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Religion and Spirituality in Psychotherapy

February 17, 2019 – Rolando Diaz, Ph.D. “Religion and Spirituality in Psychotherapy”

Workshop Level: All levels

This workshop is for licensed psychologists who want to better describe, discuss and assess the role that spiritualty and religion play in a patient’s presentation and in the psychotherapy process.


Program Description: One of the under considered elements in psychotherapy is the role of religion and spirituality in treatment.  After reviewing concepts relevant to understanding a patient’s religious/spiritual beliefs, the program will consider the differences between pastoral counseling and psychotherapy, since each treatment modality posits a different approach to this dimension.

The program will also how religion and spirituality affect the development of the individual and various psychological characteristics.  Consideration of these is essential to develop the proper treatment approach and to arrive at accurate diagnoses.

The presenter will discuss the role of the therapist’s own faith and biases that this might introduce.  The presentation will conclude with a elaboration on the ethical pitfalls to consider.

Among the specific questions for the presentation:

How do clinicians distinguish between true and valid spiritual experiences and bizarre thinking/psychosis?  How do clinician handle the ethical challenges presented by the need to respect a person’s religious beliefs if these appear to present a risk to the patient or their family members?  How do clinicians handle treatment non-compliance for those patients who rely on prayer as a primary intervention for psychological symptomatology? How are the clinician’s own spiritual and religious beliefs relevant to their practice of psychotherapy?


Learning Objectives:  As a result of attending this workshop, it is expected that participants will have increased knowledge and understanding of the following issues:

  1. Distinguish spirituality and religions and have a greater understanding of the differences between dogma, doctrine, and religious practice.
  2. Identify various areas where a patient’s religious and spiritual beliefs are important to consider in developing treatment approaches and differential diagnosis.
  3. Identify some of the ethical challenges when religious issues are central to the psychotherapy process.

About the Presenter:  Dr. Díaz is a clinical psychologist in private practice in Arlington, Virginia.  He works with children, adolescents and adults, providing psychotherapy and psychological assessment, in both English and Spanish.  For the last 15 years, Dr. Díaz has seen men and women religious and priests for psychotherapy.  He also conducts pre-admission evaluation for seminaries and formation programs of various denominations.  He has chaired a review board that consulted to several religious orders on their child protection policies, and served as Vice-Chair of the National Advisory Council for the Conference of Major Superiors of Men, tasked with advising Catholic men’s religious orders on their child abuse prevention policies. He also conducts psychological testing for men accused of sexual abuse or of boundary violations through the St. John Vianney Center in Downingtown, Pennsylvania.

Dr. Rolando Díaz received his bachelor’s degree in psychology at the University of Miami (FL).  He received both his master’s in psychology and doctorate in clinical psychology from the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC.  His doctoral dissertation studied how cognitions and anxiety affected the academic performance of first-year law students.  His pre-doctoral internship was at the Woodburn Center for Community Mental Health in Annandale, Virginia.  He was a staff psychologist at the Lab School of Washington before moving into private practice.  He is licensed to practice in the Commonwealth of Virginia.



The event is finished.


Feb 17 2019


9:00 am - 12:15 pm




Doubletree by Hilton Silver Spring
8727 Colesville Road