Why Only Christian Psychologists Can Practice "True Psychology" Dissertation or Thesis complete

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Soul: Why Only Christian Psychologists Can Practice "True Psychology"

Today, there are more than one hundred thousand licensed psychologists practicing in the United States. These mental health professionals are in a unique position to provide individuals, groups, and American society with valuable counseling services for a wide range of mental health issues and mental disorders. This study uses a triangulated research approach to demonstrate that true psychology can be done only by Christians since only Christians have the resources that are needed to understand and transform the soul in healing ways. The first leg of the research approach consists of a review of the relevant literature, the second leg consists of a custom survey of 25 practicing American psychologists, and the final leg of the triangulated research approach consists of an exegetical analysis of relevant biblical verses concerning the human soul and its relevance for mental health professionals. Finally, a summary of the research and important findings in support of the foregoing proposition are presented in the study's concluding chapter.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Introduction

Statement of the Problem

Purpose of the Study

Research Question

Importance of the Study

Rationale of the Study

Overview of the Study

Chapter 2: Review of Related Literature

Overview of "True Psychology"

Christian Dogma and the Human Soul

The "Fruit of the Spirit"


Chapter 3: Methodology

Description of the Study Approach

Data-gathering Method and Database of Study

Chapter 4: Data Analysis

Chapter 5: Summary and Conclusions

Chapter 1: Introduction

Today, psychologists practice in a wide range of fields and are in a unique position to provide valuable services to individuals, groups, and society (Vallis, 1996). Through the judicious application of their scientific and applied skills, psychologists are also in a position to develop innovative interventions and best practices that can be used by other clinicians to help individuals, groups and society at large (Vallis, 1996). These contributions have become even more important in recent years as the demand for health care reform has created the need for more cost-effective clinical approaches to the resolution of a wide range of mental health issues and mental disorders (Vallis, 1996).

The American Psychological Association's Center for Workforce Studies estimates that there are currently more than 100,000 practicing psychologists in the United States, and current estimates of religious affiliation for Americans means that the overwhelming majority of these practitioners are Christians. At present, California (17,890) New York (12,020) and Pennsylvania (5,620) have the most licensed psychologists, while Wyoming (170), South Dakota (190) and Alaska (190) have the fewest (How many psychologists are licensed in the United States?, 2014). As will be discussed further in chapter two, a majority of these psychologist and the American population (perhaps as high as 80%) hold at least a nominal Christian worldview.

Statement of the Problem

Although there is no religious restriction on the practice of psychology, by definition, the practice of psychology involves understanding and transforming the soul. For example, the word "psychology" is derived from two terms, study (ology) and soul (psyche) or mind (Zimmer, 2013). This definition of psychology, though, has changed in substantive ways over the past several decades to reflect its efforts to assume the qualities of a real science, including using the scientific method to help clients resolve their mental health issues and mental disorders (Zimmer, 2013). The transition of psychology from a practice or study into a science has meant that virtually anyone who is otherwise qualified can become a licensed psychologist in the United States irrespective of their religious affiliation. As will be demonstrated in this study, though, true psychology can be done only by Christians since only Christians have the resources that are needed to understand and transform the soul in healing ways, an eventuality that directly relates to the purpose of this study which is described below.

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of this study was to provide a review of the relevant literature in support of the assertion that true psychology (i.e., "the study of the soul") can be done only by Christians since only Christians have the resources for understanding and transforming the soul.

Research Question

This study was guided by the overarching research question, "Do practitioners have to be Christian in order to practice true psychology?"

Importance of the Study

Properly applied, psychology offers numerous benefits for individuals and society. Moreover, by refocusing the discipline on its original intent, the study of the soul, Christian psychologists can provide counseling services that are transformative
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in nature, effecting lasting positive changes in people's lives. For instance, according to Pan and Liang-Yu (2013), "Christian faith, as well as spiritual resources, used properly and ethically, could have contributions to the science of psychology" (p. 147). Conversely, psychologists from other faiths may fail to integrate the study of the soul into their practice in ways that fail to provide optimal clinical outcomes. As Pan and Liang-Yu (2013) emphasize, "Contextually, psychology and [Christianity] have common concerns and elements of focus such as humanity, purpose, meaning, the human soul, emotions, the mind, human behavior, philosophical perspectives on suffering, goodness, badness, and human potential" (p. 147). In sum, the importance of this study directly relates to the respective efficacy of psychology as practiced by Christians compared to non-Christians.

Rationale of the Study

All religions reflect a desire to better understand the universal human condition that can help psychologists recognize that other religions, such as Buddhists, Sikhs, and Muslims, apply their values and traditions to cope with the exigencies that are inevitable in life as well as in searching for spiritual truth (Gottlieb, 2002). Nevertheless, the argument can be made that only Christians are capable of practicing "true psychology" because of the Christian concept of the human soul and its relationship to mental well-being. This is not to say of course that other religions do not have belief systems in the afterlife and the human soul (Campbell, 2009). In fact, many modern religions hold that humans will live forever, and the archaeological record confirms that ancient peoples buried grave goods to help their loved ones in the afterlife (Elliott, 2013). As Elliott emphasizes, "Indeed, today most of the religious world believes in an immortal soul that lives on in some form. It is a shared teaching of Hinduism, Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Buddhism, Christianity, Islam and Baha'i, as well as of native and tribal religions throughout Africa, the Americas and elsewhere" (2013, para. 3).

There are some varying views about the human soul held by different religions, though, with some teaching that the human soul lives through eternity in a heaven or hell while others hold that the human soul will manifest in some other type of life form after death in a perpetual cycle of reincarnation (Elliott, 2013). Conversely, the most nonbelievers reject the notion of a soul altogether, and believe that death spells the end of the human existence altogether (Elliott, 2013). Therefore, it is the Christian conceptualization of the human soul that sets this religion apart and provides the foundation for effective psychology practice.

Finally, it is also important to note that human beings were designed as spiritual as well as physical beings that have innate emotional, mental and social aspects ( as physical, emotional, mental, social, and spiritual beings (Do Christianity and psychology really mix?, 2015). All of these aspects of the human condition affect one another, but spiritual issues are typically a part of the problem (Do Christianity and psychology really mix?, 2015). This, of course, does not mean that "all of [humanity's] problems have a physiological or psychological basis," but it is reasonable to suggest that physiological and psychological factors are almost always an important part of the overall mix (Do Christianity and psychology really mix?, 2015, para. 3). Consequently, Christians have often experienced successful clinical outcomes in coping with the day-to-day exigencies of life in the 21st century by seeking help from qualified psychologists (Do Christianity and psychology really mix?, 2015).

These successes, though, are the result of the practice of "true psychology" as opposed to the secularized versions that have become increasingly popular in recent years (Do Christianity and psychology really mix?, 2015). Indeed, some authorities suggest that Christians seek mental health assistance from otherwise qualified psychological practitioners who also subscribe to the Christian faith: "For this reason, believers need to exercise discernment in seeking psychological treatment. In fact, we strongly recommend that they receive therapy only from practitioners who share their Christian faith" (Do Christianity and psychology really mix?, 2015, para. 4). Likewise, other authorities maintain that Christian psychologists alone possess the resources needed to practice true psychology since it involves the study of the soul (Fykholm, 2014). Taken together, it is apparent that there are divergent views on this issue, but determining an accurate answer to the guiding research question can help clarify the underlying concepts and provide Christians with some sound guidance concerning the efficacy of psychological practice by Christian and non-Christian psychologists.

Overview of the Study

This study was organized into five chapters to develop…

Sources Used in Documents:


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Bassett, R.L. (2013, Winter). An empirical consideration of grace and legalism within Christian experience. Journal of Psychology and Christianity, 32(1), 43-49.

Black's law dictionary. (1990). St. Paul, MN: West Publishing Co.

Bobgan, M. & Bobgan, D. (1987). PsychoHeresy: The psychological seduction of Christianity.

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