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Spirituality in Therapy - Essay Example

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This paper discusses Relational Ethics of Care along the spirituality in therapy of Francoise Dolto and James Olthuis. To set a background Sigmund Freud is the pioneering psychoanalyst who introduced the intra-psychic therapeutic method of free association…
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Spirituality in Therapy

Through the years, Psychoanalytic Therapy has evolved dramatically, seeking more effective ways to bring reconstruction to patients from personality conflicts. Among these is Humanistic Therapy which sees the patient as a human being with an innate positive drive for a better life. Dolto and Olthuis adopt humanistic therapy with the addition of Christian spirituality concepts which this paper attempts to discuss. As practicing Christian, Francoise Dolto brought ideas from Christianity into her clinical practice. Dolto was influenced by the Humanism of French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan, who stressed the need for psychologists to recognize the religious depths of personality in the human person. Adopting Lacan’s insights on the religious personality, Dolto gave importance to the spiritual-psychological dialectic of the “I” and the “me” of the human person (Slattery,2002). Beyond Lacan, however, Dolto focused more on the spiritual dialectic with the client finding joy and desire to strive for meaning in his life through Gospel truths. In her clinical practice, Dolto worked along an ethics of desire for a loving relationship in the patient. Her therapeutic process consisted in freeing an innate frozen human desire—structured by the Creator-- to rise up towards relational cohesion with all created beings. During the spiritual dialectic, Dolto the therapist helped the patient to project this innate desire onto others consonant with a capacity to love. For Dolto, the Gospel can be instrumental to this spiritual dialectic since it is the seat of Christ’s teachings on compassionate love and openness to others, exemplified by Jesus’ story about the Good Samaritan. Dolto believes that if compassionate love fills the world, man can free its innate desire for the cohesion of all of humankind. Meanwhile, James Olthuis in his writings harps on a Christian way of therapy through a relational dialectic between therapist and client. Understandably reflective of his career as a philosophical theologian, Olthuis chose Christian Love as the basic theme of his book the Beautiful Risk (Oltuis, 2001). His actual therapeutic methodology is scientific and objective, since he as an analyst related to his clients with clinical skills, but at the same time he filled himself with sensitivity and honesty sourced from Christian compassion. Through the dimension of his Christian faith, Olthuis has enriched the humanist’s view of self-actualization mediated by Christian care, connection, partnership and love. Impact of spirituality in therapy Given the relational spiritual dialectic of Dolto, my therapeutic practice can gain a deeper dimension by including God in my therapy work. To reflect on my education, I was taught therapeutic practice mainly along scientific concepts and procedures. Faith is understandably not within the purview of psychological education and training. I have even observed, for example, that clinicians remove from patients all items of faith like crucifixes, rosaries and prayer books prior to treatment or confinement. Dolto, however, makes a radical move as she showed that the path to cure is a deeper dialectic, the spiritual one encompassing the scientific efforts in helping a patient. Complementing this is Olthuis’ idea of professional practice that is imbued with Christian care, connection, partnership and love. Given Dolto’s and Olthuis’ religious perspectives, I believe I can now see my patients in a new light, specifically as seekers of meaning and cohesion within themselves and harmony with life. On their part, clients will see freedom at the end of the tunnel of their entrapment with complex biological, psychic and social forces that complicate their lives. As a therapist, I am both a ... Read More
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