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International Conference on
"Christian Orthodox Theology and Psychotherapy:
Convergences and Divergences"

1-5 October 2003

The Metropolis of Thebes and Levadia of Greece held a international conference with the theme: "Christian Orthodox Theology and Psychotherapy - Convergences and Divergences", The conference was held at the Aliartos Conference Center near Levadia, Greece, between the 1st-5th of October, 2003.
The first aim of this conference was to study in depth the possibilities of integrating the theory and practice of psychotherapy, the knowledge and experience stemming from the richness of Christian Orthodox Theology and Tradition, and the abundance of scientific contemporary psychiatric and psychological theories and techniques. The second aim of the Conference was to provide a better understanding of the "profile" of a psychotherapist who, inspired by Orthodox Theology, combines his/hers knowledge and Faith experience with his/her scientific theories and techniques, providing the utmost care to the patient.
Some 160 clinicians (psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, counselors) of various psychological "schools", clergy and theologians dealing with pastoral work, counseling, and/or psychotherapy attended the conference. Also invited were post-graduate students of Theology, Psychology, Psychiatry, Medicine, and Social Work.

Convergences and divergences between Orthodox Christian Tradition and psychological theories were identified and discussed. The topics that discussed were:

  • Orthodox Christian Ontology and the Science of Psychology
  • The Parallel Advantage of Psychoanalysis and Orthodox Christian Theology in Working with Difficult Patients in Psychotherapy: Probing in“ Transitional (Potential) Space”
  • Reflections on Healing and the Therapeutic Process
  • Orthodox Theology and Psychology: Meeting within the Realm of
  • A Cognitive Approach in the Ministry of Orthodox Pastoral Care
  • The Extreme Trauma in Psychotherapy
  • The Difficulties in Dealing with Guilt in Psychotherapy and in Pastoral Care
  • The Faith as a Strength or Complication in a Conjoint Relationship
  • Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy with a Religious Patient Suffering from Depression
  • Christian Therapeutic Community in Addiction Treatment
  • Group Psychotherapy with Females Suffering from Breast Cancer
  • The Orthodox Church’s Hesychastic Theology as a Therapeutic Method
  • Sublimation and Desublimation: a Fundamental Difference between Freudian and Christian Anthropology
  • The Contention between Pastoral Theology and Clinical Psychotherapy: a Fruitful Challenge for an Empirical Theory of Knowledge
  • Birth and Sexuality
  • Sexuality, the Difference of Genders, and Spiritual Life
  • The “Word” of the Icon: Two Modern Greek Painters
  • The Realm of Consolatory Realism: a Artistic Proposal Based on Orthodox Tradition
  • The Archetype Creating Function of the Byzantine Painting
  • Two Cultural Perils for Psychotherapy
  • Existential Encounters in Psychotherapeutic Practice
  • Modern Psychoanalysis and Patristic Legacy
  • Psychoanalysis and Theological Hermeneutics

Priority was given to Orthodox theological tradition and its possible applications to contemporary clinical and pastoral practice. The dialogue between Christian Orthodox Theology and Scientific Theories was most productive and cleared up issues that have been outstanding over the past few years. Particularly, there was a common consent that the term “Orthodox Psychotherapy” is misconceiving and that Orthodox Christianity cannot be limited to a psychotherapeutic theory.

Rev. Dr. Adamantios Avgoustidis (M.D.) (Representative to the ENHCC for the Church of Greece) and Rev. Dr. Stavros Kofinas, (Coordinator of the ENHCC – representing the Ecumenical Patriarchate) were on the organizing committee of the conference and also made presentations