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Book details
  • SubGenre:Psychotherapy / Counseling
  • Language:English
  • Pages:134
  • Duration:2 Hours 29 Minutes
  • Paperback ISBN:9781098305444
  • Audiobook ISBN:9798350939408

Hear the Word

Catholic Psychotherapy and Faith: Reflections on Seven Parables of Jesus

by Raymond Biersbach

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This book connects resources from the vast field of psychotherapy with resources from the equally vast fields of Christian theology and Christian anthropology. Christian anthropology asserts that humanity began with God, will end with God, and, in the time in between, we women and men are free to choose to walk with God…or not. Applied Christian anthropology works to develop awareness of God's intent by seeing psychotherapy as a resource for understanding human psychology, development, and needs. Deacon Ray has been inspired by the Catholic Psychotherapy Association (CPA) whose mission is to support mental health practitioners by promoting the development of psychological theory and mental health practice which encompasses a full understanding of the human person, family, and society in fidelity to the Magisterium of the Catholic Church. This book will also foster both the development of a community of CPA members and function as an opportunity for professional development both as therapists and as people of faith. This book most specifically aims to respond to CPA's goal to "Encourage and support the presentation of scholarly work and writing that is relevant to the mission of CPA…" At this early stage of CPA history, a preliminary grouping of resources linked to the normal course of development in the Christian life might appear useful for client seekers as well as therapists, clergy, and teachers. It his hope that his book will contribute to Catholic psychotherapy literature and a jumping off point for others to improve. This volume deals with the beginnings of faith because without faith further steps become impossible. I came to refer to Catholic anthropology rather than Christian anthropology. Though Catholics share many elements of Christian anthropology with other Christian traditions, with the passage of time, the Catholic understanding of the human person has continued to diverge or at least become distinct from the understanding of our brothers and sisters in other religious, even Christian religious, traditions.


Pope Benedict XVI (2010, p. 50-56) advocates that truth is possible and that we need to have the courage to assert the truth as we understand it. For Deacon Ray that means that he does not aim to impose on anyone what he sees as the truth by force. Rather, as Pope Emeritus Benedict puts it, "The truth comes to rule, not through violence, but through its own power; this is the central theme of John's Gospel." To paraphrase Benedict's chapter, he advocated that we have "…criteria for verification and falsification…" (p. 51) but we accept others even if their values are not ours. Too often we do just the opposite: we are relativistic about our values and rejecting of persons with different values. In psychotherapy the only place the client can begin is from where the person is. As a practicing psychotherapist for 40 years Deacon Ray's job was to acknowledge the values of others as theirs, accept that the begins from another place, and to then to get to know and try to understand wherever the other's starting point might be. Readers will see that Deacon Ray's outline is from chapter 13 of Matthew's gospel. That chapter functions as an outline for his purpose of stitching together faith and psychotherapy. Matthew 13:1-52 talks about basic faith and the spiritual life of faith... or the lack thereof. His starting point is intended as an entry point for searchers of all types: the "nones" (White, 2014, 2017) who claim no religious affiliation, the confused, the depressed, the anxious, the skeptical, or the uninformed. Chapter 13 highlights a few basic elements of Christian faith quoting Jesus' own words. The hope is that those words may provide motivation for the uninvolved, food for the starved, and relief for those stuck on their journey in faith or psychological healing. 

About the author

Ray Biersbach was ordained a Catholic deacon for the diocese of Paterson, New Jersey in 1982. He has since served in 6 parishes celebrating the sacraments and contributing homilies. Ray earned a Masters in Religious Education in 1976 and a Doctorate in Counseling Psychology in 1989. Both courses of study were at Fordham University in New York City. Ray has served in continuous pastoral ministry at parishes in New Jersey and more recently in Washington State. Ray and his wife moved there in 2012 to be nearer their grandchildren. His parish ministry has included youth ministry for 35 years, parish religious education organization and implementation, Bible study, sacramental preparation, as well as retreats for teens, and adults. As a certified alcohol and drug for 10 years and then 30 years as a licensed psychologist he worked in both private practices, at Catholic Charities, and as psychology administrator for a psychology department of 20+ at Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital in Morris Plains, New Jersey. Ray's goal in writing is to do his part for the new evangelization with its new methods, new language, and new enthusiasm,. He is specially drawn to those who find faith too confusing, complex, or contradictory. In the 1980s Ray taught pastoral counseling as a graduate school instructor in applied theology at Seton Hall, Immaculate Conception Seminary, and LaSalle University. From 1992 to 2002 he led and taught a post-doctoral institute on assessment and treatment of major mental illnesses especially personality disorders. The institute was sponsored by the State of New Jersey office of training. Over 700 clinicians participated in the training. He received six years of spiritual direction supervision through the Sisters of Charity at Convent Station, New Jersey. He currently works full-time as an author.

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