Free Catholic psychotherapy workshop series to be open to public
By Roxanne King

.- A free series of workshops usually available only to Catholic psychotherapists will be open to all interested people starting tomorrow, Oct. 14.

The five-session teleconference to be led by Catholic psychotherapist Suzanne Baars, a frequent contributor to EWTN, will be offered monthly and will focus on affirmation therapy.

“This approach to therapy is a result of the work of Suzanne Baars’ father Dr. Conrad Baars, a Catholic psychiatrist,” explained Dr. Christina Lynch, staff psychologist for St. John Vianney Theological Seminary in Denver.

“His treatment approach in the areas of scrupulosity, obsessive-compulsive disorder, emotional deprivation disorder, and other areas of difficulty has been revolutionary.”

According to Conrad Baars and his colleague Dr. Anna Terruwe, criticism, neglect, abuse or emotional rejection in childhood can result in stunted emotional growth. Such “unaffirmed” individuals are incapable of emotional maturity without first receiving authentic affirmation from another person.

In affirmation therapy, the therapist aids healing by revealing the client’s innate goodness.

“Genuine … affirmation enables clients to not only know but feel their own goodness, paves the way for the client’s gradual emotional growth, and facilitates the disappearance of the symptoms of deep feelings of inferiority, inadequacy, uncertainty and insecurity,” Suzanne Baars said.

The workshops are being offered to the public as an encouragement to learn more about this therapeutic approach and to provide a networking opportunity to Catholic psychotherapists and students across the country, Lynch said.

Based on the teachings of St. Thomas Aquinas, Lynch said the Catholic approach to psychology integrates the Christian concept of the human being with sound psychological principles. Baars, who is a licensed professional counselor in Dallas, where she operates her private practice, In His Image Christian Counseling, often presents the work of her late father.

“People who would be interested in these teleconferences would be professional counselors who wish to develop a firm foundation for their therapy in the anthropology of St. Thomas Aquinas—specifically as to how his treatise of the passions (emotions) can be utilized in therapy,” Baars said. “Also, laypersons, as well as priests, seminarians, consecrated persons, etc., who seek understanding of their emotional life and how it may be integrated with reason, will and the spiritual life, would benefit greatly from hearing this approach to integrating St. Thomas’ anthropology with modern psychology.”

The workshop series will consist of an hour-long teleconference lecture followed by time for questions. Topics will be: Aquinas and affirmation therapy; the role of the emotions as psychic motors; the repressive process; from affectivity and effectivity to affirmation; and the therapist as affirmer. The series is set for 7 p.m. MDT on Oct. 14, Nov. 11 and Dec. 16 and will continue in 2011 on Jan. 13 and Feb. 10. Call  712-432-6100 and enter participant code No. 71034 followed by the pound sign (#).

To register, visit www.catholicpsychotherapy.org. The lectures will also be available as podcasts at the same website.

The workshop series aims to build awareness of the Catholic Psychotherapy Association, Lynch said, and to provide a preview of what people will experience at the organization’s second annual conference, set for March 25-26 at the John Paul II Center in Denver. Conference theme is “Implementing the Catholic Faith Into Your Practice.”

“All those interested in supporting the promotion of Catholic values in psychotherapy are welcome to become members of the Catholic Psychotherapy Association,” said Lynch, who serves as secretary for the group’s board of directors.

Local CPA members will host the upcoming conference. Last year’s conference held in Dawsonville, Ga., drew 75 attendees from more than 20 states.

“I was pleasantly surprised at the number of people who came to our inaugural conference outside Atlanta in April and hope our numbers this coming March will be even greater,” said Baars, who is a founding member of the CPA. “I enjoyed meeting so many people who share my desire to have a place to come and be able to share and integrate the Catholic faith into professional practice.  Moreover, the presentations were of great help to any professional therapist, offering a depth of knowledge that helps form and support our members.”

Printed with permission from the Denver Catholic Register, newspaper for the Archdiocese of Denver.

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