.- A conference for Catholic workers in the field of psychotherapy is slated to draw nearly 200 people to Denver. The numbers show an “incredible need” for Catholic therapists to network, fellowship and “understand the faith” together, said organizer Dr. Christina Lynch.
The 2nd annual conference, sponsored by the Catholic Psychotherapy Association, will be held March 25-26 at the Pope John Paul II Center at the Archdiocese of Denver.
The two-day event features talks, workshops and opportunities for networking. Its theme for this year’s conference is: “Implementing the Catholic Faith into Your Practice: Psychotherapy in the Service of the Church.”
Noted speakers include three Colorado bishops: Denver’s Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, Auxiliary Bishop of Denver James D. Conley, and Colorado Springs’ Bishop Michael J. Sheridan.
Dr. Christina Lynch, staff psychologist for St. John Vianney Theological Seminary in Denver, said in a March 11 phone interview that there is an “incredible need” for Catholic psychotherapists to fellowship with one another and be encouraged in the faith.
“So many clinicians have been trained in a secular model,” she said, adding that “not many of them have been trained with the understanding of a Catholic anthropology of the person.”
Lynch said that Catholic therapists convening to learn more about the faith and each other serves “not only for our own catechesis and understanding of the Catholic Church,” but it also effects how “we implement that into our practice.”
The conference organizer said that the number of participants in the 2011 conference has grown exponentially in comparison with last year's event in Atlanta, Georgia.
In 2010, “we expected maybe 20-25 people,” she said, “so we were pretty surprised when 75 people showed up for the conference two hours outside of Atlanta.”
However, this year “we already have almost 200 people signed up and it’s still two weeks away,” she said, calling it “very exciting.”
Participants range not only in expertise and background but also in nationality, as the conference is drawing individuals from Australia, Peru, Canada and all across the U.S.
“We really want to not only network amongst ourselves but also to include students and clergy and religious,” she said, adding that around 25 of those registered are priests of members of religious communities.
Lynch said that the Catholic Psychotherapy Association was formed several years ago out of the desire to help Catholic clinicians “get together and network and find each other.”
“People are so busy and have individual practices and think they're kind of out there all by themselves,” she said.
Lynch, along with other Catholic leaders in the field such as Dr. Kathryn Benes and Dr. William Nordling, “decided that if we formed this organization we could be a network, peer resource for each other and help each other out.”
The group's stated 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 and society in communion with the Magisterium of the Catholic Church.”
Archbishop Chaput – whom Lynch said has been “very supportive” of the initiative – is set to preside over the first day's Mass at the conference. Auxiliary Bishop Conley will celebrate the closing Mass on March 26.
For more conference information is available at: www.catholicpsychotherapy.org/conference