Hi i am currently studying psychology at uni and plan to be either a clinical psychologist or Organisational psychologist one day.
I was wondering (from those who are psychologists) how you approach the situations in sessions that may not agree with or conflict with your catholic faith? And counsel people who may not hold the same religious values or other religious views to your own? would you just palm them off? (I don’t necessarily like this idea)
I only ask this as i read an article by a catholic psychologist pretty much ditching psychology saying that it concentrated too much on self-actualisation and self fulfilment. I on the other hand thought it was more about dealing with people who have such low levels and problems that they may need a boost in these areas to bring them back to some sense of normality. would psychology in this sense be wrong?
Especially if i want to go into organisational psychology since it stresses trying to work out the best possible way to motivate people to be their optimum performance.
Just as there is truth in secular science, there is a lot of truth in secular psychology. It does take discernment to separate the wheat from the chaff, though.
For example, all of us are influenced by experiences from our formative years, especially childhood. That’s not rocket science, and you don’t necessarily need to subscribe to what Freud said to make use of that principle in counselling.
For another example, our past relationships strongly influence the way we relate to others in future. You don’t have to call it “transference”, but the phenomenon exists, and it’s something that must often be handled or overcome in a counselling situation.
Most psychological theories (especially dynamic ones) arose from one-on-one, therapist-client situations, so it’s natural that they stress the “self” and “self-fulfillment”. You don’t necessarily need to subscribe to that, as many other psychological methods (Beck’s cognitive theory, for example, or Bowlby’s attachment theory) also deal with our relationships with others and how to work on them. For example, Beck’s “Love Is Never Enough” is a secular book, but it’s a very good guide for couples with marital problems.
Be careful about psychologists who have New Age leanings, because their theories are both scientifically and theologically problematic.
Also, steer clear of Protestant anti-psychologists like Jay Adams (whom I read for entertainment, not instruction) and their bizarre “interpretations” of both the Bible and mental illness. If you’re interested in Catholic psychology, Conrad Baars is someone you ought to look up.
This article from a Catholic perspective you may find interesting. The problem may not rest so much with the patient, but with principles of the therapist who finds himself in a religious context. The Faithful are to consider their Catholic faith as the only true Faith, and all means are to salvific ends if the case be terminal, and guidance in a holy life if not. The therapist should broach the subject in any way possible; actfully,strategically,etc the state of remorse and contrition, or at least, urge him to receive this therapy from a priest.