Paper Psychotherapy & Theology
the beginning there is community”
Invited paper, presented at the International Conference 'The Spiritual Dimension in Therapy and Experiential Exploration: a conference for those counsellors, psychotherapists and other practitioners concerned to explore the significance of spirituality to their life and practice' (Norwich, 18th – 22nd July, 2004) on 20th July 2004 (revised version to be published in the Conference Reader by Moore, Judith & Purton, Campbell, 2005).
Western tradition tends to give preference to the individual and their values of autonomy and authenticity. On the opposite, there have always been traditions favouring the community and esteeming the value of relationship and of thinking in societal categories. Throughout occidental history the unum-multum-problem has been dominating the building of conceptions in theology, philosophy, psychology and psychotherapy. In theology, the conception of and belief in a triune God (‘God as communication and community’) brought the dialectics of unity and plurality, identity and difference, individuality and community to a hitherto unknown peak of human thinking and understanding of both God and their image, the human being. This leads to tremendous consequences for the understanding of the human being as a person, a being of innate plurality, for example as men and women. It is communication, originating in encounter and presence, which builds community.
In this paper I am going to explore the social and community-centred aspect of Christian belief and its consequences for a person-centred image of the human being both in anthropological theory development and the practice of person-centred work, particularly in groups. The PowerPoint presentation will be followed by a discussion with the audience.
Spirituality, unum-multum-problem, community, God, Trinity, triune, Christianity, theology, unity, plurality, identity, difference, individuality, perichoretic love, image of the human being, anthropology, person, encounter, communication, response, correspond, sexes, the Other, the Third, We, group, presence, dialogue, essence of the PCA, non-directivity, kairoticity, immediacy, paradigm shift.
Click here to download the pdf text file including the PowerPoint slides,
Schmid, Peter F., In the beginning there is community. Implications and challenges of the belief in a triune God and a person-centred approach. Foreword by Brian Thorne. Norwich (Norwich Centre Occasional Publication Series) 2006, 56 pages
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Thank you so much for your input to the conference, for your brilliant
I have enjoyed
your excellent paper immensely and it resonates profoundly with my own
experience and understanding. Thank you for your major contribution to the
Conference. Your paper is very significant and deserves a wide airing.
Lee Fields, UK
Dimension Conference inspired me in terms of making a difference but this
time it was in terms of being able to respond to a call - Peter Schmid's
sense of 'pro-vocare', a response being called forth through a meeting with
the other. The sense that it is my ability to respond which is my ethical
resonse-ability in the world. I long to respond and I reach out in response
I was inspired by
Peter Schmid's paper and his exploration of a triune God as community. I
felt encouraged by his comparison of a male and female articulation of the
You were such a wonderful presence at our conference last year that I would very much like you to be involved in the planning of the 2008 conference.
Judy Moore, UK, February 2005
I just wanted to
share what I recently read from Peter Schmid:
Ian Lee, December 2004
I enjoyed your paper very much and have just in fact printed it off your
website for further study - and also to pass on. It was a privilege to be
present at your lecture. Thank you.