Spirituality & Psychology

More Alike than Different

Definition of Psychology

Psychology is the study of the thoughts and behaviors of humans and animals.

There are many different fields in psychology, such as but not limited to, cognitive, applied, developmental, social/personality, and clinical psychology, which includes Carl Rogers’ humanistic psychology.

It is a diverse field.

Spirituality is the expression of one's lived experience when pursuing a relationship with a power greater than one's own. Spirituality is often expressed through religious practices. A person’s lived experience includes their thoughts and behaviors.

For some reason, these two fields of study have been put at odds against one another.

Brief History of Psychology & Spirituality

However estranged spirituality and psychology seem to be, the interrelatedness of these fields can't be denied.

It is possible that this rift emerged during the 19th century when psychology began to evolve into an empirical science – a science that studied that which could be explained through experimentation.

Psychological research took a turn and began to investigate affect, insight, memory, and imagination on purely scientific terms, while perhaps ignoring the possibility of a higher being influencing any part of the lived experience.

There is the idea that science is supported by factual, tangible, rational evidence while spirituality/religion is based on frivolous, inconclusive, and faith-based processing.

But even when conducting psychological research, investigators can only observe the outward product of a person’s thoughts which is typically recording someone’s behavior or bodily response, like perspiration or the widening of one’s pupils.

Some Christians feel that psychologists are completely out of line. They think that the only path towards healing is through the Word of God, and consultation with other believers.

I strongly believe that the Word of God is a book of instruction, and I have friends and family members whom I can speak to about my beliefs and how to approach a solution.

But it was through a combination of psychotherapy and spirituality that I was able to learn strategies that I could implement into my daily life that led towards lasting change.

What Happens When We Combine the Two Fields?

The gap between these areas is not as wide as it once was. There has been a shift from the 19th and early 20th century approach to the commonalities between psychology and religion (spirituality) to more contemporary and inclusive schools of thought.

The articles on this topic will focus on:

All in all, both psychology and spirituality (religion) consider the holistic experience of the individual, so why should they not be used in conjunction with one another?

Psychology, spirituality, and religion are complementary.

They each allow for self-examination that is not egotistical, but encourages advancement beyond what is self-conceived.

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