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An Interview with Lisa Miller

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Lisa Miller

Lisa Miller

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Grace was a mother in her mid-30s whose four-year-old son had been been diagnosed with cystic fibrosis. His limitations, caretaking requirements and bleak future had brought her to a sense of despair verging on depression, and led her to question the fairness of life and her own commitment as a mother.

In time, however, Grace's outlook changed. She began to see caring for a sick child as a calling rather than a burden -- as her life's work rather than an injustice visited upon her by random events. And where others might have gone under, she endured and even thrived.

TC Associate Professor Lisa Miller tells that story to illustrate the value of interpersonal therapy that focuses on the spiritual -- a term she uses to describe concerns ranging from one's personal morality to a sense of universal truths and a connection with a higher being. Psychotherapy literature has not traditionally incorporated such a perspective, but in recent years, practitioners' acceptance of a patient's spiritual viewpoint or belief in a divine nature has become more widespread. Miller herself says she made this adjustment simply because nearly all her clients were spiritually oriented, and she could not work effectively with them without meeting them on their own terms.

Miller, who holds a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of Pennsylvania and an undergraduate degree from Yale University, was an invited speaker at the first World Congress on Spirituality and Health, held in Mexico this past February. In the following edition of Peer Review, she discusses her work with faculty member and Peer Review host Renee Cherow-O'Leary.

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