Are you a prospective client seeking a therapist who won’t impose his or her religion or spirituality on you? Are you a therapist who wouldn’t dream of doing that? If so, take a look at The Therapist Project. You can sign up to find a therapist or you can register to be one of those therapists.
I found The Therapist Project via a more comprehensive resource called Recovering From Religion, an organization that was founded by psychologist Darrel Ray. From the website:
If you are one of the many people who have determined that religion no longer has a place in their life, but are still dealing with the after-effects in some way or another, Recovering From Religion (RR) may be just the right spot for you. Many people come to a point that they no longer accept the supernatural explanations for the world around them, or they realize just how much conflict religious belief creates. It can be difficult to leave religion because family and culture put so much pressure on us to stay and pretend to believe the unbelievable. If this is you, we want to help you find your way out. Don’t let people convince you that you just didn’t have ‘enough’ faith, or that you just haven’t found the ‘right’ religion.
In a blog post, Ray further explains his belief about separating religion and spirituality from clinical work:
A good psychotherapist does their work with excellent technique, none of which was ever developed by Jesus, a priest, a minister or bishop. If religion was an important key to mental health, then religion would have solved the problem of mental health 2,000 years ago. Jesus’s approach to mental illness was to cast demons out of a mentally ill person, into a herd of swine, and have the swine jump over a cliff. That was the state of mental health knowledge until secular psychological science came along 150 years ago. Only with the advent of science have we learned how to treat depression through talk therapy and drugs. How to understand mental illness and much of its chemical basis in the brain. How to diagnose autism and schizophrenia among many other conditions…
The bottom line is this; if religion works, then go to your minister, priest, imam, scientology auditor or guru. If psychotherapy works, then go to a secular psychotherapist trained in evidence based approaches and/or go to a psychiatrist trained in good drug therapy. There is no valid reason to mix these two. Religion had its shot for 3000 years or more. The best it could do was find demons everywhere.
My purpose in starting the Therapist Project was to help people with no superstitions find a therapist with no superstitions. If a therapist is spiritual, by definition, they are superstitious.
Ray was asked in an interview: What if someone comes to one of these secular therapists and says they’re having doubts about the existence of god, or questioning their faith? How would a good secular therapist handle this kind of client without pushing them to leave the religion? Ray answers: “Cognitive behavioral approach, I would say. That’s what cognitive therapy does. It asks you to consider a rational approach to dealing with your problems. A lot of our therapists are well trained in CBT. A religious person could still perform that kind of therapy, as long as they kept their religion out of it.”
Another link on the Recovering From Religion site is The Clergy Project, “for active and former clergy who do not hold supernatural beliefs…Currently, the community’s 300 plus members use it to network and discuss what it’s like being an unbelieving leader in a religious community. The Clergy Project’s goal is to support members as they move beyond faith.”
On a related note, there’s a new book from Ray entitled Sex and God: How Religion Distorts Sexuality. He’s the same author behind the previous and well-reviewed The God Virus: How Religion Infects Our Lives and Culture.
Some quotes from the newer book, available from Good Reads:
- “We acquire both the language and religious concepts from our immediate culture – at the same time. A child cannot discriminate between useful survival information and the emotional and psychological manipulations of religion. Once infected, these ideas are deeply embedded and almost impossible to change.”
- “All religions have something to say about sex, and it rarely coincides with scientific knowledge of sex and sexuality.”
- “Religion has the capacity to silence critical thinking and create blindness in entire groups of people. It can infect the minds of followers so completely as to allow the most egregious sexual acts against children and others to go unchallenged for centuries.”