A Brief History of the CPA

By Ann G. Howe, PhD

The Catholic Psychotherapy Association (CPA) began as a guild of the Catholic Medical Association in Atlanta, Georgia.

Under the title Therapists of Our Mother of Good Counsel, several Atlanta clinicians from diverse backgrounds but with a common bond of faith and willingness to serve began to hold monthly meetings at the home of Sandra McKay, who for many years had cherished the hope of bringing together clinicians who loved their faith. These meetings included prayer, study and clinical case review.

In 2002, this group of professionals sought and received the blessing of the local Archbishop, John Francis Donohue in order to promote the organization as a Catholic lay group.

It was at about this time that providentially Dr. Ann Howe, one of the members of Our Lady of Good Counsel, became acquainted with Dr. Kathy Benes, the then Clinical Director of Catholic Social Services of Lincoln, Nebraska. In Lincoln, the first APA-accredited Psychology Internship had been established which was also fully consistent with Catholic social teachings.

There a group of clinicians were also working, praying and studying how best to integrate Psychology with the full understanding of the human person as articulated by the Catholic faith. Under the encouraging direction of Dr. Benes and Fr. John Walsh, the CEO of Catholic Social Services in Lincoln, the Therapists of OMGC became acquainted with the Society of Catholic Social Scientist and also met fellow clinicians scattered about the country who were in search for a professional organization which would meet the needs for training, support and spiritual formation.

The last piece of the formation of the Catholic Psychotherapy Association involved connecting with the faculty and students of the Institute of Psychological Sciences in Arlington, Virginia, the first fully Catholic Psychology doctoral program in the country.

By April 2007 a meeting of representatives from Lincoln, IPS, and Atlanta met at the spring conference of the Society of Catholic Social Scientists which was being held at the Institute for the Psychological Sciences. It was at that meeting that these professionals committed themselves to the development of a Catholic Psychotherapy Association and consecrated this endeavor and themselves to Our Mother of Good Counsel.

Since that time, a Board of Directors has been constituted, by-laws have been agreed upon, non-profit status has been established, and membership has been opened up to mental health professionals who want to come to a fuller understanding of how the Catholic faith can complement, enrich and deepen their work for individuals and society.

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