Tuesday, 4 July 2017

The Integrated Self

Circle Network Book Review: The Integrated Self: A Holistic Approach to Spirituality and Mental Health Practice By Louis F Kavar Published by: O Books Paperback: £8.99 Kindle: £6.58 Pages: 86
Author’s website: http://www.loukavar.com/

The Reverend Dr Louis Kavar is an ordained minister of religion, spiritual director, hypnotherapist and counselling psychologist. He works as an educator in the field of counselling and spirituality in the United States. He has travelled throughout the United States and globally in his pedagogic role.

Dr Kavar’s book posits an integrative approach towards spirituality and psychological practice. It offers a holistic framework encompassing mind, body and soul. It is primarily intended for mental health practitioners who are working directly with patients and offering psychological therapy.

Dr Kavar identifies the locus of therapeutic practice as the practitioner’s assistance to the client to understand their relationship to life from an integrated experience of the self. His approach therefore aims to assist practitioners in helping clients attain an experience of themselves in all dimensions of personhood, including spirituality. He positions his approach to encompass the importance of the psychosocial, familial, cultural, religious and spiritual dimensions of life without dualisms. From the author’s perspective, all of these contribute to the creation of the experience of the self. Drawing from clinical practice and research and using excellent case study analysis, he upholds the importance of spirituality in the healing of the self and in building resilience. Indeed, Dr Kavar proposes a possible genetic basis for our orientation towards spiritual experience that is established in our neurobiology. He identifies that the mental health practitioner can usefully implement his approach both in the assessment of the client and in their ongoing treatment in therapy.

Importantly, Dr Kavar’s approach neither negates religion nor upholds it as the mainstay of our spiritual experience, thus avoiding a partisan approach. He acknowledges that spiritual experience can arise from exposure to many sources of inspiration in life, in addition to the religious dimension. Dr Kavar establishes that the focus of assessment and treatment is the phenomenology of the client’s immanent and transcendent experience of spirituality. This makes Kavar’s approach deeply existential and humanistic, consistent with the approaches of other prestigious psycho-spiritual authors in the field, such as M Scott Peck and Ken Wilbur.

From my perspective, as a qualified counsellor and specialist social worker (with experience in the fields of child and family work, community mental health and latterly hospice and palliative care) it is my view that Dr Kavar’s model can be used successfully by specialists working in areas such as counselling, psychotherapy, clinical psychology, social work or psychiatry. It can also be used in coaching and mentoring. The approach is not about the clinician imposing spirituality or religion, but enabling the client through the therapeutic relationship to explore and reconnect with what gives meaning and value to their life, thereby building resilience. This book is an excellent guide for mental health practitioners wanting to work in a truly systemic, integrative and transpersonal manner.  

Reviewer: Brendan Mooney  http://www.brendanmooney.co.uk/blog/

You are welcome to view Lou Kavar on youtube: http://www.youtube.com/user/LouKavar

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