Various persons asked for my opinion about New Therapies and the Personal Development (NTPD) training and activities in my capacity as catholic theologian specialised in Spiritual Theology with a knowledge and experience in the NTPD. Please find below a short, to-the-point, set of 14 Questions that had been addressed to me and my Answers.
New Therapies and Personal Development (NTPD)
from a Scientific and Christian Point of View
1- Are all NTPD recognised? No. Only a few are recognised by the Law/Regulations of various western countries (UK here & here, and USA,…). They need to meet certain requirements in content and training in order to be regulated in a Medical environment (ie Hospitals, Home Cares). They are as well classified in different types.
2- Are they efficient? They have a certain degree of success, but this remains within their specific area of action. It would be unprofessional, therefore, to go out of their own field and claim expertise in others, i.e. Psychology, Spirituality.
3- Are they “neutral”, “scientific”? No, they are not like a medical treatment that doesn’t affect the faith of the patient; they are permeated with – and sometimes based – on a “system of belief” that will influence the client implicitly and explicitly. Christian Discernment should be used here with great care.
4- Are they limited in their influence? Yes, in their area of application they are limited (they can't be compared to Psychology/Psychotherapy for instance). But the Belief system they carry implicitly has unlimited influence.
5- Can the practitioner of the NTPD separate his practice from his belief system? No he can’t separate them. In order to do so, a long training in Spiritual Theology is required + a scientific deepening of each NT or PD system used, + an Academic training in Psychology. The belief system is part of the practitioner and is constantly conveyed in his practice, at least implicitly, by the dynamic of the Transference and by the impact on the client who sees that some therapies “do work”. Many of the NTPD are based or integrate a different “belief system”. Discernment is required.
6- Are the NTPD harmful? Many carry a “new spirituality” and a “belief system” that are not compatible with Christian Creed and Spiritual life. The “new spirituality” has been constituted outside of the Church and of its spiritual Tradition and influence. The weak faith and doctrine of the NTPD Practitioner can definitely interfere in his or her teaching, especially in matters like PD, Meditation and so forth and is implicitly and explicitly conveyed, especially by the dynamic of the Transference and Counter-Transference. This is seriously harmful for “weak” (1 Corinthians 8:9) and naïve persons and creates confusion more than it helps.
7- Can a NTPD Practitioner offer advice or counselling? Without academically recognised training, formation and certification in Counselling/Psychotherapy, the Practitioner can’t go further offering: Counselling, Coaching or Personal development training. This is fraudulent. To be a licensed Counsellor today in the in the USA, for example, requires at least a Masters degree in Psychology, Counselling, or a related discipline. In many States, the Masters degree must contain several specific classes and be at least 48 semester hours in length. To be a psychologist, in most states, will require a doctoral degree, such as a Ph.D. in psychology. Unless the Therapist is trained properly in one or more of these disciplines he or she cannot give any professional and reliable advice. On the contrary, he can create more damage than help. The wisdom, balance and culture that come out of a proper University education and a proper training cannot be improvised.
8- Can an NTPD practitioner quote the Bible or the Church Doctrine without proper theological training? Of course not. It would be an abuse of the trust of the believers, misuse, and even manipulation.
9- What is “Christian discernment” applied to the NTPD? It is knowing the exact limits of the action of each therapy, its effectiveness and the limits and action of the Grace of God and its fruits and being capable of discerning between them in a practical way.
10- What can we advise a Therapist or a Trainer? Small Therapies (Reiki, EFT,…) or methods should be combined with Medical training or proper Psychological or Theological/Spiritual training. We need to invite people who work in the field of NTPD to continue to grow, get more academic accreditations and deepen their faith and spiritual life by studying academically Theology and Spiritual Theology.
11- What is the importance of the Christian Creed? The Creed is like the hard skin of the Divine Fruit. It contains the Divine Fruit itself (God, the Trinity, Jesus, the Scriptures, the Holy Spirit, Mary, the Church, the Sacraments,…) Believing in what the Church believes allows us to reach this Divine Fruit and draw Divine Life from its juicy flesh. This is why the issue of knowing which “System of Belief” we base our spiritual life on is of utmost importance, because otherwise we might be having recourse (consciously or unconsciously) to a false fruit that has no juice, or has false juice. Therefore we need to examine carefully the “set of beliefs” involved in the NTPD. “There is an organic connection between our spiritual life and the dogmas.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 89)
12- Is the Christian Creed the only correct one? Only the Catholic Creed offers the full and main Streams of the Grace of God. Mixing it with other “sets of beliefs” is misleading and diminishes the Streams of the Grace of God or even stops them. When exposed to such teachings and training, the danger cannot be avoided for the weak people because they are exposed to an implicit “system of belief” that is different from the Catholic Faith. It will influence them inevitably. Preserving the purity of the Catholic Creed, understanding its practical spiritual implications is of utmost importance.
13- Why are the NTDP seducing? Its implicit “Belief system” seems more attractive: it is spiritual, flexible, more open, without authority, borders, confining dogmas, and heavy moral rules; it touches on health and wellbeing, and does it in a holistic way, inclusive and pluralistic; it emphasises that the mind, body, and spirit are interrelated and that there is a form of monism and unity throughout the universe and time (“past lives” belief, and other forms of extra terrestrial life); it attempts to create a worldview that includes both science and spirituality and embraces a number of forms of mainstream science, as well as other forms of science that are considered fringe. For all these reasons it easily dupes the gullible listener.
14- Is everything in the “belief system” of the NTPD wrong? It is rare to find a belief system that is totally (in all its parts) wrong. There are always some small truths that have their equivalent in the Christian Creed. But this is not enough to make these other beliefs acceptable. Christian Discernment is required.