Tyndale Counselling Services Participates in Ground-Breaking Research

Monday, October 23, 2017

Counselling Services Researchers with Tyndale DeansTyndale Counselling Services is participating in a University of Toronto sponsored multi-site study of Christian-based spiritually integrated psychotherapy. It is being led by Principal Investigator, Dr. W. L. Alan Fung of the University of Toronto’s Department of Psychiatry. Dr. Fung is also a Consultant Psychiatrist with Tyndale Counselling Services. Co-Principal Investigators are Dr. Taryn Tang of Two Wheels Training and Purple Yip [MDiv, 2007] of Two Wheels Training, who is also a Tyndale Counselling Services Supervisor. Co-Investigators include Tyndale’s Dr. Helen Noh, Dr. Nancy Ross and Rev. Sheila Stevens [MDiv, 1996]. In total, three clinical sites will serve as the research base, with 50% of the data emerging from Tyndale Counselling Services. This research is made possible through funding the University of Toronto received from the John Templeton Foundation.

Purple is the convenor of The Working Group for the Promotion of Mental Health in Faith Communities associated with this study alongside Sheila Stevens, Director of Tyndale Counselling Services. “This is the first research initiative on multi-faith-based psychotherapy that attempts to observe how people integrate faith when they participate in psychotherapy,” says Purple.

Unlike previous studies, this research expands into a new area examining the faith elements integrated on a practice-based level. Faith is not often addressed in the public sector in the area of psychotherapy. “There is a big gap between mental health and the faith community in Canada. This is actually unusual because the literature of the World Psychiatric Association, even the World Health Organization, shows that faith is one of the factors that stabilizes and improves mental health. With faith, people draw strength and find comfort. Faith circles also provide human interaction, so it’s extremely important,” notes Purple.

This particular study spans the globe with about 20 different groups collecting data from various populations using faith-based integrated psychotherapy. Tyndale’s participation will be from a Christian faith perspective as all faiths are included in this study.

“Toronto, is the most multi-cultural city in the world,” adds Purple. “Faith-integrated psychotherapy can be viewed as a very Western, middle-class type of intervention. We want to see the multi-cultural element, especially within the Asian population of Toronto, in how they practise and receive faith-integrated psychotherapy in their respective cultural element.”

Tyndale Counselling Services is open to Tyndale students and also serves the general public through the Family Life Centre. "It focuses on a preventive model, servicing about 20% of the student body, which is significantly higher than most educational institutions. Most mental health issues start when people are under 25. If we can catch things early, it won’t have to get to the point that some people get to some years later. We want to help people develop good skills,” says Sheila.

The Working Group for the Promotion of Mental Health in Faith Communities is hosting a Mental Health Day on November 7 that is open to the public and is a free event. The key speaker is Dr. Warren Kinghorn from Duke University, who will also be speaking in Community Chapel that day. There will be several booths from other mental health associations and different seminars held throughout the day.


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