Healing and Well-being in the Fathers and Contemporary Psychological Research

Therapy and psychological counseling have been concerned for years with pathology-oriented models, essentially borrowed from medicine. Today, however, there is a turning towards Seligman's  "positive psychology" movement and an examining of notions of well-being in order to promote positive psychological functioning with resiliency to stressors. In trying to understand well-being, psychologists define well-being either hedonistically in terms of pleasure or happiness or eudaimonically in terms of self-actualization, meaning, and purpose. These are good attempts, but they fail to offer a … [Read more...]

Where Thoughts Lead Us

I’ll begin this blog post with a story related to me by an acquaintance.  It involves a work situation and how one’s thoughts can lead to destructive and bad behavior.  It’s a story about a successful female executive who is a junior partner in a firm.  While she has attained success, status in the firm, and is widely regarded as a bright, articulate lawyer, she harbors deep-seated resentment for what she perceives as “slights” from her male partners.  As she continued to harbor these feelings, nurturing them in her imagination, she was unable to interact with her partners without seeking out … [Read more...]

Counsel for Daily Training in the Virtues at Home

As teachers of the Christian faith and way of life, the fathers were well aware of basic pedagogical principles such as the necessity to practice learned material consistently in order to apply it in real-life situations.  Christian virtue, like every other art, requires daily practice and the support of others. The faithful are encouraged to study throughout the day whatever they gather from the texts of the liturgical services, from sermons given by priests, or from the advice of spiritual fathers in confession. According to Saint John Chrysostom, it is fitting for the faithful to form study … [Read more...]

Learning How to Read for the Health of the Mind and the Health of the Soul

The intersection of modern bibliotherapy and the ancient rumination on the Law, the Psalter, and the Gospels is found most sharply in one of the main purposes behind both approaches, namely increasing awareness to principles that can be used to navigate one’s way through the many difficulties we encounter in life and that hinder us in our attempt to reach important goals, be they normal functioning in one’s environment (psychology) or union with God (in Holy Orthodoxy). Of course, sacred books can act as conveyors of grace that affect the soul at a qualitatively different level than clinical … [Read more...]

Fr. Alexis Trader: Being Christian in a Post-Christian World

The following is the second in a series of four guest posts from Fr. Alexis Trader, a priestmonk and spiritual father of Karakallou Monastery on the Holy Mountain, and author of In Peace Let Us Pray to the Lord: An Orthodox Interpretation of the Gifts of the Spirit. Fr. Alexis has recently released a new book and it is about his new book that he now writes. (The first, third, and fourth posts have been/will be posted elsewhere, please see the posting schedule at the end of this post.) Questions Beneath the Question: Ancient Christian Wisdom and Aaron Beck’s Cognitive Therapy: A Meeting of … [Read more...]