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Catholic Psychotherapy

SERVICES I OFFERCatholic Psychotherapy

The objective of psychotherapy or “therapy” - even when informed by the Catholic faith - is the resolution of psychological conflicts that produce psychiatric symptoms that often result in a diagnosis as defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5-TR).

These symptoms are created by emotional resentments that begin in childhood and become the core of your unconscious psychological defenses. While such defenses have an original protective purpose, if you continue to use them as an adult, you will find that these resentments will lead to feelings of victimization, hate, self-blame, and self-punishment that not only affect your mental health, but also your physical, social, and spiritual health.

In fact, individuals caught up in their unconscious defenses don’t really desire to serve God. Deep in their hearts, they use the name of God only as an excuse to serve their own pride – the pride of believing that they are “in control” of their lives.

And why is this? Well, you may not want to admit this to yourself, but all of us have dark and hateful thoughts and imaginings that we keep shrouded in secrecy and don’t want to reveal to anyone, especially not to a psychotherapist. [1]

a woman holding her heart with a smile while on her computer having an online Catholic Psychotherapy session

Psychotherapy Techniques

for Treatment of Psychological Disorders

All of the psychotherapy techniques that I use are evidence-based, but the evidence does not just come from scientific experimentation; much evidence comes from ages of experience and wisdom.

Many various psychotherapy theories and techniques have been developed since the early 1900s when Sigmund Freud formulated the concept of psychoanalysis [2][3]. These techniques have one basic objective: to help us do the things we would like to do, but, by ourselves, cannot manage to do.

Some of these techniques are based in conscious, rational thought processes.

 

Cognitive-Behavioral [4]

techniques, for example, focus specifically on changing faulty or unhelpful thoughts and behaviors. Vocal, silent, and even written techniques may be utilized. Note that vocal prayer is the preeminent form of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy.

Teaching and Reasoning

are also forms of psychological healing, which has been a preferred method for many people who seek to understand ‘why’ they should change or how change can help them. Short stories, also known as storytelling, which illustrates a specific lesson, are one example. Storytelling is one of the oldest forms of communication. This has been a preferred method of Christian psychotherapy, beginning with Christ Himself, continuing with the Apostles, and the Saints.

Still, some psychotherapy techniques are necessary to get past resistance to change and we must reach deep into the unconscious part of the mind, well past a person’s conscious thought.

Guided Imagery

helps you visualize things that could or might occur so that you can achieve them or avoid them in the future. St. Ignatius of Loyola anticipated this concept in his Spiritual Exercises. 

Mental Prayer

(or contemplative prayer) calls upon inspiration by the Holy Spirit to reveal and understand unconscious conflicts. Catholic mystics through the ages have had much to say about this. I also teach a specific method of contemplative prayer that can be used throughout the day, which I call ‘Careful Contemplation’.

Dreams

The Book of Daniel provides a practical example of this, while the Book of Sirach (34:5) warns us that dreams are not meant to be taken as predictions of actual future events. [5]

Forgiveness Therapy [6]

can help you free yourself from the illusion of anger, which has controlled you, by growing in the desire and moral virtue of love. The story of Joseph in the Book of Genesis provides a full illustration of the definitions and concepts within Forgiveness Therapy. Christ Himself said that it was most important to love (Mat 22:34-40) and, He was consistent in His response, every time he received a question about forgiveness.

FAQ
  • I’ve read self-help books. How is Catholic psychotherapy different?
  • How long should I expect to be in Catholic psychotherapy?
  • What about privacy?
  • Do you use any other methods?
  • Are there any methods that you don’t use?
  • What about medication?
  • What about the COVID-19 vaccine?

Self-help books can be written by anyone, with or without any education or experience, and the author only writes in general terms. Psychotherapy is a process, and the psychotherapist is supposed to be an interpreter and an instructor, to teach you what you didn’t learn as a child, about your emotions so that you may understand yourself and others better and develop healthy relationships.

Recovering from trauma is something that we all need, in my view, at some point in our lives. However, it’s because I participated in my own search for healing, beyond what was required of me for my training and consistent with the example of one of my mentors, I can attest to ‘why’, ‘when’, and ‘how’ something works or doesn’t, beyond what the research shows. While I do offer self-help information on this website and my other clinical website, the fact is, that you are unlikely to fully benefit from any self-help resources or the graces that God may give you, unless and until, you choose to participate in effective psychotherapy in the Catholic mystic tradition.

Effective psychotherapy that involves psychoanalytic language and the client’s participation in the process, without the client allowing what is known as the ‘love-hate flip-flop’ to be his or her excuse for ‘dropping out’, can help nearly any person develop emotional awareness, which is a psychological tool. Psychotherapy is hard work. But, if you do it, you can learn to respond to any situation with emotional awareness and emotional honesty. Emotional awareness gives you the ability to respond honestly and appropriately to every moment of the present, so that you can recognize the difference between what you can change versus what you cannot change and choose an appropriate non-defensive, mature, and psychologically healthy response to your current feelings.

Real Catholic psychotherapy, however, is not limited to the resolution of psychological conflicts that produce psychiatric symptoms. Catholic psychotherapy includes spiritual-based healing so that you may be able to learn how to make a full surrender to God, uniting your will with His. Nevertheless, because I practice psychological and spiritual healing in the Catholic mystic tradition, rather than psychotherapy per se, my clients receive additional protections, such as privacy, safety, and grace, which are only some of the benefits of having a parent-figure and spiritual guide to assist them on their journey towards healing.

Unfortunately, most so-called Catholic psychotherapists do not offer this to their clients, nor do they understand their role as a Catholic psychotherapist. Even if the Catholic psychotherapist has been trained at a Catholic college or university, he or she likely hasn’t done the rigorous, hard work to heal through forgiveness with psychoanalytic language from a Catholic psychotherapist and he or she likely doesn’t live a contemplative life of prayer, which is necessary for any Catholic to be able to develop his or her conscience and stretch his or her heart towards God so that he or she can learn how to Love. That’s why, my practice is called, ForgivePrayLove™.

The length of treatment depends on the nature, the severity, and the extent of the emotional wounds that have afflicted you – and those criteria in turn affect the strength of your resistance to change, which in turn affects the length of treatment. Because I work collaboratively with my clients, I do offer short-term and longer-term psychotherapy methods based on your goals and history, so that you may receive a personalized approach.

Additionally, although I offer spiritual counsels as guidance to some of my Catholic, Christian, and other clients who are seeking God, it’s been my experience that most don’t actually desire the narrow road. So, my policy is to offer you what you desire and to help you overcome your obstructions, to the extent that you are willing to participate. I advise you to read more about spiritual counseling if you believe that you are ready to participate in the hard work necessary to heal according to the Catholic mystic tradition,

It is normal to feel concerned about privacy and even receiving a diagnosis, as these can affect your ability to trust and your Constitutional and civil rights. This is why it is important that you seek help from a professional who understands these risks and will do whatever is within his or her limits to educate and protect you.

I believe that at the end of the day, one of my responsibilities is to protect your privacy, as closely as possible with the same protections that you should receive when you go to Confession. If not, people will never seek help from a psychotherapist to heal from what causes so much pain in this world and that’s the goal of many within our atheistic government, which unfortunately even the Holy Father, the majority of the bishops and priests, and other religious have succumbed to being a higher authority than even the Almighty God. Some of them are really no different than the atheistic and communist governments that oppress people around the world. If you don’t believe me, then consider how do you explain the fact that our Church was closed during COVID-19, we were denied the Holy Eucharist, and that the Church has no problem sharing the message that you should trust the government and science more than God, out of so-called ‘charity’ towards your neighbor, and reducing Christ in the Eucharist down to pixels on a television? Real charity towards one’s neighbor is to speak the truth with humility in all things, trusting in God to protect you from temptations contrary to Love (especially anger), and to pray that your neighbor will not ‘hate’ you for loving him or her when you share the Good News.

Note, however, that I am a mandated reporter. So, if you are an imminent risk of harm to self or others and if you are not willing to self-report, I may need to make a report. This does not mean that you cannot talk about thoughts of harm to self or others, history of abuse, and so forth. Rather, it means that if you disclose to me sufficient information that I come to reasonably believe that you are a risk to yourself or others, and you refuse to work collaboratively with me on the options presented to you, then you are ‘forcing my hand’. In other words, you will have made the choice for me to breach your confidentiality in an effort for me to exercise due diligence.  If it reaches that point, you more than likely do not want privacy or healing, but rather prefer to use power and control as a defense mechanism to avoid responsibility for your life.

If you still have questions or concerns on this matter, it’s good to talk about these in the first consultation and ongoing rather than let it get to that point.

Yes. I use a number of different methods that I have found to be effective in providing psychotherapy and counseling, which I teach to clients in session so that they can use these techniques during session and in their daily lives. Trauma-informed techniques to help clients learn how to respond to ‘danger’ signals from the brain are very important. The integration of Sacred Scripture, Catholic mysticism, and the teachings of the Catholic Church, are also often important for many of my clients, which I may offer guidance if it’s an area that I have knowledge or experience.

Careful Contemplation is the model of prayer that I teach to my clients, which I learned by the grace of God. The beauty of Careful Contemplation is that it can be done, all day, throughout the day, if you are open to learning it, and receiving and responding to the graces that He gives you, without judging the process, giving up, or experiencing despair if you don’t experience the effects of what you think you should be getting out of it, right away. It has the potential to help you surrender, trust, and heal. Careful Contemplation is a form of protection, even from everyday life events, that has the potential to help you experience peace and joy, be grateful, and grow in love.

All language is symbolic, and some people are particularly expressive non-verbally, as an example, which may be a result of a natural or developed talent, trauma, or due to the nature of a specific disability that he or she experiences. So, when appropriate, I may guide you in how you could use your abilities to express yourself with non-verbal communication as a therapeutic intervention.

Yes. There are some methods that I do not use because my experience with these methods has demonstrated one or two things. The first reason why I may not use a method is because I’ve already tried it and I’ve learned that it doesn’t work, even when I tried it many times with different clients. The second reason why I may not use a method is because of the potential risks involved, in my view, are too great of a risk to clients and I’m not willing to put my clients at risk with that kind of knowledge. Note that risks are not just to the body [and the mind], these methods may also be dangerous to the soul. (Mt. 10:28)

I also do not believe in “fatalism”, in the sense that a person is stuck with their condition for the rest of their life no matter what they do such as personality disorders, nor do I believe that medication is the only answer for some disorders such as schizophrenia and bipolar. Note that the concept of “fatalism” is in direct conflict with what Christ taught and Sacred Scripture dating back to Moses. So, I have invested a lot of time and my own money trying to find out what works and what doesn’t in order to help you and others heal. I continue to learn new ways to help my clients heal.

While I am not qualified to prescribe medication, it is part of my training. Sometimes people do use medications when they are experiencing psychiatric symptoms, but medications don’t really do anything except “suppress” the symptoms.

If you choose to use medications, these should really only be used in combination with psychotherapy so that you can tolerate the difficult emotions that come up as you do the hard work that is necessary to heal. While many people who experience schizophrenia and bipolar or mania typically do need medication, I have learned a lot about these disorders and I have had several clients experience benefits from psychotherapy that could not be achieved with medication alone.

This is an area where Catholics and others around the world are still heavily divided, but not in the way that Christ said that He was coming to cause division (Luk 12:51). This is something that He has permitted because of the god of this world, so that we can choose death or everlasting life. Yet, the problem that I have with the controversy over the COVID-19 vaccine is that nearly everyone who seems to have a problem with the COVID-19 vaccine doesn’t even fully understand ‘why’ they have a problem with it. It’s been my experience that the same individuals who are pushing the vaccine are unwilling to change their lives for the betterment of their souls because they use fear, shame, and force as tactics to get the vaccine ‘mandate’ enforced, which is a violation of freewill, conscience, and legal rights.

Yet, the reverse is often true for those who refuse to get the vaccine because they often look for the quickest, easiest, excuse to reject the vaccine ‘mandate’ without having spent time in prayer about the issue, considered the areas of their life that they need to change for the salvation of their souls, and they reject it based on the tactics used by those who are pushing the vaccine ‘mandate’, rather than the evil behind the ‘agenda’. Therefore, my position on the issue is: 1) educate yourself on the issue, 2) don’t believe that this is the only issue that comes between you and God, and 3) pray, fast, and engage in a sincere study of the faith before you make decisions about your body, which includes anything that you do to your body, what is inside your body, and what you do to protect your body.

Note also, that the COVID-19 vaccine is not the only vaccine that so many of those who are so against it have ever injected into their bodies that have been developed from cell lines from aborted human babies. While we’ve been told that they were developing COVID-19 vaccines that were not developed from cell lines from aborted human babies, I have been told differently by someone who has no reason to lie to me and who has personal knowledge about it. Additionally, as the topic of other vaccines that are supported by the Church, such as the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine, that are also developed from cell lines from aborted human babies, frankly, I don’t care what the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops or any other Catholic source on bioethics or morals says about the topics of vaccines, medicine, psychotherapy, or sin. If it’s wrong, it’s wrong. I care about doing what will help me to grow in love of God, and you should to, for the sake of the salvation of your soul.

To “take the jab” for any vaccine that you have failed to “do your homework”, therefore, is to formally cooperate in abortion. The Catechism of the Catholic Church is clear that you have effectively incurred the penalty of excommunication, on your own (CCC 2272). Not even the Pope, himself, can give you permission to commit sin. If you, have received one of these vaccines, whether it was COVID-19 or some other vaccine as a child or adult when you were in a state of spiritual ignorance, remember that Christ’s Divine Mercy is unfathomable. Christ desires your enlightenment, conversion, and repentance because He loves you. If you choose to reject His love, what defense will you have to offer?

If you have further questions on the topic and need advice about how to get further information on this topic, BOOK A CALL.

NOTES

[1] Richmond, R. (1997-2023). About Psychotherapy and Psychological and Spiritual Healing. Catholic Psychology in association with A Guide to Psychology and its Practice. Retrieved February 2, 2023, from https://chastitysf.com/terms.htm#PSY. Copyright © 1997-2023 by Raymond Lloyd Richmond, Ph.D. Reproduced and adapted with permission by Raymond Lloyd Richmond, Ph.D. The material is copyrighted and may not be reproduced by any means.

[2] Jacques Lacan was a brilliant French psychoanalyst who understood the unconscious better than anyone to date. He masterfully refined many of Freud’s concepts and also developed many of his own. Yet, he is not as well-known as Carl Jung. Many psychoanalysts know who Jacques Lacan is and some are even familiar with his writings. Yet, many do not understand his work because his writings are complex and so they will often make the excuse that his writings are in “French” and have not been translated. This is untrue.

[3] While Jacques Lacan did have some familiarity with Catholic mysticism, it was not part of the development of his psychoanalytic theories or his explanations of the unconscious. It is, however, important to note that even Lacan spoke about the soul, from a psychological perspective. “And yet I fail to see why the fact of having a soul should be a scandal for having a thought-were it true. If it were true, the soul could only be spoken as whatever enables a being…to bear what is intolerable in its world, which presumes this soul to be alien…” Jacques Lacan, “A Love Letter.” In Mitchell, J. & Rose, J. (Eds.). (1985). Feminine Sexuality: Jacques Lacan and the école freudienne.New York: W. W. Norton.

[4] Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy or Cognitive Therapy was developed by Aaron Beck, M.D. in the 1960s after he became absorbed in psychoanalysis and treating depression. He is regarded as “the Father of Cognitive Therapy” and “the Father of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy”. CBT and cognitive therapy have been researched in treating a wide variety of disorders including mood disorders, anxiety disorders, eating disorders, drug abuse, personality disorders, schizophrenia, many medical conditions with psychological components, and for clients who have had recurrent suicide attempts.

[5] Richmond, R. (1997-2023). Evidence-Based Psychotherapy Techniques. Catholic Psychology in association with A Guide to Psychology and its Practice. Retrieved February 2, 2023, from https://chastitysf.com/terms.htm#EBPT. Copyright © 1997-2023 by Raymond Lloyd Richmond, Ph.D. Reproduced and adapted with permission by Raymond Lloyd Richmond, Ph.D. The material is copyrighted and may not be reproduced by any means.

[6] Forgiveness Therapy was developed by Robert D. Enright, Ph.D. in the early 1980s. He is regarded as “the Father of Forgiveness Therapy”, credited as “the Father of Forgiveness Therapy Research”, and Time magazine called him “the forgiveness trailblazer”. He is also the 2022 American Psychological Foundation Gold Medal Award Winner for his work in developing the psychological model of forgiveness, which was specifically noted as being central to healing trauma.

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