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Psychological assistance and religious direction: analogies, differences, integrations and confusions

Mario Aletti About the author

Psychotherapy and religious counselling have some common features: both are relations based on a help request and their intent is a gradual and personal growth. However, the differences are many and they become clearly visible with reference to the psychoanalytic psychotherapy. Psychoanalytic psychotherapy is a functional and temporary relationship, it is also free and asymmetric; it supposes a specific setting and an abstinence and neutrality rules compliance. These features are just partially present in the spiritual direction which, moreover, there is another purpose (salvation vs psychical well-being) and other means (conscious dialogue vs interpretation of unconscious desires). The interaction between these two help modalities (e.g. the psychotherapy pursued by a religious professional) gives some possible integration, but also many risks of confusion and overlapping roles.

psychoanalytic psychotherapy; spiritual direction; religious counselling; neutrality

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