Center for Psychotherapy and Spirituality
William James College is pleased to announce the launch of a new educational initiative, the Center for Psychotherapy and Spirituality, led by Dr. John McDargh, Associate Professor of Theology at Boston College.
The purposes of our Center for Psychotherapy and Spirituality are
- to bring together on a regular basis professionals and professionals-in-training who are interested in studying the incorporation of spirituality into professional psychological practices;
- to facilitate discussions related to the integration of spirituality and professional psychological practice among students, faculty, and external personnel who offer particular expertise related to this area; and
- to work with the Continuing Education Division to plan/offer periodic professional development workshops/seminars on topics related to the integration of spirituality and professional psychological practice.
In many respects while the Center is new, it is actually a way of providing a more intentional institutional focus on a set of professional concerns in the practice of psychotherapy that has engaged William James College faculty and students from the very foundation of the school. Beginning with William James College’s second Chair of the Board of Trustees, Sister Margaret Gorman, RSCJ, PhD who taught the psychology of religious development at Boston College, many William James College faculty over the years have been professionally interested in how psychotherapy might responsibly integrate into a serious attention to how human persons make ultimate meaning in terms of their sense of connection to some greater order of being or reality. For some this sense of relationship might be religiously based and symbolized. For others it is no less existentially significant but can be referred to, if at all, only in highly personal ways particular to the individual.
Over the years many William James College doctoral students have been supported in doing creative research on topics that critically engage the dimension of spirituality in clinical psychology by faculty such as Dr. Hilary Bender. Additionally there have been clinicians who like Dr. Gorman have not formally been part of the faculty but who have been dedicated to the school and have had the vision to see the importance of a serious, critical attention to this dimension of therapeutic practice. Dr. Stanley Rosenzweig is an inspiring example of the latter. Serving as first chairman of the Board and head of the Education Committee for many years, he has tirelessly promoted continuing educational programs, study groups, seminars and conferences that have encouraged William James College faculty, students, alumni and area clinicians to wrestle with the important philosophical, ethical and praxis questions that this interface requires.
In 2005 William James College, for example, sponsored a morning long discussion on “The Connection Between Spirituality and Mental Health” and in 2007 a day-long conference addressing “The Place of Spirituality in Psychotherapy” that brought together clinicians from a range of psychological and spiritual traditions to dialogue with one another on this topic. There have also been numbers of continuing education programs engaging various aspects of this conversation from Buddhist, Christian and Jewish perspectives. After a long planning effort on the part of therapists organized at William James College as the “Psychotherapy and Spirituality Initiative”, in Fall 2009, for the first time William James College added a formal course in this area, Spiritually Oriented Psychotherapies (HU 535).
The Center’s Advisory Committee, with representation from William James College faculty, students, administration, alumni and experienced clinicians in the Boston area, look forward to developing the Center.