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Pastoral Psychology

, Volume 62, Issue 5, pp 549–560 | Cite as

The Promise of Neuroplasticity for Pastoral Care and Counseling

  • Kirk A. BingamanEmail author
Article

Abstract

This article continues the author’s exploration of the significance of recent neuroscientific research for pastoral care and counseling Bingaman (Pastoral Psychology 60:477–489, 2011), (Pastoral Psychology, 61:411-422, 2012) by focusing on the plasticity and malleability of the human brain. It makes the case for mindfulness meditation (e.g., Centering Prayer) as a means to lower activity in the amygdala and thereby calm the stress region of the brain. In light of evidence that such mindfulness practices are more effective in reducing anxiety than is a focus on right belief or correct doctrine the case is made for a paradigmatic turn (see Bingaman 2007, pp. 102–110; Bingaman (Pastoral Psychology, 61:411–422, 2012) toward neurotheology, which seeks to understand the relationship between the brain and theology. The article concludes that the revolutionary discoveries concerning neuroplasticity challenge the field of pastoral care and counseling to recognize the ability of contemplative-meditational practices to reduce anxiety and to produce long-term, possibly permanent changes in the neural pathways of the human brain.

Keywords

Neuroplasticity Andrew Newberg Daniel Siegel Mindfulness meditation Anxiety Centering Prayer Neurotheology Pastoral care and counseling 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Graduate School of Religion and Religious EducationFordham UniversityBronxUSA

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