Understanding Religion and Spirituality in Clinical
Church Times Bookshop £14.60 (Use code
THIS excellent volume is one of a series of clinical-practice
monographs from the Society of Analytical Psychology.
The series is aimed at students on psychotherapy and
psychodynamic-counselling courses. Traditionally, these courses
have tended to exclude training about the religious and spiritual
dimensions encountered in therapy. This has been largely due to the
repercussions of the quarrel between Freud and Jung about the
importance of religion. Since then, Jungians have been loyal to
their founder's views, but other classical psychoanalytically based
trainings have continued Freud's secular focus.
This helps to explain why some Christians are wary of entering
into psychotherapy as a patient. As a consequence, churches have
often favoured those in-house practitioners who may lack rigorous
training. Meanwhile, attitudes have changed within classical
psychoanalysis, and Clark's book is a welcome sign of the attention
increasingly given to religion and spirituality in mainstream
The book comprises eight chapters, of which the first two
summarise the impact of Freud and Jung. The following two look at
the way in which we form our image of God, and Winnicott's
overturning of Freud's negative view of illusion. Three succeeding
chapters enable clinicians to discern the significance of different
types of spiritual phenomena. The final chapter looks briefly at
New Age spirituality and fundamentalism, including that of some
therapists. Throughout the book, theoretical points are illustrated
by appropriate clinical material drawn from an amalgam of
experiences with different people.
Clark paints on the broad canvas of religion and spirituality,
that is, the human experience of believing or not believing in a
"God" of any kind. She considers how people's spiritual needs can
be helped or hindered by the kind of religious beliefs they hold.
She reflects on how therapists work with the psychological and
spiritual relevance of such choices, and with belief and
non-belief, in order to be as useful to their patients as they are
in other areas.
This is a timely and well-researched monograph, which could
usefully become required reading for all those wanting to practise
pastoral care in a professional way, whether in a secular or
The Revd Anne Holmes, a former NHS mental-health chaplain,
is a psychotherapist and self-supporting minister in Oxford