Stages of Faith

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Whenever I meet a new client, after they’ve told me about the problem that brings them to see me, I’ll ask if the problem has a spiritual dimension. Often, this gets us to the heart of the matter.

Most people answer by telling me the name of their religion, or lack thereof. I’m more interested in how they talk about it than what they say. How they talk about spiritual matters reveals the stage of development of their faith; and faith, broadly speaking, affects everything.

Faith changes and matures, just like everything else. If your understanding of God is the same now as you had in Sunday school, when He may have been presented in a cartoonish, oversimplified way, then you’re arrested in your development, whether you believe in that cartoonish, oversimplified god, or not. The old, bearded man in a cloud, strictly enforcing rules, and punishing your enemies may be a meaningful image for first graders, but it’s a problematic one for adults. Continue reading

Therapy and Spirituality

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I recently read and was asked to review Eastern Wisdom Western Soul by Richard Singer. It got me thinking about how us shrinks handle spirituality. There are basically three ways. We can, a) ignore it and pretend it doesn’t matter; b) help the client work through what

they’ve been taught till they arrive at beliefs and practices that work for them; or c) indoctrinate the client in something new. Eastern Wisdom Western Soul is an example of the choice C. I liked the book, but I’m skeptical that it’s the right way to go. Continue reading