the impact of attachment theory to a person’s relationship to God has allowed people to be able to better understand themselves and why they view God the way they do. Through a large amount of research, the field of Psychology has realized the impact and significance of spirituality in an individual’s relational, emotional and psychological well-being. Francis Chan did a great job explaining this phenomenon in his book Crazy Love. He explained how his relationship with his earthly father significantly impacted the way he viewed and related with God for several years as a new believer. I could very much relate with Francis when I consider how similar my view of God was in relation to the way I viewed my earthly father. I never really understood why I struggled in this area until I realized that this was a reflection of how I viewed and related to my earthly father. Many Christians have struggles in understanding themselves and their relationship with God and the God attachment theory could give some much needed insight in not only why people act the way they do but also understanding why they view and relate to God the way they do.
It is impressive and exciting that there has been a large amount of research and discoveries in the area of God attachment and its use in therapy. After so much conflict in regards to Religion and Psychology, the God attachment creates somewhat of a union of the two fields. Several new and innovative ways have been created which incorporate the God attachment theory in therapy sessions. Noffke and Hall (2008) illustrated an interesting model of transforming God’s image in therapeutic sessions with clients. I hope there continues to be more influence of God attachment in the world of psychotherapy. It will also be very beneficial for people to become more exposed to the understanding and influence of their personal God attachment.

1 comment:

  1. It would appear that relationships with others, mostly our fathers, impacts our relationships with God. I would be curious to see if this theory also works in the reverse. What if a child never really connects with any human but they go beyond this and connect very closely with God? Would that relationship with God then be spread and reflected in daily living? I understand that even if this does happen it would happen at a far lower rate than God attachment as described here, but it'd be interesting to know that this happens. This kind of reminds me of extreme conversion experiences, where a person who is deep in sin meets God and changes radically. Then they take that relationship with God and reciprocate it to the earth.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.