Counseling and Psychotherapy with Arabs & Muslims: A Culturally Sensitive Approach – Author: Marwan Dwairy
Mental Health is focused on a person’s overall psychological well-being. This includes their capacity to handle stress, relate to others, form relationships, manage and become aware of their emotions. People’s mental health is affected (both positively and negatively) by various factors including biology and genetics, life experiences and family history. Muslim Mental Health is specifically dealing with the psychological well-being of those who identify as Muslim. Muslim Mental Health may also include topics such as social determinants of health that impact or create barriers to the Muslim community’s access to mental health services and practitioners.
Islamic Psychology and Muslim Mental Health are two different terms and are not interchangeable, though there may be some areas of overlap. Whereas Muslim Mental Health is the application of (western) psychology to persons who are Muslim, Islamic Psychology is the study of methods, past and present, and application of an indigenous and holistic approach to well-being from an Islamic perspective. Islamic Psychology will incorporate from its methodology and approach the human being’s soul, and the heart being the spiritual centre (not the brain). Other key Islamic concepts such as the belief in the unseen, the concept of the next life (aakhirah), working on developing good character and purification of the soul (tazkiya-tun-nafs) and an overall goal of contented submission of the soul to God.
It is important to note that there is a difference between a Muslim Psychologist and an Islamic Psychologist. It is possible if one finds a Muslim psychologist, psychotherapist, or Mental Health professional they may not have been trained or offering their services with an Islamic Psychology lens and may be using paradigms rooted in other frameworks. To work with an Islamic Psychology lens and paradigm requires more specialization and education.