By On April 8th, 2013

Neuroanthropology Opens Doors For Christian Counselors

There is more buzz than every about neuroscience, coming out of a recent major studies and public events that have highlighted diseases of the brain, both physical and mental. With this renewed vigor in the arena of brain health has sprung a new field called neuroanthropology.

As you might have guessed, neuroanthropology combines brain study and cultural/social backgrounds of individuals to study how the lives of individuals and the influences they encounter profoundly influence the brain.

For the normally strongly secular psychology community, this is a relief to those of us interested in mental health in connection to spiritual, religious, and emotional influence. It is remarkable to think that the less religious industry would seriously consider that the social and cultural norms, including religion, could impact the brain.

Unfortunately, the more secular counseling/psychology community will likely try to keep the focus away from how religion specifically molds the psyches of individuals, but it does offer Christian counselors a chance to explore the way spiritual history, in combination with family and social culture plays a part in shaping neurological pathways.

The new field also opens up opportunities often not afforded to many Christian counselors who have been professionally hesitant toward engaging in conversations about spiritual history as part of working with patients or to bring spirituality into the conversation.

Dr. Kathie Erwin talks about the new field in the blog for the American Association of Christian Counselors, and I share her excitement at the new perspectives and understandings a cross-disciplinary field could bring to our knowledge of religion and mental health.

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