/ Review of Islamically Integrated Psychotherapy: Uniting Faith and Professional Practice, edited by Dr. Carrie York Al-Karam

Journal of Muslim Mental Health

Accompanied by high praise from the top experts in the field, the publication of Dr. Carrie York Al-Karam’s book, Islamically Integrated Psychotherapy: Uniting Faith and Professional Practice represents a milestone in the advancement of work on Spiritually Integrated Psychotherapy. When Dr. Kenneth Pargament published his book on Spiritually Integrated Psychotherapy in 2007, the fields of Muslim Mental Health (MMH) and Islamic Psychology (IP) were just beginning to blossom in the United States and the vast majority of work published on psychology and religion and spirituality in English focused on Judeo-Christian perspectives. Dr. York Al-Karam covers the developments of MMH and IP briefly in her introduction to the book, as well as other precursors to Islamically Integrated Psychotherapy (IIP), and speaks to the newness of the field of IIP in the US. This book brings together illuminating and innovative perspectives on IIP and provides a cutting edge and valuable resource that can only benefit anyone interested in, or involved in, treating Muslims in a mental health setting.

Dr. York Al-Karam has a Bachelors in International Studies, and has studied or taught at universities around the world including Russia, France, Lebanon and Dubai. In fact, she dedicated her book to the global Muslim community. She has a MA in Middle East Studies from American University of Beirut and received her PhD from Sofia University in 2011. Sofia University, founded by Dr. James Fadiman, a leading researcher on psychedelic psychology, and Dr. Robert Frager, a Sufi Shaykh, and widely published author on Sufism, including Sufi psychology, and the University has a long history of understanding “psychology with a soul” versus “rat psychology”, as it began as the California Institute of Transpersonal Psychology in 1975. Dr. York Al-Karam founded the Al-Karam Lab for Islamic Psychology in 2017 and then subsequently the AlKaram Institute in 2018, with a vision for the AlKaram Institute to be the first accredited Muslim graduate school of psychology in the United States. Thus, Dr. York Al-Karam is highly qualified to edit a book on this topic.

Dr. York Al-Karam has also brought together experts in the field of IIP, including Layla Asamarai, Sayyed Mohsen Fatemi, Afshana Haque, Paul M. Kaplick, Hooman Keshavarzi, Fahad KhanFarah Lodi, Rabia Malik, Abdallah RothmanIbrahim Rüschoff, and Fyeqa Sheikh. Of these authors Afshana Haque, Paul Kaplick, Farah Lodi, Rabia Malik, Abdallah Rothman, and Fyeqa Sheikh are all members of the AlKaram Institute. The book consists of an introduction written by Dr. York Al-Karam, and nine chapters that cover practice approaches to IIP. The book also includes acknowledgements, a preface, information about the contributors and an excellent 19 page index.

The chapters consist of concise discussions of specific applications of IIP, including theoretical underpinnings of multiple different approaches, as well as many case studies. The chapters are roughly comparable in length, about 25 pages each, and each chapter offers a delightful and informative reading of IIP with perspectives on individual psychotherapy, marital counseling, family therapy, and approaches for children and adolescents. There are also chapters on specific approaches incorporating specific Islamic concepts such as the Shiite teachings and Duaa Arafa, and the HEART Method, Healthy Emotions Anchored in RasoolAllah’s Teachings, a cognitive therapy technique. Within the chapters multiple threads appear such as mindfulness, non-dualism and subjectivity, emotion focused psychotherapy and chair work, taking IIP in many interesting directions that open up new possibilities for further exploration.

Post-colonial psychology posits a world where Indigenous epistemologies inform the treatment and practice of psychology with non-white, non-Western, and non-Christian people. Thus, the unquestioned assumptions within the Eurocentric therapeutic setting, such as scientism, positivism, and a transhistorical subject that is based on the European thinkers of the twentieth century cannot sufficiently meet the needs of Muslim clients. This book really begins to dig deeper into the implications of what it means to work from an Islamic metaphysics towards a psychological practice that honors an Islamic worldview. It is a valuable and groundbreaking work and an essential read for anyone interested in the field of Muslim mental health, Islamic psychology, or spiritually integrated psychotherapy.