The IPS mission statement declares that “IPS is dedicated to the renewal of the Catholic Christian intellectual tradition and the integration of the theoretical and empirical bases of psychology and a Catholic view of the human person.” But what does this mean? (Forgive the lengthy answer, but this question goes to the root of what we’re doing here!)
IPS is forming mental health professionals to meet the growing demand in today’s culture for therapists who respect the dignity and uniqueness of every client. IPS clinicians go beyond simple symptom relief to facilitate true healing and growth for clients and their families. Our training emphasizes not only assessment and treatment of psychological disorders, but also how to help clients develop virtues and flourish as human beings.
To assist in articulating this integrated understanding of each client’s complete reality (spiritual, emotional, temporal), the IPS faculty – clinicians and theoreticians, sociologists, philosophers and theologians – meet regularly in a research group call the Faculty Integration Project. A decade of this multidisciplinary work has resulted in “The IPS Model” of integration.
This IPS Model brings together scientific psychology’s theoretical and empirically based knowledge with philosophical and theological insights about the person from the Catholic faith to provide a foundation for the study and practice of psychology. Philosophy tells us that the person is one (a body-soul unity); bodily (encompassing the physical, neurological, emotional, etc.), interpersonally relational or social (the person is always in a context, never in isolation); rational (has the capacity to think), and possesses free will (though there are limitations: we cannot control everything). Theologically we know that each and every person is created in the image and likeness of God, yet fallen, but redeemed in Christ.
Of course, we don’t bring these points up when we sit down with a client, but we work so that they inform how we view the client, as one student explained: “This anthropology is very forgiving in terms of the human person: through our Catholic lens the client is better understood and more easily forgiven for being broken in some way… The person is treated with genuine compassion, because every time we encounter a client, we encounter the mystery of this human person and of God.”
The IPS Model also emphasizes the particular vocations of both the therapist and the client. It views the mental health professional as having a vocation to heal, and believes that the many elements of each client’s specific state in life – single, married, raising a family, professional, member of the clergy – play an integral role in the therapeutic process. By understanding the whole person, clinicians can provide more effective treatment.