The practice of psychotherapy and Catholicism may sound incompatible, but for some experts in the field it’s their mission.
Some 300 Catholic psychotherapists across the nation will explore Church teaching on the whole person and learn to apply it to therapy at the next Catholic Psychotherapist Association conference Oct. 23-25 in Arlington, Va.
Association president Christina Lynch, director of psychological services at St. John Vianney Theological Seminary, said the conference will be a tribute to Blessed Pope John Paul II who made significant contributions to the understanding of Catholic anthropology, including through theology of the body.
His teachings impact their mission to treat the whole person—physically, mentally and spiritually.
“Psychology that’s practiced from Catholic anthropology is about the whole person,” Lynch said. “As Catholic psychologists what distinguishes us is we’re not about just removing symptoms. We’re about going to the root of what’s happening in a person’s life that may be driving their behaviors or driving their irrational thoughts so that Jesus can heal.”
John Paul II will be the focus of keynote speaker George Weigel’s talk at the conference. The senior fellow of the Ethics and Public Policy Center and Denver Catholic Register syndicated columnist will discuss “Witness to Hope: John Paul II in perspective.”
Other speakers include Father Peter Ryan, executive director of the Secretariat of Doctrine for the U.S. bishop’s conference, Andrew Sodergren, clinical psychologist at Ruah Woods, Su Li Lee, licensed clinical psychologist, and Philip Scrofani, director of the psychology program at The Catholic University of America.
The conference kicks off with a spiritual experience. Attendees will tour the Basilica of the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, attend an opening Mass celebrated by Arlington’s Bishop Paul Loverde and join for confession and the rosary.
Attendees will also have an opportunity to network, Lynch said.
Through community and conferences, the association aims to better educate psychotherapists on how to integrate their faith.
“Our mission as a Catholic psychotherapist association is to help peers in the field, who were trained from a secular perspective, learn how to integrate their faith and how to understand their faith better, so it can become a part of their practice and they can help their people,” Lynch said.
The association has some 300 members, about 25 of which live in Colorado. The conference is open to clergy, religious, vocations director, students and the public. The 2011 conference was held in Denver.
For more information, visit www.catholicpsychotherapy.org.
2014 Catholic Psychotherapy Conference
Theme: “Witnesses to Hope: Catholic Anthropology as the Foundation for Psychological Practice”
When: Oct. 23-25
Where: Hilton Crystal City at the Washington Reagan National Airport, 2399 Jefferson Davis Highway, Arlington, Va.
Cost: Members $220, non-members $275, students and clergy $100. George Weigel’s talk for non-participants is $125.