"Theistic psychology and psychotherapy": A theological and scientific critique

Zygon 45 (1):47-74 (2010)
I take the APA publication A Spiritual Strategy for Counseling and Psychotherapy (Richards and Bergin 2005), along with a devoted issue of Journal of Psychology and Theology (Nelson and Slife 2006), as a paradigmatic example of a trend. Other instances include the uncritical use of "Eastern" philosophy in Humanistic and Transpersonal Psychology, almost normative appeal to the "Sacred" within the psychology of spirituality, talk of "God in the brain" within neurological research, the neologism entheogen referring to psychedelic drugs, and calls for new specializations such as neurotheology and theobiology. In response to the legitimate ethical requirements of respect and openness regarding clients' religious worldviews, the trend is to make God an essential component in psychological theory. The argument is that God is active in the universe and especially in human affairs to such an extent that any accurate account of strictly psychological matters, not just a comprehensive, interdisciplinary purview that could include a distinct theological dimension, must include God as an explanatory factor. Less nuanced than standard theological thought about divine intervention—including a range of opinions from supernaturalism, to occasionalism, to providential and deistic naturalism—this trend would blur the epistemological differences between religion and science by appeal to claimed knowledge sources such as inspiration and revelation and thus undermine the achievements of evidence-based science and establish particularistic religious beliefs as standard explanatory accounts. The concern to include a spiritual, in contrast to a religious or theist, dimension in psychological theory is welcome; but elaborated approaches, such as my own and those of Roberto Assagioli, Viktor Frankl, and Ken Wilber, open to varied theological applications, already exist.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 9,360
External links
  • Through your library Configure
    References found in this work BETA

    View all 10 references

    Citations of this work BETA

    No citations found.

    Similar books and articles
    Jon Avery (1993). Three Types of American Neo-Pragmatism. Journal of Philosophical Research 18:1-13.
    David R. Harrington (2000). Levinas, Theistic Language, and Psychology. Philosophy in the Contemporary World 7 (1):53-58.

    Monthly downloads

    Added to index


    Total downloads

    80 ( #13,409 of 1,089,053 )

    Recent downloads (6 months)

    38 ( #1,813 of 1,089,053 )

    How can I increase my downloads?

    My notes
    Sign in to use this feature

    Start a new thread
    There  are no threads in this forum
    Nothing in this forum yet.