Monday, October 6, 2008

Religion, Spirituality, and Mental Health: A Study Group

This is a description of a study group which I've facilitated a couple of sections of.  I expect to be convening another section in 2009, and persons who might be interested in participating are invited to contact me.  I'm also available to speak, consult, and lead workshops on this topic.

Research and experience show that religion and spirituality can make a potentially positive contribution to our mental health.  They help us form the networks and communities that provide cohesiveness in our lives, provide explanatory frameworks to make sense of events, encourage resilience in the face of challenge and change, and, in spiritual or transpersonal experience, connect us directly with the meaning of life, transcending the boundaries between the individual, the community, and humanity as a whole.  But religion and so-called spiritual experience have also done a lot of harm.  Religious and supposedly spiritual organizations and institutions can become self-serving, coercive and abusive, undermining healthy communities and mental health, encouraging beliefs and behaviors that are dangerous to self and others, and even giving rise to terrorism.  This study group will assemble psychotherapists, pastoral counselors, and others who are interested in these topics to consider the relationship between religion, spirituality and mental health.  

The study group will meet for six sessions, once a month.

The group will read and discuss two books:  "Spirituality and Mental Health Care:  Rediscovering a 'Forgotten' Dimension," by John Swinton, and "Them and Us:  Cult Thinking and the Terrorist Threat," by Arthur Deikman; other readings may be announced.  An approximately equal balance of discussion of readings and cases will be encouraged.

The study group is co-sponsored by the Chicago Association for Psychoanalytic Psychology and the Learning Resource Alliance.  The study group facilitator will be Jay Einhorn, Ph.D., Chair of Peer Study Groups for the Chicago Association for Psychoanalytic Psychology (, and President of the Learning Resource Alliance (  Dr. Einhorn is a psychologist in private practice in Evanston, with a long-term interest in this topic.  For further information, contact Dr. Einhorn at 847.212.3259, or

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