Spiritually Integrated Psychotherapy (SIP)
By Russell Siler Jones, ThD, LPCS, Interim Psychotherapy Commission Member |  April 15, 2019

Mental health professionals are hungry for training in spirituality. Our professional colleagues across the psychotherapy spectrum—social workers, psychologists, psychiatrists, addiction specialists, marriage and family therapists, professional counselors—want to know what pastoral counselors have known for decades: how to work respectfully within the belief- and value-systems of those they serve, while also drawing on their own belief- and value-systems to understand themselves, the people they serve, and the nature of transformation and healing.

In response to this strong interest in the mental health community, the American Association of Pastoral Counselors supported a five-member task force in developing a 30-hour continuing education curriculum in Spiritually Integrated Psychotherapy (SIP). The SIP curriculum includes 10 three-hour courses and covers topics like conducting spiritual assessment, working with healthy spiritual resources, addressing spiritual struggles, working with harmful spirituality and religion, and utilizing the therapist’s own spiritual perspectives in an ethically appropriate manner.

The SIP curriculum is not an end in itself. We see the curriculum as a way to develop local communities of formation for persons interested in spiritually integrated psychotherapy and to introduce ACPE to an entirely new group of helping professionals.

At one of its first meetings this spring, ACPE’s Interim Psychotherapy Commission voted to adopt a charge to provide oversight and guidance for the management, development, and implementation of the Spiritually Integrated Psychotherapy program. In the coming months, the commission will be discussing next steps for the SIP Program, including its evaluation, marketing plan, and business model. The SIP curriculum is being piloted in several locations this spring and summer, and participants’ and trainers’ evaluations and feedback will be used to strengthen the curriculum this fall.  The next phase of SIP’s development will likely involve a Train-the-Trainer retreat, with this first cohort of trainers offering in-person SIP trainings in their communities throughout 2020.

Keep your eyes on this newsletter for information about how you can become a trainer, and encourage colleagues who might want to take this training to add their name to the SIP Interest List.

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