“We are not human beings having a spiritual experience, rather we are spiritual beings having a human experience.” – Teilhard de Chardin
When we hold this belief that we are spiritual beings and that is the essence of who we are, integrating a person’s spirituality into psychotherapy is like breathing. It is just part of living and what gives life to the therapeutic process, whether the person is aware of it or not. According to Gallup Poll, 47% of Americans describe themselves as religious, while 33% describe themselves as spiritual but not religious and 2% say they are both. All together, a significant 82% of Americans identify with some form of spiritual belief, showcasing the enduring importance of spirituality in people’s lives. According to Pew Research, 7 out of 10 U.S. adults consider themselves as spiritual. It is evident that spirituality still matters to people. At SamaraCare, spirituality is a high value that has been imbedded in our beginnings and continues to form us.
In today’s discussions about neuroplasticity, psychotherapy is recognized for its pivotal role in rewiring neural networks for health and growth. Spiritual integrated psychotherapy takes it a step further, offering the potential for what Karen Cherwein terms as pneumaplasticity. Pneumaplasticity, as described by Karen Cherwein (M.Div), is the “capacity to rewire our spiritual pathways throughout our lives as we work to adapt and derive meaning from our experiences and emotions.” It involves forming new and renewed spiritual connections, leading us back to our authentic selves and into an authentic community….”. In another article, she writes that pneumaplasticity gives our spiritual selves an opportunity to “adapt and rewire to facilitate meaning-making and continued discernment of our ever-developing senses of identity and meaning.” In Karen Cherwein’s upcoming book, she hopes to show how pneumaplasticity is a key factor in “embracing our full potential…begin to affirm our common humanity, and to articulate new and renewed sense of meaning and purpose.”
Spiritually integrated psychotherapy aims to merge the healing powers of neuroplasticity and pneumaplasticity. Spiritually integrated psychotherapy is not just to relieve the client’s negative symptoms, though that is an important goal, but to move clients towards wholeness and a truer sense of who they are so they can live out their lives to the fullest. There is a deeper and more lasting work that is being done in spiritually integrated psychotherapy. The process of spiritually integrated psychotherapy gives a person the space to process their experiences, helping them own and author past, present and future stories (rewiring), removing obstacles, unearthing their true essence, so they can be free to be their truest selves. A skilled spiritually integrated psychotherapist is acutely attuned to the deeper work needed and able to move the client towards discovering and living in their true-self. Some clients have found their negative symptoms were due to living in their false-self and their lack of purpose and meaning in life. As they became more in touch with who they truly are and discover meaning and purpose in their lives, they became more connected to others, the world and their place in it. Their symptoms subside in this process and/or they have more capacity to manage the challenges of life. We at SamaraCare desire for all to experience the abundant and meaningful life that they are meant to have. We believe our biopsychosocial-spiritual holistic approach to therapy is the road towards wellness and the best version of you.
Psy.D., M.A., BSN-R.N.
Licensed Clinical Psychologist
Clergy & Congregational Care