Psychology tends to avoid the topics of religion and spirituality, which is what makes Division 36 of the American Psychological Association so uncommon. Division 36 is the only APA division to focus on religion and spirituality and, for the first time ever, their annual midyear conference is coming to a state well known for religion-Utah.
At the conference scholars from around the world will present research on religious and spiritual approaches to psychological understanding and practice. P. Scott Richards, a professor in the BYU McKay School of Education, is conference director.
"The conference is not just about Mormonism," Richards said. "There is a diversity of religion and spirituality. If you are interested in religion or spirituality, this will be an interesting conference."
The conference will include but not be limited to positive aspects of religion and spirituality.
"For people who are not religious or spiritually minded, there may be insights on how religion can become destructive, such as religious terrorism," Richards said. "We study the positives and negatives of the effects of religion and spirituality."
Keynote speakers will be eminent scholar and Florida State University Family Institute Director Frank Fincham and University of Lausanne, Switzerland Professor Pierre-Yves Brandt. Allen E. Bergin, a professor emeritus of Brigham Young University who pioneered professional interest in religious and spiritual approaches to psychology, will be a special guest speaker at the conference.
"The opportunity we have to bring them to our home, to host them, and to welcome them to Utah is a great opportunity," Richards said.
The APA Division 36 Midyear Conference on Religion and Spirituality will be held Friday and Saturday, March 27-28, 2015 at the Downtown Provo Marriott Hotel. The event is sponsored by the BYU Department of Counseling Psychology and Special Education, APA Division 36, and the BYU Division of Continuing Education. Registration and more information on the conference can be found on the conference website.