MAY WE RECOMMEND -- Psychotherapeutic-Spiritual Revivification


Psychotherapeutic-Spiritual Revivification

Research that may have been overlooked

by Alice Shirrell Kaswell, AIR staff

Great scientists do their greatest work when they are young, and that work is typically overlooked at the time. So say many people.

Here is an example of a spectacular Ph.D. thesis that has received less attention than it may deserve.

The thesis describes an achievement that can barely be described in words.The title is modestly understated: "Psychotherapy and spirituality: A paradigm for healing." The author and Ph.D. candidate is Suzanne Lee Lewis, who is perhaps likely to be heard from again.

This dissertation was brought to our attention by Professor Michael B. Miller of the Division of Epidemiology and Institute of Human Genetics,University of Minnesota, and his colleagues John Bush, Jeffrey M. Lohr, and Scott Lilienfeld. Professor Miller points out that "The research was conducted at Union Institute and University under the supervision of the PhD student herself -- at Union, students chair their own doctoral committees."

Here is the abstract (the little in-a-nutshell version) of the Lewis thesis. Like the thesis itself, this abstract was written by Suzanne Lee Lewis:

* * *

Lewis' exploratory study incorporates data from a case study of a
profoundly depressed woman suffering from dissociative identity disorder
to show how she is healed through a psychotherapeutic and spiritual
journey into her unconscious mind. The study vividly details the
counseling experiences that uncovered repressed memories of sexual and
Satanic Ritual Abuse, the core of this depression. Extensive
first-person narrative is used to illustrate how the woman was able to
overcome the physical and emotional revivifications of her trauma.

The study explores the use of two relatively new techniques in spiritual
counseling: the TheoPhostic method (Smith 1996), which enables client
and therapist to work together with God to reintegrate dissociated
'parts' on a spiritual level; and Time Line Therapy (James and Woodsmall
1988), a method for the visualization of personal time and memory recall
involving color, lack of color, and light. Both methods are proposed as
particularly effective in knowing about repressed and dissociated trauma
memories and in healing these severe traumas as caused by sexual and
Satanic Ritual Abuse.

Various standard counseling techniques of
reframing, changing history, discovering core beliefs, changing core
beliefs and discovering disowned parts of self are all demonstrated in
this work. The not so standard techniques used in this work involve the
therapist and the client's reports of finding external and internal
spiritual guides along with a beautiful white light that provided
extraordinary resources in stopping the client's profound and sometimes
life threatening abreactions.

The most significant and powerful
technique visualizing Divine Light shining on and penetrating each newly
conscious traumatized 'part' proved to be truly miraculous for the

Using a double column format, the client's narrative is
contextualized in terms of both traditional (Janet, Charcot, Freud,
Jung, Adler) and contemporary (van der Kolk, Kluft, Putnam, Herman,
Terr, LeDoux, James and Smith) researchers. The contextualized material
puts the client's behaviors and feelings into a scholarly format that
therapists and students will find enriching and educational.

The study is a pioneering work in spiritual psychotherapy.

* * *

The thesis can be found via Dissertation Abstracts International: Section B: the Sciences & Engineering, vol 61, no. 10-B, May 2001, p. 5570. As the author herself points out: "The study is a pioneering work in spiritual psychotherapy."


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