Episode 22: Spiritually Integrated Psychotherapy – Dr. Kenneth Pargament

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The topic of religion has elicited powerful, passionate responses throughout history.  So it’s not surprising that Dr. Kenneth Pargament’s latest study, which suggests that religious anxiety could increase the risk of death in the elderly, has garnered international attention. 

Pargament, a professor of psychology who has taught at Bowling Green State  University since 1979, has been interviewed by the Washington Post, New York Times, BBC and media from Norway and Japan since the controversial study was published in August.

“A number of studies have shown that religious involvement can help extend life expectancy,” says Pargament, who is also an adjunct professor at Boston University.

“This is the first one that found certain types can be a risk factor for health and mortality. This just kind of shows the other side of religion, that religion can raise fundamental questions for people and pose difficulty for people who get stuck in their struggle.”

Pargament was among the researchers who surveyed 596 elderly hospitalized patients in 1996. Patients who wondered if God had abandoned them, questioned God’s love or thought the devil had a role in their illness were more likely two years later to have died than patients who did not hold such beliefs.

“Having questions about God is not an automatic death sentence,” Pargament says, reiterating a point he has made in all those interviews with the media.

As a psychiatrist himself, Aging Gratefully’s co-host, Dr. Peter Brill, studied at one of the best universities with the one of the broadest perspectives in the country. However, nowhere in his training was spirituality ever mentioned or accepted. And yet there were clear sacred moments that occurred when souls touched in therapy.  Often these were the most important moments of all.  Subsequently, it has become clear that spirituality is essential to life in the Third Age. Dr. Kenneth Pargament has spent his career working to integrate spirituality and psychotherapy. His new book is called Spirituality Integrated Psychotherapy: Understanding and Addressing the Sacred.

Transcript

This program is brought to you by personallifemedia.com

 

Peter Brill:  Hallo and welcome to the Third Age with the doctor and the man from Hollywood. I’m the doctor, Peter Brill, and the man from Hollywood is David Debin. On this show we turn the myths of aging upside down, we sort out the scientific and the trendy, the medical and the cultural and we tell you everything you need to know about living in the third age. Remember we guarantee if you listen to us you will never grow old.

 

David Debin:  Hi, I’m the man from Hollywood, David Debin. The third age usually starts somewhere around 45 or 50 and it’s a time when you start to feel a strong desire for deeper meaning and fulfillment in your life.  Your first age is childhood. Your second age is building your career and raising your family. And the third age is a major change or a transition to a whole new set of problems and values and opportunities. So join us as fellow explorers in this journey to discover what brings passion, purpose, joy into this uncharted time of life.

 

Peter:        Well, as many of you know I’m a psychiatrist. I studied [BABY CRYING LAUGHTER] I don’t know if they could hear that, David. David started screaming. [LAUGHTER]I think he went out the window. Which is pretty good from a windowless room. As many of you know, I’m a psychiatrist – you want to try it again? -- I studied at the best universities with the broadest perspective in the country. Yet nowhere in my training was spirituality ever mentioned or accepted. Yet there were clear sacred moments that happened when our souls touched in therapy and often these were the most important. Subsequently it became clear that spirituality is essential to life in the third age. People who come to our groups or coaching are often searching to find a deepening spirituality and a source of meaning and purpose in their lives. Our guest today, Dr. Kenneth Pargament, I hope I’m pronouncing it right, has spent his career working to integrate spirituality and psychotherapy. His new book is called Spirituality Integrated Psychotherapy: Understanding and Addressing the Sacred. I pray you stay tuned.

David:         That was cute. I like that.  “I pray you to stay tuned.” Well, talking about praying, I did some praying yesterday as it took me 11 hours to get from Las Vegas to my home. I think I could have walked…you know how they prostrate, the pilgrims that go to [INAUDIBLE] they prostrate themselves every step? I think I could have walked and prostrated myself every step and probably beat that.

 

Marissa:      Does swearing count as praying too?

 

Peter:        That’s a good line, Rissie. Let me ask you this, David.

 

David:         Yes. Do I look like a terrorist to you?   


Peter:        Yes. David, what were you doing in Las Vegas?

 

David:        I was giving a speech to the American
Institute of CPA’s about the third age. Many of them are in the third age and about also how to deal with people who are in the third age. And I found out some very interesting things.

Peter:        What did you find out David?

 

David:        I found out that most of them are surprised by the fact that it’s more important to many of their clients for them to have a good personal feel of what their life is like than just to present them with a series of numbers about what they have and what they need.

 

Peter:        All life can be reduced to numbers.

 

David:        It’s the universal language but somehow it doesn’t reach deep enough in many relationships.

Peter:        And in many professional relationships where you’re dealing with people’s lives and money. I mean, it’s perfectly clear. Just think about yourself. I mean, you have a little more life than just the numbers that add up on your investments and taxes.


David:        Absolutely. This was at Caesar’s and it was really well done. There were about 1200 attending the entire 3-day conference, about $1000 a person, so they do pretty good, although their expenses are high. And this was a group of about, I would say, 200 CPA’s and they were really interested. They said that this presentation was really exceptional because usually every speaker talks about the numbers, the business, what to invest, what not to invest, hard times, good times, whatever. This was one of the few times that they heard about the personal aspect of their client, dealing with their clients. So it was great. People loved it.

 

Peter:        That’s great. Well you know what time it is David?

David:        Is it already time? No. It can’t be time.

 

Peter:        It is time David. I’m sorry. It’s time.

 

David:        It’s time for the news story! Well, there’s a couple things that I really want to talk about. One is, the first one is did you hear that story about the guy who fell 47 stories and survived? This is just a follow-up on it. He was discharged from the hospital to begin rehabilitation.  This is not a funny story but this is just an amazing situation. Earlier this month he regained consciousness and incredibly, even began talking to his family and doctors. This was after falling -- it was a scaffolding -- 47 stories.

 

Peter:        This is the funny news story?

 

David:        Yeah, this is the funny news story. But you were talking about spirituality. The doctor said, if you’re a believer in miracles, this would be one. But the real important news story of the day, in anticipation of Valentine’s Day which is coming up next month, pretty soon. For the ladies out there who are interested in a new guy or meeting somebody, it turns out that a very famous person is looking to meet somebody. He is the World’s Hairiest Man and he’s looking for a new love on the internet after breaking up with his girlfriend. He’s Yen Jen Wan, recognized as the World’s Hairiest man by the Guinness Book of Records and he’s using an online dating agency. World’s Hairiest Man, there he is. You can’t see him folks, but… [LAWNMOWER SOUND]

 

David:        He met somebody and they went together for a while and they were going to get married. But he said, we got to know each other through the internet, they’d been seeing for three years but, unfortunately, their relationship came to an end. There are many reasons that I could speculate that might have happened…

 

Peter:        All right. What are the reasons?

 

David:        [LAUGHTER]…but I can’t say any of them on the air without being kicked off by Les Carroll. He added “my whole body is covered with hair and my parents are worried I won’t be able to find a wife. Many girls are shocked when they see me in person.” You know what this is? This is a great reality show! Give the World’s Hairiest Man $5,000,000 and see how many beautiful women we can get to marry him. What do you think? Don’t you think this is a good idea? If you like that idea, call in, let us know, write to us, we’re at the thirdagefoundation.com. Let us know if you like that idea, we’ll get that reality show on the air as quick as possible. So, Marissa, you like this weather?

 

Marissa:  I like it enough except that I have to walk in the rain to school.

 

David:        I see. But it never rains in Santa Barbara, right.

 

Marissa:      Not really.

 

David:        Today is that day.

 

Peter:        Our guest today is Kenneth Pargament who’s a professor of psychology at Bowling Green State University and practicing clinical psychologist. He’s published over 100 research studies on the topic of spirituality and health and has recently published a book entitled Spirituality Integrated Psychotherapy: Understanding and Addressing the Sacred. Welcome to the show Dr. Pargament.

 

Pargament:    Thanks. It’s great to be here.

 

Peter:    I had a question, before we even got started, how do you define spirituality and what does it have to do with music and interpersonal experiences and the color of the sky and so forth. How are we defining spirituality?

 

Pargament:    Well I think of spirituality as what people do to find something sacred in their lives. Not only to find something sacred but to build a relationship with it, hold onto it and at times, transform it. But it centers around the yearning for something that is greater than ourselves.

 

David:        Is there an echo? We’re getting a huge echo. Can you just say it?

 

Peter:        Is there a radio on or is there anything that could be echoing through your…

 

Pargament:    No. I don’t think so. Not on my end here.

 

David:        Okay. I’ll try it. Actually it’s very pleasing to me because I get to hear the sound of my own voice over and over and over, ad infinitum. [LAUGHTER] Sorry about that Dr. Pargament. Is it something that they want to find or something that they want to connect with and is it possible to connect with something that’s bigger than yourself?

 

Pargament:    Well, it seems to be something we may be born with, that kind of yearning for something beyond ourselves. I think as infants it may take the form of an all-protective and loving parent. But even children at a very young age have what we call spiritual experiences where they feel some kind of connection with something beyond themselves or some sense of deeper reality within themselves.  And these experiences can be moving and even life changing for even young children. So I think it’s something that we may take into the world or bring with us as we enter the world.

 

Peter:        You say in your book “how the absence of spirituality can result in feelings of loss and emptiness, questions of meaning and purpose and a sense of alienation and abandonment and cries of injustice and unfairness.” How is that true?

 

Pargament:    Well, because I think we’re motivated to have a relationship with something sacred. When we lose it, it may be the greatest loss of all. We’re used to thinking major life traumas, accident, injury, death, natural disaster as events that affect us psychologically, socially and physically. But they can also affect us spiritually because they can challenge our deepest beliefs and sense of what’s most important in life, particularly if we feel that’s been shaken or lost. So a divorce, a death, whatever, it may be a fundamental loss of the things that we hold most sacred in our lives and that makes it all the more difficult to resolve.

 

Peter:        But in the third age we find people that come to us continuously who may or may not have had any spiritual or religious background, some have, some haven’t, but are on what seems to be a major spiritual quest and it has these exact feelings in it.

 

Pargament:    It’s so interesting that the questions and the doubts and the feelings of loss can be terrible sources of pain and problems but they can also be a fork in the road that leads to growth and renewal and transformation. And so what we find in our own research is that spiritual struggles are, in fact, this turning point in life. And some people use these struggles as platforms or launching pads for incredible growth. But we also find that some people get stuck in their struggles. They’re not able to work them through. And they experience pain, loss and we’ve even found that spiritual struggles increase the likelihood of death if they’re not resolved.

 

David:        What did you think of the revelations from Mother Theresa’s diary that she was forsaken for so many years and still tried to walk that path? Was that something that was interesting?

 

Pargament:    Absolutely. And I think that was a wonderful example of the point that spiritual struggles can be again, a motivation for development and growth and wonderful acts but they can also be sources of pain and grief and struggle and loss and sometimes people experience both at the same time. What’s remarkable to me about Mother Theresa’s story is how she was able to persevere and persist in her faith in spite of the deep questions that she held. So I thought her story was actually pretty inspirational.

 

Peter:        You know when I was trained in psychotherapy, many years ago, we never mentioned or asked a question about spirituality or religion.  Except to try to free people, I suppose, if we had a Catholic we might think that they felt unusually guilty and try to find a way to free them from that guilt. That’s about as far as we would pursue some of these questions. And yet you’re advocating a change to that.

 

Pargament:    This is a…you might even call it revolutionary change. Most students and graduate students and medical students have an average of zero classes in religion and spirituality and that’s in spite of the fact that the patients they’ll see are, in fact, on average, believers in God, church attendees and people who will draw on their religion and spirituality as one of their most important resources when they encounter troubles. So the lack of training in this area is really kind of shocking, even breathtaking.

 

Peter:        Is there good evidence that spirituality makes a difference physically in terms of how long people live or how healthy they are or how well their marriages function?

 

Pargament:    There’s a lot of evidence that’s accumulated over the last twenty years that show that persistent links between spirituality and health. For instance, a number of studies people have shown that people who attend church regularly live on the average seven years longer than infrequent church attenders. And actually for African-Americans it looks like there’s a 14 year increase in life expectancy for frequent church attenders. It’s not just one study. Those findings have been repeated. So people are interested now in well what is it about church attendance that may instill longer life. But a fascinating finding.

 

Peter:        Do they drink less?

 

Pargament:    Well possibly. That’s one possibility that they drink less. Or maybe they have more social support or maybe they are able to have a better or a stronger resilience to life problems. My own theory is that it’s the uplifting music. And particularly in African-American churches where you have really powerful emotions and music expressed. But you’ve got to keep in mind that if that’s the case, then it’s possible that bad church music could work the opposite way. It could kill you.

 

David:        Or we could also say “dead heads live longer.” A new bumper sticker.

 

Peter:        You were interested in where you could get the study.
    

David:         I was interested in what that study is. It really is fascinating to me.

 

Pargament:    Well that study was published in a journal called Demography. But actually there’s a review of probably about 20 studies of this kind that’s been published as well in what they call, the fancy term is a meta-analysis, that’s been published that shows these findings are pretty persistent and powerful. On the other hand, as I mentioned, the flip side is that people who report struggles with God, feeling punished by God, feeling that the devil is at work in their lives, we’ve shown that they are more likely to die over the next two years. So you can see that religion and spirituality can be a double-sided coin. That they can be resources for people but they can also be sources of trouble at the same time.

 

David:        Okay, so now…what are we looking at? We’ve got a break coming up? I’m so fascinated, I didn’t even see we were going on to take a break. Dr. Pargament, please stay with us.

 

Pargament:    You’re having a spiritual

 

David:        That’s right. We’ll be right back with The Third Age. Don’t go away.

 

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Peter:    Well, welcome back to The Third Age. I’m one of your co-hosts, Dr. Peter Brill. I’m here with Marissa Scarvasi. And also tagging along is David Debin, the man from Hollywood. Our guest today is Dr. Kenneth Pargament, who’s professor of psychology at Bowling Green State University, did I get it right that time? He’s done over 100 research studies, published over 100 research studies on spirituality and health. You mentioned a study, maybe at our break next, you mentioned a meta-analysis of various studies that document longevity and health and spirituality. So we’ll try to get that. David, you were in the midst of asking a question.

 

David:    I was? I know what it was. I know what my question is. I was giving a speech yesterday. In our program, Dr. Pargament, we talk a lot about the importance of spirituality and the spiritual connection. And somebody asked me how do you make that spiritual connection? And I sort of gave him an answer but I think you could probably give them a better answer. How does someone who asks that question, how do you make a spiritual connection, what do you tell him to be able to enable him to do so?

 

Pargament:    Well, what’s interesting is that there are lots of paths to building a relationship with something spiritual or sacred. That’s part of the power of spiritual life that people can approach it in so many ways. So part of the answer to the question depends on the kind of person that you are and which pathway resonates most with who you are.  For instance, there’s the pathway of experience and nowadays a lot of people try to foster a relationship with the sacred through some kind of spiritual experience. It may be an experience outdoors, listening to music, a mystical experience, meditation or prayer. For some people, spirituality is fostered by practices. And the practices may be being involved in altruistic activities, or volunteering in the community or being in loving relationships with family and friends. Other people, their way to spirituality is through study and understanding and their beliefs so it may take traditional forms like bible study or it may take non-traditional forms. For instance, I tend to think of my own interest in science as a spiritual activity, trying to make some sense out of the mysteries of the world and uncover them to some extent. So lots of paths to the sacred.


Peter:        Let’s go on to the therapy part of it. You tell a story in there…I’d like to try to find a way for our listeners…a lot of people have been in therapy or know about therapy. Why is spirituality important for therapy?


Pargament:    Well, for a couple of reasons. One is, for some people spirituality may be one of the most potent resources that they have for resolving their problems. It’s not something, as you noted earlier, that we’re trained to address and yet for many people, it’s the spiritual resource that may be key to the solution. And the second point is, on the flip side, is for some people coming to therapy, spirituality is involved in the problem itself. And so the problem they may be experiencing could be spiritual in nature. May be a loss of meaning, a loss of purpose or maybe feeling punished by God. These things, these kinds of problems can lie at the root of other problems that they’re presenting -- depression and anxiety. But whether it’s the solution or the problem, it needs to be part of the conversation in the therapy room.
    

Peter:    I would love it if you’d tell Alice’s story, briefly on the air, so people could get a feeling for it.

 

David:        Is that something from the book?

 

Peter:        Yeah. From the book.

 

Pargament:    Oh sure. Well this is I think, one of the stories that’s really moved me and guided me in my own work. Alice was a woman in her 40’s who came to my office suffering from bi-polar illness. She’d been treated by a number of psychiatrists and psychologists over the years. Alice was a very plain looking woman, no make-up, but she did have a sparkle in her eyes and I liked her right away. She talked about a life of ups and downs, a real roller coaster of emotions from manic periods to periods of the deepest depression when she’d feel suicidal and end up in the hospital. And I worked with Alice for probably a year trying to help offer something different, but I wasn’t any more successful than the legion of therapists and people before me and she was hospitalized a few times over the year. Initially when I asked Alice about her religious or spiritual interests she said that wasn’t really relevant to her. But there was a moment about a year into the therapy, where she was again very depressed, crying hysterically and I thought “Oh gosh. She’s talking about suicide. I’m going to have to hospitalize her again.”

 

But this time she said, “Oh when will my suffering end?” And the way she said it, it sounded biblical, almost like a lamentation and so I responded in kind of like kind and I said, “Where do you turn to for solace in the midst of your suffering?” That’s not the way I usually talk, by the way. I don’t usually talk about turning to solace, but it seemed appropriate for Alice.

 

And she stopped and she said, “Well I never told anybody this before but the first time I was hospitalized when I was 13 or 14 I was in restraints and I was so frightened and so scared and then I had this warm feeling start through the center of my body and it spread through my chest. And that warm feeling spoke to me.”

 

And I said, “Well what did that warm feeling say?” And she said, “It said: I’m with you. I’ll always be with you. And I’ll be with you for the rest of your life no matter how bad it gets.”

 

I said, “Wow! Who did you think that feeling was? Who was that voice talking to you?”

 

She said, “That was God telling me that no matter, what he’d always be with me.” A very moving moment. I said, “Have you ever had that feeling since?” She said, “Well yeah, sure. I have it whenever I’m at my worst moments and I have it when I’m with people who care about me. You know, like now. Don’t you feel it?”

 

And you mentioned earlier sacred moments in therapy and that was one for me. And I told her, yeah. I did feel it. And the interesting thing was in this conversation that while she was talking about this mystical, sacred experience, she had stopped crying and we spent the rest of the session just talking about spirituality in her life and I didn’t need to hospitalize her. And I asked her as we were leaving, I said “Alice, why haven’t you talked about it with other people, with other therapists?” And she said, “Well they already think I’m crazy.” And that was a turning point and after that moment we spent a lot of time speaking about spirituality and how she might be able to access it more fully in her life. And she was never hospitalized again, after that time, with one exception for just a brief period.

 

Peter:        That’s amazing, amazing story to me.  The thing that I, I just want to clarify for our listeners. We’re not necessarily talking about any particular religion here. We’re not talking necessarily Christianity or…right? I mean we’re talking spirituality.

 

Pargament:    Well, that’s right. And it’s so fascinating what I find that for some people who come in and see themselves as devout people sometimes religious issues aren’t really relevant to the problem or the solution. And then there are some people who see themselves as atheists or non-religious and non-spiritual and it turns out spiritual matters really lie at the heart of the problem.

 

Peter:        How do you tell? As a clinician? How does a person tell in themselves?

 

Pargament:    That’s why therapy is such an art form. Because there is no easy answer. Just asking people direct questions about it often doesn’t yield an answer because lots of time people don’t even know or sometimes they’re not willing to share something so intimate right away. It takes time to build a relationship and it takes time to help people discover really what’s going on inside them. And it does take some practice and experience in learning how to talk about sacred matters and frankly showing a willingness and an interest on the part of the therapist to listen to someone’s spiritual story. If we as mental health professionals are open to asking the questions and listening to people’s rich spiritual stories, people have a lot to teach us.


David:        Great. We’re going to think about that for two minutes and then we’re going to be back with Dr. Pargament who wrote this really fascinating book, Spiritually Integrated Psychotherapy, Understanding
and Addressing the Sacred. We’ll be right back.

 

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Peter:    We’re back. I’m Dr. Peter Brill. This is the Third Age. I’m here with David Debin, my co-host, and Marissa Scarvasi. Our guest today is Dr. Kenneth Pargament a professor who’s written a book, Spiritually Integrated Psychotherapy, Understanding and Addressing the Sacred. Dr. Pargament, where can people get your book? Hallo? They couldn’t hear you. Say it again. Where can they get your book?

 

Pargament:    They can order it online from Amazon or they can order it from Guilford Press which is the publishing site. They can Google my name, Kenneth Pargament, and it’s right there on the first page. It’s actually called Spiritually Integrated Psychotherapy.

 


Peter:        I’m sorry.

 

Pargament:    That’s okay.

 

Peter:        What I’d like to do now, I kind of see the progression that we do from the sick, the pathological sick, the normal, the super normal, transcendent, so forth and I’m wondering, for our listeners now, what the insights that you have derived from bringing psychotherapy which is a form of interaction of people about problems or about life, how they can use those insights in the general life to move from wherever they are, up that spectrum.


Pargament:    I think what spirituality adds to psychology and psychotherapy is helping people come to terms with human limitations. Psychology, psychiatry are really good at helping people develop more control in their lives. Either through self-understanding or better communication, developing our personal strengths.  But the fact is that not all problems are controllable and no matter how well we try to make the most of our skills, sooner or later we run into situations that reminds us we’re limited and human. But in spirituality you hear a language that’s unfamiliar to psychology. Things like letting go and surrender, humility, forgiveness and transformation. And I think almost all problems have elements of the controllable and the uncontrollable. And so integrating spiritual values and resources in our lives is I think what helps make us more completely human.

 

Peter:        Let me give you an example and see if you agree with it. In all the studies and all the psychotherapy -- I had lots of psychotherapy, I’m a basket case. They had to treat me many, many times, all unsuccessfully. Anyway, the end result of it is through all that psychotherapy, not once did they ever mention something like say, gratitude or doing meditations, affirmations, that is speaking to yourself about what to be grateful for in your life. Now that’s a change in perspective, right? A change in vocabulary. Is that what you’re talking about?

 

Pargament:    Absolutely. I think you’ve hit it on the head. When I went to grad school, like a lot of people, I went into the field because I was interested in what makes people tick, I wanted to get to the heart of really important issues. But in my training at least, I found that something was missing. We were taught that we’re shaped by our environment, we’re shaped by our early childhood, we’re shaped by our biology but something is missing. And that something is that deeper aspect of ourselves. We also are people who strive and seek something beyond just the daily experience and there is a deeper dimension to ourselves and concepts like transcendence, and gratitude and letting go and transformation and forgiveness I think get at that deeper dimension that has been missing in psychology and psychiatry for a long time and it’s exciting to see that it’s finally catching on.

 

Peter:        It really is. And David and I have a Seven Step model that we try to use for people in the Third Age. And the very first step is what we call Awareness of Spiritual Energy. You have to start there to get the energy to face this stage of life. So you’d agree with that?

 

Pargament:    Absolutely. I think it’s the core of who we are. How do you move people forward if you don’t address the issues that are of deepest importance?

 

David:        How do you think spirituality helps you after you die? [LAUGHTER] No I’m serious.

 

Peter:        Does it help your longevity? Is that what you’re saying?

 

David:        Believe it or not, it’s a serious question.

 

Peter:        I’m sorry.

 

Pargament:    Well it’s the kind of question that we can’t study through our scientific methods because there’s no way of knowing scientifically what happens when people die. But certainly your beliefs and your faith in a life after death has implications for how you live your life. And implications for how other people come to terms with death as well. We know that people who have ways of putting life and death in perspective seem to live more fulfilling lives than people who don’t really have a place to put it.

 

David:        That’s very true. But I’ll tell you something that I found out just by working with the CPA’s. Not that I found out that I knew. But that I found out that I knew. I opened my mouth and it came out. Spirituality can help you after you die by helping the people that you leave behind. In other words, when you’re in touch with your spiritual center and your spiritual energy, there’s a very deep love that you have access to and it’s a bond that forms with the people in your life who you love and when you die, that’s what’s left of you. What’s really left of you is that, and the word was legacy, because we were talking with estate planners, but there’s a legacy there that you leave, just as interesting in many ways as life insurance that benefits the people who you love when you die, I think your spiritual connection is just as important. And yes, I know that we don’t know what happens to you when you’re gone but we certainly know that if you care about people when you’re alive, certain people, those people will continue to be cared about after you’re gone.

 

Peter:        To add to what you’re saying, David, the studies show that there is no correlation whatsoever above a certain income level or a certain amount of money whatsoever. So it may be far more important, that legacy that you’re leaving them.

 

Pargament:    That’s a wonderful example. And actually thinking about your spiritual legacy isn’t something that you should be doing simply at the latter part of your life. It’s really a question that people can ask of themselves even in an earlier age. Adolescence. Young adulthood. Asking what is it that you want to leave behind? What are the values that you believe are permanent values? What is the message you want to pass on to the people who live behind you or following you? It’s a wonderful question that can help shape more meaningful lives.

 

Peter:        We’re fortunate that we have a young person here, in our studio that we can ask that. What do you think, Marissa? What would be your answer to that question?

 

Marissa:      I think for me I’d want to have a happy family, just be with people you like. I don’t think money matters as much as happiness. Or, I don’t know…I want to be able to be surrounded by those that will love me.

 

David:        What about your spiritual legacy? What do you think about that?

 

Marissa:       Spiritual legacy. That’s a tough one.

 

Pargament:    Marissa, that may be inherently spiritual. Talking about leaving loving relationships and people who love and care about you. That may be very much spiritually meaningful for you. For a lot of people, love is one of the central spiritual values. So love and the sacred are often intimately connected.

 

David:        I think love is the sacred, one could say actually. We have really highly enjoyed this conversation. I hope it’s been as good for you as it has been for us, spiritually speaking and in every other way.  Your book is Spiritually Integrated Psychotherapy, Understanding and Addressing the Sacred.  You are Dr. Kenneth Pargament. We are The Third Age and we want to thank you for being with us. And come back please sometime and talk to us again.

 

Pargament:    My pleasure.

 

David:        Hang in there. We’ll be right back.

 

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Peter:    Well, boy. I tell you. Talk about spiritual. Welcome back to The Third Age. I’m here with David Debin and Marissa Scarvasi. And we’ve been talking about spirituality and integrated psychotherapy, putting them together, badly needed, major change in the field. It was interesting, I was reading this book recently about extraordinary knowing which is this lady who had this incredible spiritual experience and she got together a section in the American Psychological Association, which they’re talking about people having extraordinary spiritual events in their lives. And some of the most famous people in all of psychology came to talk about, and they were ashamed of their experiences, but they came to relate, and…. Also, she interviewed some people and there was a neurologist who’s world famous, goes and operates on kings and famous people, and he had headaches and he came to her as a patient. And when she got into talking to him, it turned out he’d stopped teaching. And when she asked him about why he’d stopped teaching. And he said, “Well, my problem is before I operate I go down and sit at the patient’s bed. And if there’s not a white light around the patient’s head I don’t operate because I know it’s not going to work. How do I tell my students that?”

 

David:    That’s a tough one. You’d be kicked out of school for that. Hey listen, if you’re out there, if you’ve been listening to this really interesting discussion on psychotherapy, and life itself. You’re going to really enjoy the workshop that we do. Actually there are two of them. One is on February 23, coming up, it’s a Saturday. It’s at Antioch University. There’s going to be a lot of this spiritual discussion in terms of the third age. And also at City College, that’s the Adult Extension, on March 22 at the Shot Center. We’re doing another workshop at which we will also talk about how to integrate this very, very important aspect of life into your third age and maybe get you over some of the trials and tribulations that you’re dealing with just in terms of what this change of life is bringing.

 

Peter:    So that you can get the absolute most out of this stage of your life.  By the way, you can find both these locations and also how to enroll by going to our website, www.thirdagefoundation.org. Or you can call us 805-969-9794

 


David:    This is David Debin for Peter Brill and the Third Age…we have another minute? Stretch it out….These are some great people that are helping to bring us to you and some of this stuff that you’re learning on this show, and we’re learning along with you, is because these people are interesting.

 

Peter:    We’ll be back next time for another journey into the Third Age.

 

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