Rash Judgement


I am a 68-year-old cradle Catholic who has put a lot of effort into trying to make sure my beliefs are in agreement with those of the Catholic Church. I believe in going by the teaching Magisterium of the church. I have watched the pendulum swing back and forth on different issues I know my home spun notions are not necessarily accurate even when the rest of the culture seems to think the same thing.

Part of the reason why is I have put so much thought and effort into all of this is that I had the bad experience of folks I trusted and looked up to finding out I was seeing a psychiatrist and worrying me that my faith was not authentic.

Because I had experience with therapy back in the 1960s, I have some opinions that some in the church are confused by the fact that psychology is a different point of view that seems at times to be in disagreement with religion but really is not.

Some of this confusion is caused by the fact that therapists seem to follow rules where they try to not agree or disagree with any beliefs a person has about anything not connected with psychology.
What they do about it is sometimes gives the impression they are disagreeing with the patient’s beliefs or opinions.

For example mention of doing penance is likely to cause the therapist to explore the possibility something about this might be unhealthy. When they do so they are officially neither agreeing nor disagreeing with the patient’s beliefs about penance.

If anybody who gets told about it assumes and the patient has been diagnosed to be over doing the idea of penance they are wrong. There is no such diagnosis in psychology for one thing. If the therapist thinks any such thing he never says so. He is trained to not express his personal opinions about something not having to do with psychology

The public needs to realize that they have absolutely no business deciding that penance is unhealthy activity because of how someone’s therapist behaved about it.

They are mistaken if they think that in any official capacity any therapist disagreed with the beliefs in the church.

Even if it was obvious that such an expert did not agree with the churches’ beliefs personally and that was not his professional opinion. Nor do people have any right to decide that the individual whose therapist behaved that way is messed up about the subject and treat them accordingly.


Psychologists and psychiatrists contribute to the understanding of human nature, whose goals are in parallel with Christianity. But when it comes to matters of faith, such as penance, you keep that between you and the priest, and leave the therapist in the sphere where they belong, unless the therapist is well aware of the benefits of healthy penance. I doubt this is often the case, unless there is some question as to the hidden motives for ones religious beliefs. In that case, therapists can help steer one to an authentic faith, but that, again, is not their feild of expertise.

A therapist cannot give absolution, but absolution is often the very therapy one needs to resolve an issue.

Therapy can compliment absolution, and should never be discarded completely when people are faced with compicated life issues that a priest may not be equipped to deal with.


Hi Tabitha! Welcome to CAF!

As someone who has been in therapy for 20 years and who BELIEVES completely in the PROCESS of psychotherapy, I can say that my experiences are split on this issue. I have had some who were respectful of the line between psychotherapy and faith and others who have questioned my reasoning capabilities for being a believer.

The therapist I was with for 14 years was a fallen away Catholic. At the time I started seeing her, I was as well. We actually bonded over our anti-Catholicism. By the time I stopped seeing her, we had a little problem on our hands as I had reverted fervently back to the faith and she seemed to think I had lost my mind. I know my situation is unique and not representative of the therapuetic experience, but there are therapists who are so steeped in secular pop psychology that the concept of living by Catholic principles sets off alarms for them.


I think doing penance was something I was not into as a young person. I gave up candy for Lent along with the other kids but as a teenager in the early 1950s was influenced by pop-psychology to feel doing penance was unhealthy. I on the other hand had a devotion to the Morning Offering. The idea of offering up the work I did each day to God, who I had a big teenage crush on, caused me to do work that folks deemed to be unnecessary. Those who sent me to therapy had it that my efforts in that regard were tied to lots of unhealthy quilt feelings.

I did not share about my crush on God with the psychiatrist I was sent to because I sensed the he had an attitude about such things that was like the college psychology students I was going to school with at the time. They would argue that to have a crush on God was kind of psychotic since the idea of God might just be something cooked up by the human imagination. Psychology students with that belief had attended Catholic school with me.

I may not have connected offering up your work as a gift to God and then making a point of doing a good job with doing penance or talked about the Catholic beliefs about penance with the psychiatrist but I was dealing with theories about why I was that way that left out what my real spiritual motivation was. I was instead supposed to be motivated by “too much guilt.”

It is for example maybe considered to be crazy for me to pick up the trash in a vacant lot that does not belong to me. Or take the trouble to return to the store freezer something some customer discarded and left any old place to spoil when it is not my job as a customer to care.

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