Prayers produce “spiritual energy” that can relieve stress, improve well-being and sensitivity, according to a recent study by Hany Henry, associate psychology professor at The American University of Cairo (AUC).
Clients who underwent therapy following this approach have reported experiences of “warmth” and “a sense of bliss”, according to the research.
Henry’s research, the result of intensive interviews, also includes a case study of a particular client who made progress after the inclusion of prayers in his therapy.
Religion can be integrated in psychological practices when the therapist encourages his client to talks about his feelings towards prayers. The integration can also happen through explicit inclusion of prayers in the therapeutic regimen.
“We do it only when the client brings it up – when he initiates it,” Henry said.
The research tries to “bridge” religion and psychological practices, which are slowly considering the integration of religion in therapy, Henry said. As part of his training as a clinical psychologist, he learned to “respect other people’s beliefs”, despite the tensions in the field about the topic of religion.
Most therapists are not trained to integrate religion in therapy, so they tend to either “ignore” it or become “preachers”, Henry said.
“If there’s a tool that could help, why ignore it?” he said.
Henry does not recommend ignoring “non-traditional” therapy approaches, such as those including yoga and mindful meditation, which could help the clients.
“Psychological problems are very complicated,” he said, “some therapists give false promises about pills.”