Prayer as medicine.
While a majority of my counselling practice is secular in nature, I am a practicing Christian and if asked can integrate a religious or spiritual aspect to my therapy.
A cornerstone to those with religious beliefs is the notion of prayer. The psychological study of prayer is challenging and has been limited in scope, partly because many researchers are skeptical when it comes to the topic of religion. It is also difficult for scientists to study what is, by definition, unknown: the relationship and involvement of a higher being or power. Despite this, what’s been studied has resulted in some very interesting conclusions.
Some research have shown that prayer is associated with an individual’s calmness, peace and also a reduction in isolation, and anxiety. This, in turn, can have important positive impacts on one’s physiology, including immune system health.
A 2009 study published in the National Library of Medicine concluded that “Direct contact person-to-person prayer may be useful as an adjunct to standard medical care for patients with depression and anxiety.” Study participants involved in prayer show significant improvement of depression, anxiety and optimism when compared to the control group, who did not participate in prayer rituals.
For those not inclined to a spiritual ritual such as prayer, meditation can result in many of the same benefits. Meditation is advocated by myself and by many other therapists for creating a tangible improvement in one’s mental and physical health. I will explore the benefits of meditation and provide some guidance to the practice in a future posting.