The Meaning and Perceived Effects of a Spiritual Retreat For Adolescent Males with Personal/Interpersonal Problems - PowerPoint PPT Presentation


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The Meaning and Perceived Effects of a Spiritual Retreat For Adolescent Males with Personal/Interpersonal Problems


The Meaning and Perceived Effects of a Spiritual Retreat For Adolescent Males with Personal/Interpersonal Problems A Dissertation By Paul C. Seishas – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: The Meaning and Perceived Effects of a Spiritual Retreat For Adolescent Males with Personal/Interpersonal Problems

The Meaning and Perceived Effects of a Spiritual
Retreat For Adolescent Males with
Personal/Interpersonal Problems
  • A Dissertation
  • By
  • Paul C. Seishas
  • Benard School of Education
  • Department of Educational and Counseling
  • University of the Pacific
  • Stockton, California
  • 2008

Motivation for this Study
  • Unique contribution to the field
  • Only recently has the notion of spirituality
    entered the mainstream of thinking in
  • Often spirituality is thought of in terms of
    religious orientations of the client, therapist,
    pyshcotherapeutic setting

Motivation for this Study
  • Personal Passion
  • The healing of human suffering and the quest for
    meaning and the life well lived
  • To merge psychology, philosophy, and spirituality
    into a context for psychotherapy
  • Compassion to suffer with (pati cum)

Preparation for this Study
  • Summary of philosophical and theoretical
    foundations for this study
  • Relevant Literature Review
  • Development of Purpose Statement
  • The purpose of this phenomenological study is to
    understand the lived experience of adolescent
    males who have experienced significant emotional
    or family problems and have attended a spiritual
    retreat and to glean from this event its meanings
    and impact on their lives and emotional growth.
    At this stage in the research, the meaning and
    experiences of these adolescents will be
    generally described as a therapeutic healing.

Data Collection for this Study
  • Selection of respondents
  • Letter of Inquiry and Response to Participate
    was mailed to the graduates of the school site
    selected for this research, classes of 2001
    2005, to solicit potential participants in the
  • After a review of the inquiry forms and brief
    phone interviews appropriate candidates were
    selected and scheduled.
  • All respondents read, understood, and signed the
    Participant Release Agreement, which includes
    full disclosure regarding the research, its
    purpose, and intent.
  • Data was collected through extensive, recorded
    then transcribed interviews using the protocol
    described earlier. Second interviews were not
    deemed necessary as data collected was extensive.

Organization and Analysis For this Study
  • Memoirs provide a vertical understanding of each
  • Phenomenological Reduction
  • bracketing
  • identifying and separating interview data
    relevant to the purpose of the study
  • horozonalizing
  • giving equal weight to relevant data
  • clustering data into themes
  • organizing themes into meaningful descriptions
  • Imaginative Variation
  • i.e. examining the phenomena from different
    perspectives seeking various meanings of the
  • Synthesis
  • a descriptive narrative of the essences of the
    experience of the phenomenon as a whole

  • Two distinct phenomena
  • Lost in Suffering
  • State of life prior to the Kairos retreat
  • Found in Redemption
  • Results of a four day experience of bonding,
    healing, and transformation

Lost in Suffering
  • Trepidation (fear)
  • Characterized by fear of the future, leaving
    home, change, or life
  • Turbulence (confusion and conflict)
  • Confusion, defiance, mistrust, dishonesty
  • Conflict characterized by argumentation, physical
    altercations, and tensions primarily with parents
  • Disengagement (inner focus and isolation)
  • Inner focus characterized by self-absorption,
    self-loathing, self consciousness,
  • Isolation and ostracization characterized by
    rejection, ridicule, harassment, racism,
  • Unfulfilled desire for intimacy and connection
    with others
  • Escape
  • Drugs and alcohol
  • Suicidal ideation and gestures
  • Self-medication
  • Athletics
  • Sex
  • Leaving home
  • Dark Corner (emptiness, trapped)
  • Emptiness of life, loss of meaning and purpose
  • Implosion of ones world

Found in Redemption
  • Anticipation Day One
  • Characterized by excitement, intrigue curiosity
    and hope at the possibilities the retreat may
  • Fear and apprehension that the retreat may not be
    what is needed
  • Awakening Day Two
  • Dismantling of barriers between students and
    adults, retreatants and leaders, social groups,
    etc. characterized by genuineness
  • Characterized by an embracing environment in
    which the retreatant feels peace, calm,
    acceptance, comfort, relief, continued hope, and
  • Realization of interconnectedness among all
    people and the world
  • Experience of order in a life of chaos
  • Threshold Experience Day Three
  • Experience of unconditional love, acceptance and
  • Ineffable catharsis, a breakthrough accompanied
    by floods of emotion in an emerging enlightenment
  • Profound realization that I am not alone and I
    am loved
  • Intimacy of Transcendence Day Four
  • Realization that life is not about me
  • Taking the risk of vulnerability characterized by
  • Revelation that one is deeply connected to others
    and to God by a common need for love and embrace,
    to ease the pain of suffering isolation
  • This Intimacy of Transcendence is received as
    gifts in the form of letters, student and adult
    leaders, God, and each other
  • Path to Restoration Living the Fourth
  • Spiritual Genesis and Life Conversion I was
    lost and now I am found

What is the essence of the Kairos experience for
troubled adolescents? Spiritual Genesis!
  • For the ten troubled teenagers in this study the
    Kairos experience is a spiritual genesis.  It is
    the birthplace of a profound transcendence of
    self in the encounter of God and/or others within
    a wholly accepting and caring environment free of
    judgment and filled with unconditional love. It
    is the place where new life begins with a hope
    and promise for a future less burdened by
    conflict, depression, or isolation. It is an
    experience of risk and vulnerability that is
    rewarded with a level of intimacy never before
    experienced. In the end, it is a beginning. 
    Kairos becomes a proving ground for these
    teenagers in distress, a place where they first
    put into practice a new manner of communication,
    a new attitude of embrace for the commonalities
    and the differences among people. The real
    retreat, however, begins when they go home to
    face the conditions that caused so much hurt in
    their lives. Apparently they face it with great
    confidence and conviction.  They declare their
    sexual orientations, they ask forgiveness of
    parents whom they have injured, they reach out to
    peers in friendship, removing their own isolation
    as well as the isolation of others.

What is the essence of the Kairos experience for
troubled adolescents? Spiritual Genesis!
  • In their suffering the participants
  • are confronted with death, isolation,
    meaninglessness, and freedom, or the lack of
    freedom which might be called a slavery to
    emotional pain.
  • During the retreat the teenager finds himself
  • to reorient his thinking and feeling
  • his perceptions and perspectives
  • In facing each of these issues, in discovering a
    spiritual bond with others he finds a way out of
    his suffering.
  • He puts into action what he has learned
  • discovers that life changes for him
  • discovers that life becomes more than just
  • finds that life can be filled with a joy and
    satisfaction that he would not have otherwise
  • Overwhelming perception
  • their lives had changed for the better after
  • their lives would not be the same today had it
    not been for Kairos.
  • What is described here bears striking resemblance
    to the psychotherapeutic process as experienced
    in successful therapy.

  • This research supports the contention that
    spiritual experience, both religious and
  • can be therapeutic
  • can be a context for the therapeutic process
  • and psychotherapy can be viewed as a blend of two
    experiences that seek to make people whole

Further Research
  • To discover the value of spirituality to
    psychotherapy and mental health research must
    delve deeper into fundamental human needs
    developmentally and cross-culturally and move
    beyond questions of client anticipation based on
    religious orientation or openness.
  • The following questions would require both
    qualitative and quantitative study

Further Research
  • How does the psychotherapists ability to
    understand and respond to divergent spiritual and
    religious orientations impact successful therapy?
  • How does this promote the relief of symptoms and
    generate a healing process for the client?

Further Research
  • Research and development of therapist training
  • religious and spiritual dimensions of the
    therapeutic process
  • similar to the requirements of cross-cultural
    therapeutic training
  • What would such training be composed of? 
  • How would it fit into established curriculum?

Further Research
  • In the broader study of spirituality and
    psychotherapy much work is needed in determining
    the appropriate place of spirituality in
  • ex. Would recommending the Sacrament of
    Reconciliation, the confessing of sins to a
    priest, be an appropriate and effective
    therapeutic intervention for a Catholic client
    who greatly struggles with guilt issues?
  • What would such an experience mean to that
    individual and what effects might it have?
  • Would such an intervention be a catalyst for
    change, reduce symptoms, etc.?