INTRODUCING PSYCHE

On a weekly basis, starting today, I will post a blog that speaks to the intersection of mental health and religion/spirituality. I have been a practicing pastoral counselor for more than thirty years, with dual masters degrees in social work and divinity (degree for preparation of ordained protestant ministry).

Interestingly, the origins of psychology are rooted in the Greek word, psyche. According to the on-line Free Dictionary (http://www.thefreedictionary.com),

Psyche is “a young woman who loved and was loved by Eros and was united with him after Aphrodite's jealousy was overcome. She subsequently became the personification of the “soul.” Thus, psyche is the etymology of the word “psychology.” The word has clear ancient understandings that point to the ancient religious and spiritual constructs of  “spirit” and “soul” that are contained in ancient texts, including sacred texts, such as the Bible. When psychology and psychiatry emerged as disciplines in the 19th and 20th centuries, the early theorists and practitioners often had divorced themselves from the ancient spiritual roots.

The history of the split between religion and social science is far too complex for this discussion.  However, I am proud to say that the early late 19th century social workers in the United States had their origins in religious life. The profession of social work then and now is based on the core value of doing justice and valuing with equality people of all creeds, ethnic groups, racial groups, and sexual orientations (http://www.socialworkers.org/pubs/code). Needless to say the debates between the role of religion and spirituality in the mental health disciplines (e.g. social work, psychology, psychiatry, marriage and family counseling) continue to wax and wane in history. At this point in history, the secular practitioners and theorists now recognize the need to reconnect “spirit” to psychology. In recent years there has been a plethora of literature on the integration of psychology and spirituality/religion, and courses in mental health training programs. Those of us who are clinicians with a particular religious orientation, we have already known the importance of integrating psychology and spirituality and even religion in our work. 

When it is all said and done, I guess it’s about time I enter into the world of bloggers with a voice that will explore issues in both the social work and ministerial fields, as it pertains to the well being of individuals in our society. I will write at times about pertinent news stories either worldwide or domestically, as they impact upon the mental and spiritual/religious health of the clients that I treat. I will write at times about important developments in the psychological and social work communities. Perhaps at times I will write about extraordinary experiences that I encounter in my daily work. I am certain that these will be stories of mission work, stories of local church work, stories of healing, and stories of remarkable resiliency and strength.