Spirituality and the Challenge of Clinical Pluralism: Participatory Thinking in Psychotherapeutic Context

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Abstract

From a secular perspective, emphasizing the theme of spirituality can seem antithetical to the needs of a pluralistically nuanced clinical attitude. This article suggests that, on the contrary, the reticence of the clinical mainstream to more directly embrace spiritual concerns betrays an underlying dogmatism. The theme of spirituality is thus argued to have paradigmatic importance in demonstrating the pluralistic failings of Western psychology. Drawing on recent developments in American psychoanalysis, consideration is given to the theoretical challenges associated with maintaining a pluralistic sensibility in clinical practice. Contemporary psychoanalysis is argued to offer spiritually oriented clinicians an important basis in which to ground practice, yet it is also argued that contemporary psychoanalysis can only hope to more adequately reflect its ostensible commitment to inclusivity by revising its implicit reliance on a secular worldview. Such an undertaking might be achieved by drawing from the recent “participatory turn” in transpersonal psychology to offer a reading of Jung’s work demonstrating the enduring importance of an archetypal approach.

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