As our culture tends away from its Judeo-Christian roots and towards a modernistic, “post-Christianity” direction, our role as Catholic psychologists, therapists, counselors, etc., takes on an even greater importance. In my field of addictions and substance use, I daily come into contact with individuals who have a “God-shaped hole” in them that they try to fill with a variety of worldly pleasures- drugs, sexual addiction and pornography, gambling, consumerism, etc., and find that they don’t help. Henry David Thoreau’s words about individuals “living lives of quiet desperation” should invigorate us towards providing assistance to these troubled individuals.
The Catholic Psychotherapy Association conference in September 2017 provides an opportunity for practitioners, who oftentimes feel isolated from the very secular fields of psychology and counseling, can find support, encouragement, and other like-minded individuals to aid them to do the difficult work that has been chosen for us by God. Pope Francis has commented on the need for all of us to “get out into the world,” and we as professionals have an opportunity to do just that.
In my time at various community mental health agencies over the course of my career, I have oftentimes recognized that learning the newest techniques about how to stop addictive behaviors, challenge negative thoughts to improve mood, etc., just isn’t enough. People need God, and the coupling of the most modern, research-based techniques with an enhanced role of spirituality can make the difference in the lives of many individuals who don’t feel that they have anywhere else to go for relief.
The conference theme of “healing divided hearts” is a very poignant reminder of the difficulties faced by many in our society. We as professionals who practice consistently with our faith can provide a means for individuals to heal and continue their journey towards salvation and eternal life.
Mark Sanders MS, LPC, CACIII