As-Salamu `Alaykum Sister,
Thank you for sending us your question. May Allah (swt) grant you success in your career as a psychologist and future endeavors.
Good choice for a career! In regards to your question, the first thing you should know is that you do not need to be an Islamic scholar to practice psychology through an Islamic lens. However, you need to have some kind of knowledge in the subject area that you will be working in.
For example, if you want to become a marriage counselor, you would need to seek Islamic knowledge related to everything that has to do with marriage according to Islamic law.
If you choose a career in psychology, you would most probably be working with individuals who suffer from depression, anxiety, and other mental health disorders. You would be required to address issues such as low self-esteem, domestic violence, relationship problems, etc. It would help you immensely if you understood how all these issues are mentioned in Islamic texts.
Since a psychologist focuses more on a person’s spiritual health, then you would be required to understand Islam on a spiritual level. In other words, the Islam you would need to know must be relevant to the issues your clients face.
To give you an example, if you have a Muslim client who suffers from low self-esteem and always puts him/herself down, you would bring to the client’s attention many hadeeths and/or verses from the Qur’an that describe strength and conviction.
This hadeeth Qudsi could be an example:
“O son of Adam, so long as you call upon Me and put your hope in Me, I will forgive you for what you have done, and I shall not mind. O son of Adam, if your sins were to reach the clouds of the sky, and you were to ask me for forgiveness, I will forgive you and I shall not mind. O son of Adam, if you were to come to Me with sins nearly the size of the earth, and you were to meet Me not associating anything with Me, then I would bring you forgiveness nearly the size of the earth.”
The explanation of this hadeeth would be perfect for the above client because it says that a person should never give up on what is right, even if they make countless mistakes in the process. What is important is that an individual identifies what is wrong with their behavior or perception and strives to change it, even if they fail. One should always have hope.
Of course, when treating any Muslim client, you should also use techniques and strategies that you learned from your secular training. Do not only depend on Islamic teachings while practicing psychology, because you have to remember that you are a psychologist and not an Islamic scholar!
I would recommend that you take Islamic courses to gain knowledge about the above issues. Alhamdulillah, nowadays if you can’t find Islamic classes near your place of residence, you can always find online Islamic courses in several different topics.
It would also be helpful if you could have an Islamic scholar and other Muslim psychologists and mental health professionals as contacts so you can ask for their advice and assistance if you face an issue that you need assistance with. May Allah grant you success!
May Allah (swt) grant you success!
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