What Is Catholic Psychotherapy and How Should It Move Forward?

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Guilford Publications Inc.


Catholic psychotherapy is a critically important specialization that under-scores the need for culturally competent best practices. It integrates state-of-the-art psychotherapeutic professional services with the rich religious, spiritual, and cultural contributions and traditions of the Roman Catholic Church. Since the Church is the single largest religious denomination in the world and represents about a quarter of the United States population, there is ample need for Catholic-informed and engaged psychotherapists with expertise in working thoughtfully and sensitively with Catholic clients, including laypersons and clerics, and with Church institutions such as schools, hospitals, and charitable groups. While the Catholic Psychotherapy Association has been an important organization to promote Catholic psychotherapy, a new journal dedicated to this topic provides a mechanism to share quality peer-reviewed science, practice, and reflection on how to move the field forward in a way that serves the most people possible. This article reflects on two central questions: What is Catholic psychotherapy, and who are good candidates to provide and receive these specialized services? It also offers examples of cases that fit well into the Catholic psychotherapy approach, and it discusses future directions as well as potential ethical challenges.