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 Secular Therapy Project. You can sign up to find a therapist or you can register to be one of those therapists.
If there isn’t a secular therapist in your geographical area, telehealth therapy may be your best option.
I first found The Secular Therapy Project via a more comprehensive resource called Recovering From Religion, an organization that was founded by psychologist Darrel Ray. From the website:
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.
A list of religious issues (found on the Recovering from Religion site) you or someone you know might be confronting includes such topics as religious harm, Religious Trauma Syndrome (RTS), Scrupulosity (Religious OCD), cults, wanting to understand a loved one who is nonreligious, and mixed belief couples.
In a blog post, Ray further explains his belief about the importance of separating religion and spirituality from clinical work:
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….
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.”
Want to learn more about Ray’s views? Two of Ray’s books are titled Sex and God: How Religion Distorts Sexuality and The God Virus: How Religion Infects Our Lives and Culture.