The issue of psychotherapists' values in psychotherapy has become increasingly challenging as philosophers have questioned the viability of concepts such as objectivity and relativism. Historically, psychotherapists have relied on notions such as bracketing or suspending their own values to avoid the moral and ethical implications that such values might be active in psychotherapy. Acknowledging that psychotherapists' values are active in psychotherapy raises a host of important issues, including how to appropriately navigate value conflicts. This study explored the experience of psychotherapists as they navigate conflicts between their religious and professional values. Qualitative interviews with eight religiously committed psychologists were transcribed and analyzed using Collaborative Hermeneutic Interpretation. Major themes and findings include: the possibility that one can be a religiously committed psychologist; that research topics are informed by religious values; the strengthening of personal values through conflict; there are a variety of values gained from religious affiliation; feeling out of place in religious and professional communities; having religious and philosophical issues broadened and deepened in complexity; knowing when to defend values and worldview; having quality research and reputation as a defense; and positive and negative experiences with supervisors. Participants also discussed what was helpful in preparing them for value conflicts and the preparation they wished they would have received. The findings in this study emphasize the importance of the supervisory relationship and the impact that supervisors can have on trainees as they work through value conflicts. Training programs are also recommended to provide trainees guidance that will help prepare them to navigate potential value conflicts over the course of their professional development.
College and Department
David O. McKay School of Education; Counseling Psychology and Special Education
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Williams, Michael Ray, "Navigating Conflicts Between Religious and Professional Values: Psychologists' Experiences" (2018). Theses and Dissertations. 6933.
religion, values, value conflict, psychologist, hermeneutics