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The Importance of Rituals & Rights of Passage in Psychotherapy


James E. Walton, Ph.D., MFT


Topic: The Importance of Rituals & Rights of Passage in Psychotherapy

People throughout the world have heightened emotions during times of important changes in their lives. These stressful changes may be physiological or social in nature. They are usually connected with personal transitions between important stages that occur during our lives. These transitions are generally emotionally charged--they are life crises. Most cultures consider the important transitions to be birth, the onset of puberty, marriage, life threatening illness or injury, and finally death. Graduation from school, divorce, and retirement at the end of a work life are also major transitions in modern large-scale societies.

During the early 20th century, the Belgian anthropologist, Arnold Van Gennep, observed that all cultures have prescribed ways for an individual and society to deal with these emotion charged situations. They have ritual ceremonies intended to mark the transition from one phase of life to another. Van Gennep called these ceremonies rites of passage. In North America today, typical rites of passage are baptisms, bar mitzvahs and confirmations, school graduation ceremonies, weddings, retirement parties, and funerals. These intentionally ritualized ceremonies help the individuals making the transition, as well their relatives and friends, pass through an emotionally charged, tense time. Most rites of passage are religious ceremonies. They not only mark the transition between an individual's life stages but they reinforce the dominant religious views and values of a culture. In other words, they reinforce the world-view.

Guest: James E. Walton, Ph.D., MFT

Dr. Walton brings over 17 years of counseling experience to his clients.

His treatment methods emphasize Systems Theory, Cognitive-Behavioral, Object Relations and Jungian approaches. Dr. Walton's methods focus on developing highly functional relationships through enhancing communication and interpersonal skills. His patients achieve deeper meaning and understanding in life through exploration of personal myths and dream analysis. Dr. Walton is a member of the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists and a Diplomat of the American Psychotherapy Association.

Dr. James E. Walton, Ph.D. received his Doctorate in Clinical Psychology from the Pacifica Graduate Institute in Santa Barbara, CA. He received his Masters Degree in Family Therapy from The Phillips Graduate Institute in Los Angeles. In addition, Dr. Walton holds a Masters Degree in International Management from The American Graduate School of International Management, also known as The Thunderbird School, Glendale, AZ. Dr. Walton completed hypnosis training at the Hypnosis Motivation Institute in Los Angeles.



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