A practical theological exploration of psychology and theology as collaborative partners: The Pastoral Counseling Center Trinity Church, Boston, MA
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Practical theology brings the resources of theology into collaborative relationship with other disciplines in an equitable manner. This study analyses the collaborative relationship between theology and psychology in the delivery of mental health care at the Pastoral Counseling Center at Trinity Church, Boston, Massachusetts. Specifically, this study investigates: (1) if and how theology collaborates with psychology; (2) if and how theology and psychology function as equitable partners; and (3) the effect, if any, of their collaboration on the clinicians and/or on the mental health care itself. Psychological literature sheds light on the collaboration between theology and psychology. Literature from the field of practical theology gmdes the assessment of theology’s role in that collaboration. Finally, a theological term, “sanctification,” receives in-depth analysis for its facilitative role in the collaboration between theology and psychology. A qualitative research design structures this project. Interviews with twenty one clinicians associated with the Pastoral Counseling Center at Trinity Church provide the primary source of data. On the basis of that data, the study concludes that the discipline of theology can collaborate with psychology and maintain its role as an equitable partner. In addition, the study demonstrates that this collaboration engenders positive effects in the lives of the clinicians, and on the quality of mental health care the Center provides. A process of “sanctification” facilitates collaboration between theology and psychology. This process is formative in the development of the Center’s community and transformative in the lives of the clinicians and for the mental health care delivered under the Center’s auspices. The study also suggests areas suitable for future research, including: (1) the importance of community in the formation and transformation of the clinicians engaged in delivering mental health care; (b) the development of training protocols for clinicians engaged in collaborative mental health care; and (c) investigation of the role and effect of sanctification on collaborative mental health and those who deliver it.
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