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Psychology of Religion and Spirituality 2010, Vol. 2, No.

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2010 American Psychological Association 1941-1022/10/$12.00 DOI: 10.1037/a0019624

Advancing The Boldest Model Yet: A Commentary on Psychology, Religion, and Spirituality
Edward P. Shafranske
Pepperdine University

Following ODonahues (1989) consideration of the psychologist as metaphysicianscientist-practitioner, Jones (1994) proposed, the boldest model yet in which religion could participate as an active partner with psychology as a science and as an applied discipline (p. 184). Lisa Miller goes a step farther in her call for a spiritual psychology, which extends a map of human experience beyond the material and offers the vast possibility of the science of psychology . . . to generate new methods beyond materialism (Miller, 2010, p. 35). Perhaps, the boldest model yet is one that invites an examination of nonmaterialistic phenomena, established on a new principle, as Wulff (1997) put it, the Principle of the Inclusion of the Transcendent (p. 645) in the psychology of religion. A nonmaterialistic psychology strains within the connes of positivism. Habermas (1971) provides a partial solution to these limits in arguing that psychology is better situated as a historical-hermeneutic science than an empirical-analytical science. Whereas natural science can lead to prediction and manipulation of the natural world, that is, materialism, the cultural sciences offer an interpretive approach to grasp the complexes of subjectively formed ways of life (Dryzek, 1995, pp. 98 99). As such, access to the facts is provided by the understanding of meaning, not observation (Habermas, 1971, p. 309). Each of the articles in this section illustrates what can be gained in reaching beyond materialism to meaning. Len Sperry advocates for a holistic, postmaterialist perspective to health, which deemphasizes pathology and symptom reduction

Edward P. Shafranske, Graduate School of Education and Psychology, Pepperdine University. Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Edward P. Shafranske, Pepperdine University, 18111 Von Karman Avenue, Room 209, Irvine, CA 92612. E-mail: eshafran@pepperdine.edu 124

as the singular focus. Embedded in his thesis is the intricate connection between mind and body, yet he resists the unied model of scientic naturalism on the grounds that it represents a biologization of spirituality. Collapsing spirituality to purely materialistic categories obscures the potency that transcendence may have on the person. I found Sperrys introduction of levels of consciousness within the therapeutic process to be valuable. Similar to advances in the application of mindfulness, investigations of consciousness may reveal new pathways to improve health and well-being. Consciousness may be particularly important to consider in a variety of forms of spiritually oriented psychotherapy in which interventions aim to integrate a clients spirituality. Personal and professional factors inuence the conduct of psychotherapy and, as Beutler, Machado, and Neufeld (1994) opined, these sources become so intertwined that it is virtually impossible to differentiate among them (p. 244). Kari OGrady and Scott Richards (2010) seek to untangle these factors in their examination of the role of inspiration in the helping professions. Their well-designed study provides an important look at how a specically spiritual perspective such as inspiration inuences clinicians understanding. I particularly appreciated the authors use of a qualitative research approach, their effective argument for the reconsideration of spiritual realities and their straightforward discussion of the spiritual worldview that informed their approach to psychotherapy. The ndings represent a wide range of belief orientations and the varied effects spiritual commitment has on clinical judgment. Of particular note is the potential impact that holding a spiritual orientation may have on the ways in which therapists engage their clients. To speculate, might a spiritual orientation amplify a psychotherapists respect for the dignity of the client or uniquely prime the clinicians ability to empathically relate to the client? In addition, to go a step further, what effect might such an orien-

COMMENTARY

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tation have on the therapeutic process and outcome? The authors wisely discuss their ndings with a cautionary tone and, recognize that not all intuitive connections with clients indicate spiritual inuences and not all hunches are spiritual insights (p. 65). This leads to an associated point: Given the lack of attention given to the religious and spiritual dimension in most psychology training, how prepared are clinicians to be mindful of the potential impacts their religious and spiritual commitments have on their professional practice, to appropriately and ethically integrate spirituality in psychological treatment, or respond to emergent transcendent experiences? This study points to the necessity to provide training that explicitly focuses on the role of religion and spirituality as personal factors as well as opportunities to be trained in approaches to address spirituality in psychotherapy. The nal article in this special section calls into question the fundamental assumptions of materialist psychology. Bruce Greysons study of near-death experiences challenges the assumption that the mind and the brain are identical and that psychological phenomena can be readily explained by existing physiological models. He points to the paradoxes that refute the commonly held scientic understanding about the underpinnings of consciousness. Beyond the remarkable experiences described in near-death experiences is the question of how science will respond to the challenges these data exact. Will such challenges be embraced and will more fundamental questions be taken up, though it means that certain truth claims may need to be put aside? There may be no other eld that as incisively illustrates the limits of positivism, when employed as the exclusive model for inquiry, than the psychology of religion. When legitimate knowledge is possible only in the system of the empirical sciences as per early positivism, and

the knowing subjects reection upon itself (Habermas, 1971, p. 71) is ignored, the transcendent dimension in human experience cannot be considered. Lisa Miller (2010) in calling for a spiritual psychology is pushing the limits of psychology beyond materialism and perhaps is also encouraging the psychology of religion and spirituality to be even bolder and to more fully join in Einsteins sense of a vast sacred universe that surrounds us, of which we have so much to learn (p. 36). References
Beutler, L. E., Machado, P. P. P., & Neufeld, S. A. (1994). Therapist variables. In A. E. Bergin & S. L. Gareld (Eds.), Handbook of psychotherapy and behavior change (4th ed., pp. 229 269). New York: Wiley. Dryzek, J. S. (1995). Critical theory as a research program. In S. K. White (Ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Habermas (pp. 97119). Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press. Habermas, J. (1971). Knowledge and human interests. (J. J. Shapiro, Trans.). Boston: Beacon Press. (Original work published 1968) Jones, S. L. (1994). A constructive relationship for religion with the science and profession of psychology. American Psychologist, 49, 184 199. Miller, L. (2010). Watching for light: Spiritual psychology beyond materialism. Psychology of Religion and Spirituality, 2, 3536. ODonohue, W. (1989). The (even) bolder model: The clinical psychologist as metaphysicianscientist-practitioner. American Psychologist, 44, 1460 1468. OGrady, K. A., & Richards, P. S. (2010). The role of inspiration in the helping professions. Psychology of Religion and Spirituality, 2, 57 66. Wulff, D. M. (1997). Psychology of religion. Classic and contemporary (2nd ed.). New York: Wiley. Received March 25, 2010 Accepted March 25, 2010