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Sojourning with the Spirit in Recovery from Mental Illness Open Access


Other title
Mental Illness
Mental Health therapy
Type of item
Degree grantor
St. Stephen's College
Author or creator
Beverly Anne Mennie
Supervisor and department
Dr. Mona-Lee Feehan
Examining committee member and department
Rev. Dr. Neil Elford
Dr. Colleen MacDougall
Date accepted
Graduation date
Master of Arts in Pastoral Psychology and Counselling
Degree level
A large part of the population is affected by issues of mental illness. Yet, there has been a corresponding lack of spiritual content in how we have been defining mental health. In an attempt to respond to this lack, the World Health Organization acknowledged that, “An expansion of the WHO definition may be necessary to include a spiritual dimension of health if social scientists can agree that spirituality is part of health and not merely an influence” (Larson (1996, Abstract). \"More recently the definition of mental health changed, Mental health is defined as a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community. (W.H.O., 2009, Mental health: As state of well-being, para. 1) This study is an attempt to contribute to this growing awareness and need. In particular, and based on the belief that integrating the Spiritual is a relational work that involves deepening counsellor understanding of that work, the chosen focus is one of self-study. The question posed is “What is my experience of learning to integrate a spiritual component into counselling psychotherapy?” This thesis developed from the lack of spiritual content in the definition of mental health. From the lived experience of the author, there is a large part missing from psychotherapy. The interest in the question of integrating a spiritual component into mental health therapy was first ignited by my changing role from mental health worker to counsellor. The heuristic research was collected over a period of one year using journal writing and art journals. The thesis begins with the theological metaphor of a weaver weaving the thread of spirituality into counselling psychotherapy. What is necessary, though not enough, is a capacity to know how the patient is experiencing himself and the world, including oneself. If one cannot understand him, one is hardly in a position to begin to ‘love’ him in any effective way. We are commanded to love our neighbor. One cannot, however, love this particular neighbor for himself without knowing who he [sic] is. (Laing, 1969, p.34)
This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
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