Psychotherapeutic Change and Spiritual Transformation: The Interaction Effect


  • James W. Jones GSAPP--Rutgers University



psychotherapy and religion, psychoanalysis, affect-regulation theory, psychology and spirituality


Olav was an extremely difficult, regressed, and religiously preoccupied patient, with a long history of unsuccessful outpatient and inpatient treatment. His case study by Stalsett, Engedal, and Austad (2010) is used here to illustrate the VITA treatment program at the Modum Bad Hospital in Norway. This program uniquely combines contemporary psychoanalytic therapy and a focus on religious and spiritual concerns to produce a remarkably intense 12-week inpatient treatment process. My commentary concentrates on some of the theoretical and practical implications of Olav's case for the psychological study of religion and the clinical treatment of religious patients, and it argues in favor of the VITA approach to dealing with religious and spiritual concerns as opposed to other forms of "religious" or "spiritual" therapy. The case presentation implies that the VITA Program succeeded with Olav where others did not because it explicitly focused on religious and existential issues. I offer some suggestions based on self-psychology why that might be true but also suggest that other factors were at work as well. 

Author Biography

James W. Jones, GSAPP--Rutgers University

Dan Fishman, Ph.D. Editor-in-Chief, Pragmatic Case Studies in Psychotherapy Professor of Clinical and Organizational Psychology Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology Rutgers University Mailing address: 57 Jaffray Court Irvington, NY 10533 914-693-8549 fax: 603-917-2567 email:




How to Cite

Jones, J. W. (2010). Psychotherapeutic Change and Spiritual Transformation: The Interaction Effect. Pragmatic Case Studies in Psychotherapy, 6(2), 109–117.