The meanings and uses of spirituality from secular therapy to spiritual therapy
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The Meanings and Uses of Spirituality: From secular therapy to spiritual therapy?. Professor Gordon Lynch Department of Religious Studies University of Kent. ‘This is me…’. (ed.) Clinical Counselling in Pastoral Settings, Routledge, 1999. Pastoral Care and Counselling, Sage, 2002.

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The Meanings and Uses of Spirituality: From secular therapy to spiritual therapy?

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The meanings and uses of spirituality from secular therapy to spiritual therapy

The Meanings and Uses of Spirituality:From secular therapy to spiritual therapy?

Professor Gordon Lynch

Department of Religious Studies

University of Kent


This is me

‘This is me…’

(ed.) Clinical Counselling in Pastoral Settings,

Routledge, 1999.

Pastoral Care and Counselling, Sage, 2002.


The meanings and uses of spirituality from secular therapy to spiritual therapy

Understanding Theology and

Popular Culture, Blackwell, 2005.

The Sacred in the Modern World,

Oxford University Press, 2012.


From secular therapy

From secular therapy….


To spiritual therapy

to spiritual therapy…?

Increasing attention to issues of religion and spirituality within the mainstream of counselling and psychotherapy


To spiritual therapy1

to spiritual therapy…?

the rise of more explicitly religious/spiritual therapeutic models and organizations


To spiritual therapy2

to spiritual therapy…?

the emergence of more explicit religious and spiritual critiques of secular therapeutic models


The collapse of confident narratives of secularization

The collapse of confident narratives of secularization

1966 1995


The return of the repressed the 1960 s and all that

The return of the repressed:the 1960’s and all that…

The rise of the holistic milieu/alternative spiritualities, the incorporation of counselling and psychotherapy into pastoral care, and the backlash of conservative religious sub-cultures


What the story excludes

What the story excludes…

  • the role of counselling and psychotherapy in the secularization of pastoral care

    ‘Usually few of those undergoing [theological] training have sufficient knowledge of psychology, especially in its application to themselves, and fewer still can grasp that acceptance of the knowledge of man [sic] that has come through psychology makes inevitable an alteration in emphasis in religious teaching and in some aspects the modification or jettisoning of some commonly taught theological doctrines or religious attitudes.’

    R.S. Lee, Principles of Pastoral Counselling, p.5.


What the story excludes1

What the story excludes…

  • the aversion of pastoral theologians to the incorporation of counselling and psychotherapy into the theology and practice of pastoral care

    ‘An accredited hierarchical pastoral movement will be professional, problem solving or problem preventing, standardized and defined. What is required is pastoral care which is lay, corporate, adventurous, variegated and diffuse… [T]he pastoral counselling movement… must be seen as part of a too general assumption by society… that we come to the good life by delineating problems and then either avoiding them or solving them.’

    Bob Lambourne, 1971,

    ‘Objections to a National Pastoral Organization’


The meanings and uses of spirituality from secular therapy to spiritual therapy

An alternative narrative:locating secular, religious and spiritual forms of therapy in a broader social context

  • Therapy and spirituality as both expressions of wider processes of individualization

  • ‘Spirituality’ emerging as significant in specific professional contexts

  • The open market-place of care generating conflicts over knowledge, healing and power

  • Secular and religious forms of therapy and the sacralization of humanity


Individualization

Individualization

  • Rapid social change and movement, changing structures of the work-place, and the institutional framing of people as consumers creates the sense of being a choosing individual with responsibility for one’s own well-being

  • Therapy and spirituality as expressions of the kind of resource to which people turn as non-authoritative guides


The professional contexts for spirituality

The professional contexts for ‘spirituality’

  • ‘Spirituality’ does not have a single, consistent meaning

  • The growth of interest in ‘spirituality’ in specific professional/disciplinary contexts needs to be understood in relation to that context rather than assuming it to be a mere symptom of a broader ‘spirituality revolution’


An open market place of care

An open market-place of care

Healing practices are always linked to knowledge claims which legitimate those practices. In a more open market-place of care, knowledge claims (including religious and secular knowledge claims) are more fiercely contested.


The sacralization of humanity

The sacralization of humanity


The meanings and uses of spirituality from secular therapy to spiritual therapy

  • Understanding the significance of broader social and cultural change, whilst avoiding simplistic narratives

  • Attending to specific histories and ‘meso’-level contexts

  • Seeing beyond simply conflicts between religious and spiritual therapy to the structures and changes that shape both


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