Integrating Psychotherapy within the Framework of the Catholic Faith

By: Art Bennett, Staff Spotlight

A key part of the mission of Catholic Charities in the Diocese of Arlington (CCDA) is that our work “is rooted in the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the official teachings of the Roman Catholic faith” (CCDA Mission Statement).  To best respond to the needs of our clients, we constantly strive to provide the finest and most professional services possible, while always fully in harmony with our Catholic Faith.

One way we’re doing this is by providing ongoing training on principles, research, and practices of psychology, within the framework of the Faith, for our clinicians in the Family Services Programs and our Center for Adoption and Pregnancy Services.

We’re calling this training series “Integrating Psychotherapy within the Framework of the Catholic Faith.” We believe this unique and exciting series is critical to helping clients be healthy in mind, body and soul.

We are addressing the hottest issues of our day: forgiveness and anger; the clinical application of virtues, natural law and the anthropology of the human person. We’re also focusing heavily on that controversial topic where the Church and the culture seem to constantly butt heads: human sexuality.

This past Friday, Jan. 28, led by Dave Cavanaugh, director of CCDA Family Services in Arlington, and Dr. Frank Moncher, director of Family Services in Fredericksburg, our clinicians focused on some of the key areas of this conflict: same-sex attraction, the value of chastity today, pornography and sex addiction, and the Church’s view of the sexuality and the human person.

Fr. Paul Scalia discussed our human nature and natural law as the foundation for understanding the sexuality of the human person. Fr. Paul Check, executive director of Courage International, flew in from Connecticut to discuss the Church’s integration of compassion and conversion regarding same-sex attraction. Social worker Barry Levy talked about his work with same-sex attraction clients and Laura Thieman spoke on the virtue of chastity in clinical work.

We were also honored to have Bishop Paul Loverde discuss his letter on pornography (“Bought with a Price: Pornography and the Attack on the Living Temple of God”) with comments on clinical issues of sex addiction by Dr. Frank Moncher.

As Pope Benedict XVI said, “only in truth does charity shine forth” (Caritas in Veritate, #3). Guided always by the unchanging teachings of the Church as well as the latest in psychological research, we seek to better understand who we are as human persons in order to better help our clients.

It is one of our goals at Catholic Charities to be responsive to the needs of our clients – some of the poorest and most downtrodden, both physically and emotionally, in our midst. We have a duty to respond to them as innately valuable human beings, loved by the good God that created them.

One way we are doing that is through the gift of our Faith, beautifully and wholly in sync with the gift of our training and compassion as counselors, therapists and psychologists.

I invite you to come, learn more about our mental health clinicians and programs at our Family Services and our Center for Adoption and Pregnancy Services locations at www.ccda.net.

Staff Spotlight is — in an ongoing effort to get a range of content on Encourage & Teach — content from staff members within the Diocese of Arlington from contributors who do not write as a part of their day-to-day job.

Art Bennett is the  President and CEO of Catholic Charities in the Diocese of Arlington.

2 thoughts on “Integrating Psychotherapy within the Framework of the Catholic Faith

  1. “Integrating Psychotherapy within the Framework of the Catholic Faith” — With a training course title like this, it’s interesting to me that, according to the information posted above, the psychotherapists involved and/or the Arlington Diocese seem to think that the only psychotherapy issues that exist for Catholic Church members have to do with chastity, same-sex issues, pornography, and sex addiction! Especially interesting to me is that these are Catholic-Church-focus areas. As a convert to Catholicism, I came to this page seeking information about pastoral counseling related to depression that still remains within me — the leftovers from a childhood in an abusive home (yes, an old story). Also, I need help in understanding and coping with the shame and guilt from my background that has been reawakened within me because of new awarenesses of sin (no matter how seemingly small those infractions are), now that I am a Catholic. I have been in great pain, but it looks like I haven’t come to the right place for help.

    • “Cecelia, thank you very much for you comment and feedback. I did not mean to imply that the issues mentioned (same-sex attraction, pornography, sex addiction and the Church’s teaching on chastity, sexuality and the human person) were the only issues we address as a Catholic agency. These were simply the topics discussed at a recent particular training session in January. Other topics have included forgiveness, virtue, the dignity of the person, and marriage and family issues.
      Most of our clients struggle with issues of depression, anxiety, shame and guilt and we strive to help, through genuine compassion, excellence in our profession and grace to work through these painful issues.
      I apologize if my article implied that we are not addressing these critical issues for our clients.
      Thank you for your feedback and for the opportunity to clarify the nature of our services. If we can be of any assistance to you, I invite you to contact our Family Services counseling at 703- 841-2531.” – Art Bennett

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