Psychotherapy or Counseling is a process of intervention that is rooted in the idea of the “talking cure”. This process is guided by extensive research done on human behavior and empirically validated ways of intervening to alleviate psychological disarray. In Islamic terminology, this is an attempt at understanding Allah’s Sunnah (system and structure that Allah has created) and the practical application of Islam. The Qur’an instructs humankind to seek out and reflect on the signs and creation of Allah and to study them as a means of attaining nearness to Him. Islamically integrated therapy may utilize psychotherapy by means of assisting in the attainment of spiritual serenity. In fact, psychology is made up of the Greek words psyche (the soul) and logos (the study of). The soul here refers to all non-physical aspects of a person and fits in very well with the Islamic concept of mental and spiritual health. Psychotherapy is the therapeutic attempt to revitalize the spiritual self by paving the way towards the exploration of the self via guided introspection. Coupled with this method is the inclusion of traditional Islamic healing practices that are part of the healing process. These may include references to Quranic verses or stories and statements from the lives of the Prophet of Islam (saaw) and his companions. It must be noted that, Islamically integrated psychotherapy is not coercive nor is it about preaching. Rather it is an attempt to help guide and extract from the individual their own potential to resolve their psychosocial and spiritual dilemmas. An essential part of the Islamic creed is the belief in the essence of goodness that lives within all human beings. The psychotherapeutic forum is an attempt to help realize and actualize that potential.
The Islamic tradition and sciences of spirituality have served this function historically through the means of a spiritual Master who is at the head of the community. Due to premature development of the Islamic community in America and the complex challenges that Muslim Americans face, the work of Muslim community leaders may be enhanced by a more holistic approach that integrates both an understanding of human psychology, biology, society in addition to Islamic tradition. This is also known as the bio-psycho-socio-spiritual approach in psychological practice.
The popularity of many forms of modern psychology in the west has been largely due to the dissolution of the concept of the community and the industrialization/commercialization of all fields of health. There has been a focus on a post-hoc method to dealing with pathology and individuals have become dependent upon the psychologist and medications for the lack of social supports. The benefits of modern psychology, with its emphasis solely on the individual in isolation, are limited. In reality, the individual is an atom that is connected to the molecule of his/her community. Therefore, part of Islamically integrated psychotherapy entails reconnecting individuals with their strong social support systems and empowering them through healthy integration into environments that are nurture the mind and the spirit.
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