in the Catholic Mystic Tradition
Psychotherapy and Spiritual Direction
Spiritual Counsels |
Psychotherapy in the Catholic Mystic Tradition |
The Difference Between Psychotherapy and Spiritual Direction |
Telephone Work |
Cost, Length, and Frequency of Sessions |
Making a Payment |
Scheduling a Consultation
E-mail Questions |
Following the Spiritual Counsels |
OU can coast into
hell on an empty tank of gas, but an uphill climb is required to attain
justice, peace, and the joy that is given by the Holy Spirit
(Romans 14:17). So what more can be said?
Do you have the need for
help from Catholic psychology? Are you
seeking psychotherapy from a Catholic
If you need more than the self-help
provided on this website, I can provide you with professional guidance through
spiritual direction or through traditional psychotherapy.
Before contacting me,
however, please review the following information about my professional credentials and office
policies that is found on my associated website A Guide to Psychology
and its Practice:
Including the cost of treatment and a description of my professional credentials,
training, and experience
IN THE CATHOLIC MYSTIC TRADITION
ONLY true psychotherapy
in the Catholic mystic tradition is prayer and
combined with a sincere study of the faith. Its
that simple. If only we did exactly what Christ told us to doto turn
away from the satisfactions of the world so as to pray
constantly and live chaste and humble lives
filled with loving sacrifices for the
salvation of other soulswe would be spiritually
and mentally healthy.
Many individuals through the
ages have found healing for their emotional pain in this way. But such healing
requires total surrender to God. Its all or nothing.
Psychotherapy in the
Catholic tradition requires that you take up relentless, persistent prayer to
God (and to the saints and angels for their intercession) that you will grow
in holiness, and, at the same time, you must force yourself to maintain
a calm trust in Gods protection and guidance despite your fears
of admitting your own helplessness and despite your impatience
with things not happening as quickly as you want.
And its a sad truth that
in todays world, despite our prayers and
confessions, many Catholics do not live lives
completely ordered to the commands of Christ. We are
afraid of making the total surrender to Him that Christ
asked us to make. Despite our best conscious intentions we constantly encounter
psychological obstructions that hold us back from living
Accordingly, many individuals
today need psychotherapy to help them overcome the unconscious
resistances to doing the very things they know consciously they
should be doing.
Between Catholic Psychotherapy
and Spiritual Direction
Psychotherapy (often referred
to colloquially as therapy) has as its objectiveeven when
informed by the Catholic faiththe resolution of psychological
conflicts that produce psychiatric
are created by hidden emotional resentments, beginning in childhood and
continuing throughout life. These resentments can so erode your confidence
and self-esteem with feelings of anger,
victimization, self-blame, and
self-punishment that they affect not only your
mental health but also your social health and spiritual health.
In fact, individuals
caught up in their unconscious defenses dont really
desire to serve God. Deep in their hearts they
use the name of God only as an excuse to serve their own pride.
And why is this?
Well, you may not want to admit this to yourself, but all of us have dark and
hateful thoughts and imaginings that we keep shrouded
in secrecy and dont want to reveal to anyone, especially not to a psychologist.
How many times have you said to yourself, If people knew what I was really like,
they would never want anything to do with me? But the more you try to hide the
truth of your life from others, the more you hide it from yourself, and the more you
fall into pridethe pride of doing everything your way.
Now, many various
theories and techniques have been developed since the early 1900s when Sigmund
Freud formulated the concept of psychoanalysis. All of these techniques have
one basic objective: to help us do the things we would like to do, but,
by ourselves, cannot manage to do.
Some of these techniques are
based in conscious, rational thought processes.
techniques, for example, focus specifically on changing thoughts and behaviors.
Note that vocal prayer is the pre-eminent form
of Cognitive-Behavioral therapy.
and reasoning are also forms of psychotherapy. Note that this has
been a preferred method of Christian psychotherapy, beginning with Christ
Himself, continuing with the Apostles, and fully exemplified by men such
as St. Thomas Aquinas, whose work is often recalled by modern Catholics in
their practice of psychotherapy, and St. Ignatius of Loyola in his Spiritual
Still, some persons develop such
deep resistance to changing their lives for the good that psychotherapy must
reach deep into their unconscious minds, well past their conscious
Imagery helps you visualize things that could or might happen so that
you can achieve them or avoid them in the future. Note that St. Ignatius
of Loyola anticipated this concept in his Spiritual
Prayer (or contemplative prayer) calls upon unconscious mental processes
to allow profound inspiration by the Holy Spirit. Note that Catholic mystics
through the ages have had much to say about this.
can be interpreted to help you understand emotional elements of your life
that you have not yet recognized consciously. Note that the Book of Daniel
provides a practical example of this, while the Book of Sirach (34:5) warns
us that dreams are not meant to be taken as predictions of actual future
Therefore, in the form of
psychotherapy I practice, and as I describe on this website, you can be
guidedthrough the sacraments, vocal and mental
prayer, fasting, study,
and the insight resulting from the psychotherapeutic relationshipinto
understanding the roots of your unconscious conflicts; you can learn to identify
the events of life that have wounded you and to understand the emotions
surrounding those events.
That is, its not enough
just to know intellectually what
happenedit is important to feel the pain and then be able to identify
and name the emotions associated with your pain.
This process happens through
your speaking with your psychotherapist so as to interpret
connections through spontaneous associations to your intellectual memories
and through other techniques, such as dream
Eventually, you can recover a
full awareness of your emotional life that in childhood you learned to suppress
as a psychological defense.
The goal of all
this work is not to blame your parents for what they failed to do
but to get past your hidden resentments
at your parents for what they failed to do, so that you can take full
responsibility for your life and ultimately
your parents and honor them. Remember, so long as you have unconscious
resentment for your parents, it will be impossible for you to honor
themand trying to honor them without admitting your unconscious resentments
for them is just a lie.
for Emotional Awareness
Some persons will say that they
want nothing to do with touchy-feeley psychology and will insist
that their lives are quite fine without it. Those who say this, however,
have usually experienced family dysfunctions such as alcoholism, or emotional,
physical, or sexual abuse. In an environment of lying, broken promises, arguing,
and violence, they grew to fear emotions as something
Nevertheless, in order to live
a true Christian lifestyle, everyone, male and female, needs to be able to
manage his or her internal emotional reactions to external events, so as
to remain always in a place of Christian purity of heart. Two common
emotional traps illustrate this.
Lets say that someone says
something critical to you. Your immediate reaction, based upon learned behavior
from childhood, will be to defend yourself. That can provoke more criticism,
and more arguing, until you get so exasperated that you start saying hateful
and vengeful things. And right there you have abandoned purity of heart and
fallen into sin.
Lets say youre on
your way home from work and suddenly you feel a temptation. To stop at a
bar and drink. To use drugs. To shoplift. To stop at a strip club. To get
a massage from a prostitute. To
masturbate. And right there you have abandoned
purity of heart and fallen into sin.
Emotional awareness, therefore,
is a psychological tool that provides protection from sin.
Interpersonal conflicts result from failed emotional communication. Temptations
do not just appear out of nowhere; behind every temptation is an emotional
reaction to some event that has shaken your self-confidence. It is impossible
to stay in the place of Christian purity of heart if you fail to understand
your emotional reactions to the events around you.
Thus through psychotherapy you
can learn to respond to every moment of the present with a complete understanding
of the emotions involvedand this understanding gives you the ability
and appropriately to the situation.
if someone says something that hurts you, you can say to yourself, OK.
Im feeling helpless and abandoned. In the midst of these feelings,
you can recognize how you responded
to similar feelings as a child. Then you can choose an appropriate,
non-defensive, mature, and psychologically
response to your current feelings.
But if you
havent done your psychological work, instead of naming your feelings
you will just feel a vague yucky inadequacy and
go off and drown the yuck with food or drugs or some other dysfunctional
behavior. And the sad thing is that when you drown the yuck you drown the
possibility of forgiveness with it.
Spiritual direction seeks to,
well, direct a person in ways that bring him or her closer to living a holy
In spiritual direction you learn
to surrender yourself to total trust in God so that, no matter what happens
to you, you can bring the pain before God and ask for the strength and courage
to deal, in imitation of Christ, with what needs to be done in any
Because of deep psychological
conflicts, however, many persons find it difficult
to make a total surrender to God, and they discover that education and reasoning
do little to overcome their resistances. In this case, psychotherapeutic
techniques must be used to understand and overcome the
fear that puts up an obstacle to the spiritual
purgation necessary for living a
When I conduct spiritual
directioneven over the telephone (see below)I use some of the
same techniques for working with the
that I use in psychotherapy. Unconscious
conflicts can often result in spiritual
stagnation, so working to understand unconscious
motivation can be a large part of spiritual
direction. But in spiritual direction the resolution of such conflicts is
directed toward ever greater trust in God, not toward the specific relief
I cannot conduct psychotherapy
per se over the telephone for two reasons. First, because my professional
license has been granted by the state of California, I cannot provide clinical
psychological services to anyone outside the state of California. Secondly,
and even if a person were located in California, psychotherapy really has
to be conducted face-to-face to be most effective. Without this face-to-face
contact, it isnt possible, for example, to make a clinical assessment
of a persons mental status, nor is it possible to assess the body language
of deception. Although some psychotherapists will provide telephone
psychotherapy, it can be problematic, and I simply elect not to do
Because spiritual direction does
not require the face-to-face intensity of psychotherapy, and because I can
assume that a person of faith is not deliberately
to me, spiritual direction can be conducted over the telephone. In fact,
the partial anonymity of telephone work can be quite similar to the anonymity
and Frequency of Sessions
I make my living providing
psychotherapy and spiritual direction, so I have to charge for my time according
to the going rate for a professional of my
in San Francisco: $150 per hour.
When I conduct spiritual direction
over the telephone, sessions can range from 30 minutes ($75) to 90 minutes
Sessions can be weekly, bi-weekly,
monthly, or only as needed, according to your personal preference.
Payment for telephone work
can be made by PayPal, by credit card (Master Card, Visa, Discover, or American
Express) or by personal check.
To schedule a consultation, contact
me by e-mail (no need to send a donation to
ensure a response) and we can arrange a day and time. I will provide a telephone
number for you to call. (Note that you will initiate all calls to me at the
scheduled time, and, if you are calling long distance, you will also be
responsible for the phone charges.)
If you need advice about your
faith practices, relationship issues, work problems, your psychotherapy with
another professional (Catholic or otherwise), or other personal matters,
send your question by e-mail and also make a
minimum payment of $35 to this website. I will send
an answer to your question within a couple days of receiving the payment.
(A payment by check is considered to be received when the check
clears my bank.)
Many persons ask me, Do
I have to follow all the spiritual counsels in
order to consult with you? Well, no, you dont have to
do anything. If you follow all the counsels your healing will be less
complicated, it will take less time, and it will cost you less than if you
dont follow all the counsels. But its all your choice.
I made my websites so that anyone
in the world can learn from my writings free of
Fasting does not refer only to
abstaining once a week from the attractions of certain foods. We must also
fast constantly from the spiritually unhealthy attractions of
the social world around us. Similarly,
prayer does not mean simply saying
a Rosary and going to Mass.
We must pray constantly from the heart, with every breath, that God will
guide us, teach us, inspire us, and give us courage to see through our own
self-deceptions and overcome the repugnance of total surrender to Him.
Raymond Lloyd Richmond, Ph.D.
55 New Montgomery Street, Suite 420
San Francisco, CA 94105-3429
(For local inquiries about office visits.)
Map to my
Entrance to my
Center Parking (City Garage)
Bank of America with
clock on the corner
5th and Mission
The Palace Hotel
and taxi stand
BART station access locations
Bus stop on 30/45
lines from CalTrain depot
Cable car line