Religion and Spirituality at the American Psychological Association

TorontoThis summer the APA is holding its annual convention in Toronto, Ontario. It looks like there are a number of interesting sessions, including some good ones on religion and spirituality. Bill Hathaway, PhD, acting Dean and Program Director in the Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology at Regent University, will provide the Division 36 (Psychology of Religion) Presidential Address. The address is titled “Clinical Psychology of Religion and Spirituality,” and it scheduled for Friday, August 7th at 3pm.

Other interesting sessions include one on assessment of clergy, current trends in psychology of religious and spiritual development, forgiveness research, the role of spiritual struggle in adversity, and a session on guidelines for working with religious and spiritual clients. Not all of these are necessarily examples of integration in the way it is often discussed, but they certainly touch on topics of interest to Christians in the field of psychology.

In a session on “religion applied,” my co-author, Erica S. N. Tan, PsyD, will be presenting a paper we wrote on “Facilitating Congruence Between Religious Beliefs and Sexual Identity with Mindfulness.” That session is scheduled for Saturday, August 8th at noon.

On Sunday, August 9th, I will be presenting a paper with Stan Jones, PhD, on data from our six-year longitudinal study of attempted change of orientation through involvement in religious ministries. The paper is titled “Ex-Gays? An Extended Longitudinal Study of Attempted Religiously Mediated Change in Sexual Orientation.” It is in the symposium titled Sexual Orientation and Faith Tradition – A Test of the Leona Tyler Principle. The symposium is scheduled for Sunday, August 9th from 8-9:50am. The Leona Tyler Principle was adopted by the APA years ago and suggests that advocacy by the APA and by psychologists should be based upon science.

The last trip I took to Toronto was also to attend an APA event. I enjoyed the various sessions and also a baseball game during my time there, but another memory that sticks in my mind was the airport on the way home: all of the computers crashed! They were processing everyone at the airport by hand, and it took so long that they had to prioritize those people whose flights were on the verge of taking off, so even arriving early didn’t really help. Let’s hope things are smoother this time around.

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