Managing Religious Conflict in Therapy

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Running Head: MANAGING RELIGIOUS CONFLICT Managing Religious Conflict within Psychotherapy Ryan Hagen UMASS Lowell Abstract This paper discusses the relationship of religion and psychology within the setting of interpersonal dynamic psychotherapy. It raises the question of whether and to what extent religion should be included in a therapeutic setting. Varying perspectives on this issue are reviewed, followed by an examination of the consequences of addressing religion within therapy. Several examples are offered of potential pit falls a therapist may encounter in this situation as well as suggestions for minimizing the likelihood of these occurrences. Two models are included which provide frameworks for assessing the degree…show more content…
In 1989, Richards, in a study of 100 Mormon patients, found that they were more trusting of therapists who disclosed a belief in god. A lot of this depends on the patient. Quackenbos (et al 1986) outlined four viewpoints or degrees of involvement a person may have with their religion, and how it is used to interpret mental health. The four viewpoints are orthodox, moderate, neutralist and atheistic. These lay on a continuum, where those with orthodox viewpoints believe mental problems are caused by sin, and on the other end, atheistic sees mental problems as purely psychological. Another framework was proposed by Batson and Ventis (1982). They argued that a therapist’s need to understand the different ways of being religious in order to understand the impact that religion may or may not have on their patient. They created their framework around 3 dimensions, each of which has it’s own continuum. The 3 dimensions are quest, ends and means. The ‘quest’ continuum measures the degree of importance the individual places on existential questions, but does not necessarily feel an urgency to have answered. An example of this would be an agnostic, or a philosopher who enjoys the process of examining these kinds of questions. A person on the high end of this continuum would tend to have doubts about religion, and be tentative about religious viewpoints. The ‘means’ continuum
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