Psychology and Religion: What Defines Successful Integration?

[Speaker] Zhang, Michael:1
1:University of Sydney (Australia)

The purpose of this paper is to consider the conceptual and practical implications of religious integration on theory, research, and practice in psychology. Notable examples within these areas will be explicated in relation to mainstream definitions of successful integration. First, James Fowler's stage-theory of faith development will be examined as an illustrative example of theorizing that integrates religion and developmental psychology. Next, Frank Fincham's research on prayer as a relationship intervention will be subject to analysis on the integration of religion and social psychology. Jon Kabat-Zinn's mindfulness-based stress reduction will then be considered as an integrative example within psychotherapy. The features of successful integration will be identified from these prominent cases, followed by a critique of the resulting implications. Specifically, these include a reductionistic over-reliance on cognitive explanatory mechanisms, the conflating of psychology with a distinctly secular identity, and an overall misunderstanding of religious practices within the context of psychology.
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