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Using the Ignatian Rule of Discernment in Psychotherapy.

Total Credits: 3 APA Credit

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Dr. Jeffrey Thompson
3 Hours 15 Minutes
Never expires.



Course Level: Intermediate 

Target Audience: LCSW, LPC, LMFT

Learning Objectives: 

  • Define the Ignatian rules of discernment in context
  • Identify points of connection between the rules of discernment and treating co-occurring disorders
  • Apply the rules of discernment to cognitive therapy.

St. Ignatius of Loyola (1493-1556), the founder of the Jesuits, wrote his "Spiritual Exercises" to provide retreatants a process of "becoming aware and understanding to some extent the different movements which are caused in the soul." This is also a good definition of "psychotherapy" (literally, "soul healing"), which provides an opportunity to find connections between this spiritual classic and modern therapy practice. St. Ignatius's "Exercises" include insightful "rules for the discernment of spirits" to help people recognize the influence of encouraging "good spirits" and discouraging "evil spirits" in their retreats, which variously attempt to guide the person toward or away from their spiritual journey. Ironically, Ignatius teaches that both kinds of promptings can be used to discern and stay on the right path. These 16th Century discernment rules can be relevant in cognitive therapy with people who struggle to prevent relapse in their addictions, or who are fighting depression, anxiety, or trauma in part due to a strong "pathological critic." Paying attention to feelings of "consolation" or "desolation" can help clients better discern whether to believe their thoughts or not, whether a decision they are considering is appropriate, and how to assess sudden shifts in their thinking. Depending on how the therapist frames these rules, even non-religious people can benefit from St. Ignatius's wisdom.

Cancellation Policy: 
Refunds will not be offered for this event, however every registrant will receive a copy of the recorded presentation and the opportunity to complete the home study and receive any CE credits offered at a later date. Any questions or concerns, please feel free to reach out to Mary Hanys at for more details. 

There is no conflict of interest or commercial support for this program.