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Relational Ministry

Integrating Ministry and Psychotherapy

Catherine Gibson

Historically, the relationship between religion and psychotherapy has been more negative than positive. Are there inherent contradictions between the two, or can advances in the area of mental health care offer insights that are useful for the work of those in ordained ministry? This book presents an analysis of the relationship between ordained ministry on the one hand and counselling and psychotherapeutic practice on the other. It draws on extensive interviews carried out with current and former clergy in three churches (the Roman Catholic Church, the Church of Ireland and the Presbyterian Church in Ireland) in order to clarify why some have stayed in ministry and combined it with psychotherapy, while others have left and continue their practice as psychotherapists. The book explores possible links between the sense of ministry in these two important areas of human experience – religion and psychotherapy – and goes on to investigate how combining these might lead to a different form of ministry.
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CHAPTER 5 - Causal Conditions


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Causal Conditions

Research done according to grounded theory principles aims at forming concepts by means of a coding process rooted in the data (Strauss and Corbin 1990). It is an interpretive process involving meaning-making which proceeds by labelling and analysing data in a gradual movement from raw data to abstract concepts. As data are acquired, they are constantly analysed, labelled according to codes, and then reassembled thematically in groups or categories. The categories form a group referred to as the causal conditions, and from this group a core concept emerges which links all of the other categories together (Strauss and Corbin 1990; Neuman 2007; Nolas 2011). In the present case, the core concept that emerged from the data was relevance, that is, a sense among the participants that their ministry lacked relevance to the lives of the people to whom they were ministering. The core concept then leads to a series of other groups which are referred to as contextual conditions, intervening conditions, strategies and consequences. These groups are all concerned with the ways those involved found to manage their situations and the results of those ways, and they lead to the final stage of theory-formation. The relationships between these elements of the process are shown in the paradigm in Table 5.2 at the end of this chapter.

During analysis of the data in this research several themes emerged as subcategories within the causal conditions category. These were:

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