I was thoroughly appalled to find out the postgraduate programme in Behavioural Health at the University of Hong Kong – one of the leading and most traditional institutions in Asia – included a compulsory course on Spirituality in Clinical Practice.
The module had been created to address the increasing demand of mental health services users for spiritual guidance rather than easing the symptoms per se. In his book, Spirituality in Clinical Practice: Theory and Practice of Spiritually Oriented Psychotherapy, Len Sperry brings about the notion of intricate interplay of spiritual crisis and psychological illness. Consequently, contemporary psychotherapy was allowed to work at both levels of psychology and spirituality in order to transport the patient beyond a symptom alleviation to a spiritual way of living.
One does not need to be an adept on Freudian theories to recognise the impact of lessons learned in the early stages on all the aspects of subsequent life: “Early years of childhood form the basis of intelligence, personality, social behaviour, and capacity to learn and nurture oneself as an adult. There is significant evidence that links the circumstances of adversity and habits formed in early years to the non-communicable diseases of adulthood” (UNICEF, 2013, ‘Why Early Childhood Development?’).
Acknowledging the importance of childhood in an individual’s development, the caregivers, as in this regard, are invited to play a role in the prevention of potential adulthood malaise.
Out of the three hierarchical models used to classify educational learning objectives proposed by Blooms in 1956: cognitive, affective and sensory domains, the cognitive domain list has been the primary focus of most traditional education and is frequently used to structure curriculum learning objectives, assessments and activities, sadly disregarding the affective and the sensory domains which play a crucial role in both mental and physical child’s health.
As long as the education system remains unmodified, it would be the task of parents to address child`s spiritual needs. In some traditions, it is believed that a certain “contract” between child and parents is sealed upon conception. It is then a mutual learning process that unfolds; and the key to understanding the lessons delivered lies in our openness and readiness to receive them.
Since spirituality is experiential, it is by dwelling in it that parents can show the path to their offspring. Find your informal way to feeling contempt and wholesome – family walks and contemplation of nature, listening to uplifting music, evening storytelling on ancient wisdom, cooking.
Anna Glazkova is a mother of two children aged three and seven. She is interested in child psychology, especially early years development. Founder of The Giving Tree Preschool and Primary, Anna also teaches parental, regular and radiant child yoga programmes.