Benefits of Spiritual Practices in Psychotherapy: An Idea Whose Time Has Come!
“The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you really are.” Carl Jung
My last blog discussed how spiritual practices that are suggested in the 12 step programs of recovery are extremely important in achieving long-term recovery. This blog builds on the idea of how spiritual practices also contribute significantly to successful psychotherapy outcomes.
When I became a therapist many years ago, spiritual practices being used in mainstream psychotherapy was considered taboo. Fast forward to the early 2000’s when spiritual practices in our daily lives had become common place. Researchers became interested in investigating the possibility of spirituality benefiting counseling practice as well. The evidence-based research and my experience using it in my own practice have led me to conclude that clients often benefit greatly when their therapists include it in their treatment.
Much to my joy spiritual practices are now seen as important in counseling. These scientific discoveries suggest its time to focus further on how combining spiritual practice with psychotherapy increases positive outcomes. The findings suggest that there are certain types of spiritual practices that have positive affect on mental and physical health. Psychotherapists now need to consider how they can integrate spiritually into their service offerings.
For the purpose of this discussion, the definition of spirituality is simply any activity or ritual that has the goal to increase a connection with a higher power. This definition is relevant whether it’s in a spiritual program such as the 12 steps or in a specific religious framework. My professional opinion is that both rituals in religious ceremonies and spiritual processes meet the definition of spirituality.
What Are These Spiritual Interventions?
Not in any order of importance, the list of the spiritual practices includes prayer, hypnosis, meditation, mindfulness training, introspection, reading spiritual texts, attending classes provided by an expert, support groups, volunteerism, charity work, exercise to create forgiveness, gratitude, kindness and acceptance.
The spiritual interventions that are proving to be helpful in mainstream psychotherapy have expanded greatly in the last 20 years. Some have been integrated into existing psychotherapy applications. Others have sprung up in new schools of thought in psychotherapy such as Positive Psychology.
They include but not limited to:
Hypnosis and mindfulness for activating intuition, self-care and resilience. Rapid Resolution Therapy to resolve Trauma and create inner peace. Positive Psychology interventions that focus on developing hope, courage, meaning and purpose. Prayer and meditation to enhance connect with our higher power. Cognitive behavior therapy focused on changing negative thought patterns and substituting positive thought patterns with a spiritual component. Yoga combined with meditation for inner peace and activating resilience and intuition. New Age thinking about karma and the belief that our attitude predicts what we will receive back from others. Therapeutic breath work and expressive therapy such as Gestalt and Psychodrama that increase self-esteem and assertiveness while helping re-integrate parts of our personalities that have been split off due to trauma. All these techniques share the goal of enhancing physical and mental health while enabling us to thrive with meaning and purpose.
My practice incorporates many spiritual rituals combined with expertise in addiction counseling, family and group counseling, cognitive behavior therapy, trauma therapy, therapeutic breath work, hypnosis and mindfulness. When approaching helping somebody who’s in recovery or other individuals who want help with a mental health concern, the integration between spirituality and psychotherapy presents the best empirical and ethical approach to helping people heal.
If you or a loved one may be struggling with addiction, it is very important for you to seek out professional help as soon as possible. Please do not hesitate to reach out to me if I may be of assistance to you or your loved ones. My website provides more information on my practice and how to contact me with questions or take advantage of a free 20-minute phone appointment.
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