Sunday, April 2, 2023
Saturday, April 1, 2023
Integral Philosophy, developed by Ken Wilber, outlines a model of human development that includes multiple stages of psychosocial growth. These stages are often referred to as "Integral Stages" and include:
Thursday, June 2, 2022
Martin Butler wrote an interesting article entitled, "Individual Action Can't Solve Social Problems" which appeared in 3quarksdaily.com on May 30, 2022.
Butler's main thesis is that individuals get blamed for their "choices" which has little to do with the existence of the problem. Another way of looking at this is that individual choices are heavily influenced and constrained by social factors. Ignoring the social factors which produce, contribute to, and sustain the individual behavior does little to diminish or eliminate the problem.
I have clients who tell me that people have blamed them for their suffering telling them that the suffering is the result of "bad choices." We like to believe in free will and personal choice but what is the system that decides what choices we have to begin with?
First, to diminish or eliminate social problems people need knowledge and yet they are often kept in the dark and sometimes lied to by the powers that be. Issues get framed as a choice between A and B without making the decider aware that there is also option C, D, and E.
Second, people need to skills. Without appropriate skills and tools and resources you cannot appropriately expect that people can implement a choice even if it is available to them.
Third, people need an opportunity to use their knowledge and skills or the knowledge and skill atrophy from lack of use.
People often come to therapy and they just don't know any better how to deal with the problems in their lives. They have never been made aware of the possibilities. Even if they are aware of the possibilities they don't know how to proceed, how to do what could be done. They need coaching and skill development. They then have to have the opportunity to practice what they have learned about and been coached to deal with.
It is gaslighting then people in power and authority blame individuals for problems as if they are under individual control when the system is rigged for their benefit. These situations create a mystification which is crazy making. What is needed is system change so that individual choices can be beneficial to both the individual and the society.
Problems cannot be solved at an intrapsychic level alone. They also must be approached from the interpersonal and social levels. A person seeking therapy would benefit from seeing a therapist who uses a systemic as well as individual point of view.
Tuesday, May 11, 2021
Book Discussion - Spiritually Integrated Psychotherapy - Bio-psycho-social-spiritual components of human functioning.
Bio-psycho-social-spiritual: the four components of human functioning.
After all, psychology is still a young field, just a little over a hundred years old. And the study of spirituality is even younger, after having been largely neglected by psychologists for many years. My hope is that this work contributes in some way to a more integrated approach to understanding and addressing the spiritual dimension in psychotherapy.
Kenneth I. Pargament PhD. Spiritually Integrated Psychotherapy: Understanding and Addressing the Sacred (Kindle Locations 55-57). Kindle Edition.
Most psychotherapists since the 1970s have been trained in the bio-psyco-social model of human behavior. In the last twenty years “spiritual” has been added so now we have the bio-psycho-social-spiritual model.
All four components of the model explaining human functioning are important. Kenneth Pargament is one of the early pioneering psychologists exploring the spiritual in addition to the other three models.
There is an important distinction to be made between “religious” and “spiritual.” Religious refers to membership in an institution and an ethnocentric identity which involves membership, adherence to creedal beliefs, certain practices and traditions, and respect for expert leaders of the religion as well as for sacred texts.
Spiritual is one’s relationship with one’s Higher Power whatever the person considers their Higher Power to be.
Some people are religious but not spiritual. Some people are spiritual but not religious, and some people are both religious and spiritual.
Being spiritual does not require a belief in a god. In fact many atheists consider themselves spiritual in the sense that they believe in a transcendent reality greater than their own egos if only a belief in the rightness of atheism itself.
One of the important aspects of a psychotherapist’s activity is to try to understand the client’s view of the world. The three major spiritual questions are: why was I born, what is the purpose of my life, what happens when I die? Unless the psychotherapist understands how the client would answer or does answer these three major existential questions, the psychotherapist may not be able to be of much help to the person.
These three questions are not often explicitly stated and discussed, but as the psychotherapist comes to know the client’s story and the client’s situation, an empathic psychotherapist will have a good sense of how the client views themself and the world.
Opening up these questions for exploration and examination may be an important part of any helpful episode of psychotherapy.
Thursday, February 21, 2019
A client visited my office for the first time shortly after the Christmas holidays and found in my waiting room a pamphlet about Advent.
He asked me about half way through our first interview, "Is this a religious place?'
I said surprised, "What?"
"Are you Christian or something?"
I said, "No, this is a private counseling office. I am not religiously affiliated."
"Oh," he said, "Good."
I was still uncertain about what had precipitated his question and concern. Later when I went out to my waiting room, I found the Advent pamphlet and a brochure about marriage encounter, Retrouvaille for couples considering divorce which is run by a Catholic group and wondered whether these materials had contributed to his concern.
I said further to my client that my office is not religiously affiliated, and I don't discuss religion with clients unless they bring it up. He seemed reassured and the topic was dropped and we moved on to other things.
I was trained in the bio-psycho-social model of Dr. George Engel which Dr. Engel developed in the late 60s and early 70s. Since the original formulation some practitioners have added "spiritual" so that we now have the "bio-psycho-social-spiritual" model.
How is spirituality connected to mental health? A great deal of research has demonstrated that people with a spiritual life live longer and happier. This being the case, a good psychotherapist is attentive to the client's spiritual life as the client experiences and conceives it.
Spirituality is different from religion and, while there may be some overlap, are often confused as being the same thing. Religion is about joining an organization and affiliating with some creed or set of beliefs, practices, traditions, norms, and values. Spirituality is about a relationship with a Higher Power whatever the individual understands the Higher Power to be.
I removed the Advent pamphlet from my office waiting room because Advent is over. Will I put another one out there next year? I certainly don't want to offend anyone or give the wrong impression. On the other hand it is a discussion starter which often leads to rich and worthwhile conversations. For now, we are approaching Lent and I probably will not be putting any lenten pamphlets in my waiting room.
Saturday, August 5, 2017
Greg's doctor told him his neurotransmitters were not working properly and were flooded with Serotonin. Whatever the cause, Greg was not feeling much better and decided to see a psychotherapist. The therapist asked Greg after a few meetings if Greg thought that maybe he was suffering from a spiritual problem? Greg responded that he had no idea what the therapist was asking him. What kind of a spiritual problem could it be?
The therapist offered the idea that Greg was dealing with a sense of shame, a sense of innate defectiveness and inadequacy which he tried to overcome by taking care of, what Greg called "love", people so that they would love him back.
Greg acknowledged that this unconscious dynamic may be at play. The therapist then asked Greg where he thought this sense of inadequacy and defectiveness had come from? Greg said he had felt this way since he was a child and his mom and dad divorced when he was three and he missed his father and his mother started drinking and leaving him with a sitter to go out with other men. Greg said that he always wished his mom and dad loved him more and were there for him. He found that by being very good and trying to be helpful seemed to make his mom and dad like him better. Greg said that maybe his whole life was based on a belief that if he was nice to people they would like him so he has striven his whole life to be what his best friend called "being a people pleaser."
The therapist suggested that his whole life has been based on this belief that he is inadequate and defective in some way and that he would be all alone unless he was able to take care of and please other people. The therapist asked if this was the basis of his "love" for Andrea? Now that she was more secure and confident rather than being happy for her, Greg was getting fearful and depressed believing that Andrea wouldn't need him any more and leave him?
Greg started to cry and said, "I'm really messed up, aren't I?"
The therapist said, "Not at all. You are perfect just the way you are, you're just learning that Life wants you to be happy and have a high quality life just because you are alive and part of this wonderful universe."
Greg smiled and said, "Thank you."
The spiritual problem is one of shame which is the innate belief and feeling that we are inadequate and defective in some way. Further we think that it is only a matter or time and circumstances before this supposed fact comes to light and we are found out to be the shameful creatures which we believe we are. As Christians tell us we all our sinners if not for what we have done, at least because of the sin of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden for which Jesus died on the cross to assuage the anger of the Father God who is mad about our disobedience.
This belief in our sinful natures which requires sacrifice and suffering for exoneration and redemption is the Great Lie of the ego. The spiritual fact is that God loves us unconditionally and it is we, humans, who create our own guilt and hell because we have separated ourselves from the unconditional love of God by our willfulness and drama.
If we could overcome and rise above our own drama, we could create heaven on earth. Greg has created his own hell believing that he is unworthy and can only be whole if he sacrifices and suffers, what he calls "love.". Nothing could be further from the Truth and it is Greg's false spiritual belief which has placed him in his own hell. Heaven, however, is within his grasp once he realizes that he is okay and will be okay just the way he is. He is loved by his Creator.