Crisis of Faith
Often times people can lose faith in their religious beliefs and that God exists, which can leave them feeling confused and distressed. This can result in you questioning who you are, what the meaning of life is and, even, your purpose. People can end up in this existential conflict for various reasons, such as experiencing the death of a loved one, particularly someone young, seeing others being successful despite their negative behaviours, world atrocities, relationship breakdown, falling ill - the list goes on. When you experience a crisis of faith you may ask yourself questions such as:
Why has God abandoned me?
If God exist why doesn’t he change my situation?
Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people?
If God exist why do so many bad things happen in the world?
If God is Love, how can their be wars between Faiths?
If God exist why hasn’t he given me a sign?
If you are struggling with a crisis of faith and these thoughts are going through your mind we might be able to help you.
Growth has two processes as understood by the Swiss developmental psychologist Jean Piaget (1896–1980): assimilation and accommodation. As we are growing, including within our Faith, we keep adding to our current understanding, but at some point, we need to move to a whole new level. This can be a crisis when we don't know what that new level might look like; if we are unprepared or the new level might be quite different from where we are now.
The journey from emergency to emergence follows a defined path; the current status quo becomes increasingly uncomfortable until a journey of discovery is taken into new possibilities eventually leading back home, but with a deeper understanding. Although this is a time-tested and universal part of the growth process, it is scary and uncertain because it is an exploration beyond what is known, comfortable and reassuring.
How I can help?
It might seem that Psychology and Faith are not a good match with the current emphasis on the scientific method within mental health treatment. However, the foundation of psychological counselling and psychotherapy is the pastoral care offered by the clergy for centuries and much of underpinning philosophy is directly from the reflective tradition within the church. The understanding and care of the psyche (Latin for the soul) only shifted from the church to medicine in the late 1800s.
I grew up in the church and I have heard from many people over the years their experience of losing faith in God, especially during difficult times in their lives. I have also heard from work colleagues and friends of various faiths talking about their experience of losing faith in religion and hope in God, which led to them completely turning away from religion or turn to another. As people can face judgment if they openly discuss their struggles I know how important it is for me to adopt a non-judgement approach to therapy.
We aim to provide a sensitive and understanding environment, but also one that is outside of the environment where the crisis was born. The aim is to provide the opportunity for you to discover a resolution that encourages growth and allows you to navigate the changes in your life that this journey may bring.
When dealing with this sensitive matter I use the Person-Centred approach to be empathic, congruent and given unconditional positive regard. For me, it is important to stay with what the person brings and recognise the pain of this. Also if deemed appropriate I use the psychodynamic approach to make interpretations in order to aid understanding. A crisis of Faith is also a crisis of a person within a context at a certain time. It could well be that the questions about God and the Church reflect questions that you have about yourself, others in your life as well as the world around you. Nevertheless, crises have consequences; some of which may be rather disruptive and the post-crisis/growth process often requires a time of reflection and strategic integration. A key factor as to whether a change leads to greater learning and depth is not the crisis or the resolution, but what the new normal looks like; does it include what you have gained from the process or will it be undermined in time.