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Psychotherapy and the Fundamentalist Client: The Aims and Challenges of Treating Jehovah’s Witnesses

Abstract

Jehovah’s Witnesses are a Fundamentalist Christian religious group well known for their door-to-door proselytism. As a result of their belief in spreading the word of god and converting others, Jehovah’s Witness populations are growing across the globe. A primary element of Jehovah’s Witness doctrine and other Fundamentalist groups is a mandate to not develop associations with people outside of the religion. As a result of this isolationism, many Fundamentalists who experience psychological distress may hesitate to obtain help from the mental health community. Their belief system and cultural values, including the practice of “disfellowshipping” or shunning members, influence the types of problems Jehovah’s Witnesses and other Fundamentalists present with in therapy, obstacles to treatment, and issues that may arise within the therapeutic relationship.

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Correspondence to Meredith L. Friedson.

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Friedson, M.L. Psychotherapy and the Fundamentalist Client: The Aims and Challenges of Treating Jehovah’s Witnesses. J Relig Health 54, 693–712 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10943-014-9946-8

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10943-014-9946-8

Keywords

  • Jehovah’s witnesses
  • Religion
  • Fundamentalist
  • Psychotherapy
  • Psychodynamics
  • Presenting problems
  • Disfellowship
  • Shunning