Preface to the first academic conference in Israel on the integration of spirituality in psychotherapy and counselling
The interest in spirituality and spiritual development has been an inherent part of human nature throughout generations and across cultures. However, the acceptance of spirituality as a legitimate field of research and science in psychology is relatively new. For many years, psychotherapy's relationship to spirituality was characterized by reservation, suspicion, and separation. In the current high-speed era of constant stimulation and instability, there is a growing recognition of the importance of the spiritual dimension of human existence as well as growing understanding of the centrality of the human longing for the transcendent and the sacred. These insights are reflected in a significant increase in the development of both research and practices, which now seek to integrate spiritual aspects in therapy and counselling as a central and universal element of optimal human development.
This inaugural conference constitutes a historical event in Israel, for it emphasizes the connection between spirituality and psychotherapy and a breakthrough in the academic realization of the significance of the spiritual dimension and its application in psychotherapy. The opening keynote lecture will be given by Prof. Kenneth Pargament, one of the world's leading researchers and clinicians in this field. The conference also presents some of the varied applications of spirituality in clinical practice as well as the developing research in this area.
We hope that this conference will open gateways to the integration of spirituality in clinical practice and academic research and will promote a dialogue among clinicians and researchers on spirituality as a central dimension of human experience. We also hope that the conference will promote the creation of a community and a network of therapists and researchers interested in further studying and implementing the many possibilities inherent in this combination. There are already various activities aimed at promoting the connection between spirituality and psychotherapy, including the opening of a master's program specializing in integrative psychotherapy mind-body-spirit at the University of Haifa, and the future publication of an issue of the Journal of the Israeli Psychological Association that will be devoted to this vital combination of therapy and spirit.
We wish that the gathering of all of us on this day will allow a space in which we can experience grace and kindness and celebrate the unique and remarkable connection between spirituality and psychotherapy.
Prof. Ofra Mayseless
Dr. Pninit Russo-Netzer
The Center for the Study of Spirituality
A multi-university center based at the University of Haifa
(The center has been approved by the University of Haifa and is currently under construction)
This inaugural conference is sponsored by the center
and reflects one of the avenues by which the center promotes its vision
The Center's Objectives are:
- Advocating for a broad, humanistic and especially pluralistic spirituality and its benevolent potential, and legitimizing the study and research of spirituality
- Promoting the study and research of spirituality and spiritual and personal growth processes
- Supporting and encouraging the use of such scientifically based knowledge by individuals, organizations, public institutions and policy makers through a variety of ways of dissemination and through translational research in diverse fields such as education, psychotherapy, the health system, business organizations, and inter-group relations.
Refreshments will be served during the conference
Dr. Pninit Russo-Netzer Prof. Ofra Mayseless
Academic Committee Members (in alphabetical order):
Dr. Dana Amir, Dr. Aviva Berkovich-Ohana, Prof. Ofra Mayseless,
Dr. Marianna Ruah-Midbar Shapiro, Dr. Pninit Russo-Netzer,
Dr. Avihu Shoshana, Prof. Nurit Yirmiya
Ms. Pnina Ohana