BOWLING GREEN STATE UNIVERSITY


BGSU psychologist wins national award

Dr. Kenneth Pargament, psychology, is being honored by the American Psychiatric Association for his contributions to the dialogue concerning religion, spirituality and psychiatry.


Dr. Kenneth Pargament

The association has named Pargament as the 2009 recipient of the Oskar Pfister Award, presented by its Corresponding Committee on Religion, Spirituality and Psychiatry in consultation with the Association of Professional Chaplains.

Pargament will receive a $1,000 honorarium when he gives the award lecture next October at the association’s Institute on Psychiatric Services meeting in New York City.

Presented since 1983, the award is named for the Swiss Protestant minister and psychoanalyst who befriended Sigmund Freud and was an early proponent of the integration of psychiatry and religion. Among the previous award winners is Oliver Sacks, whose book “Awakenings,” about his work with catatonic victims of an encephalitis epidemic, became a 1990 film starring Robin Williams and Robert DeNiro.

Award criteria include “sustained professional contributions to the interfaces of psychiatry, religion and spirituality through research and clinical practice,” recognition by peers for “creative and original” contributions to the dialogue, and dissemination of findings through lectures and publications with “clinical relevance” to practicing psychiatrists and clergy.

Pargament has been a national leader in the psychology of religion and in the effort to bring a more balanced view of religious life to the attention of social scientists and health professionals. Having published extensively on the vital role of religion in coping with stress and trauma, he is the author of two books—The Psychology of Religion and Coping: Theory, Research, Practice and Spiritually Integrated Psychotherapy: Understanding and Addressing the Sacred, published in 1997 and 2007, respectively.

He was recently named editor in chief of the American Psychology Association’s forthcoming, two-volume APA Handbook of Psychology, Religion, and Spirituality. The inclusion of this subject in APA’s pioneering series of handbooks on all major areas in psychology, Pargament noted, is “a reflection of the progress our field has made.” His BGSU colleague Dr. Annette Mahoney will be an associate editor.

Pargament’s other honors include the William James Award for excellence in research in the psychology of religion from Division 36 of APA, the Virginia Staudt Sexton Mentoring Award from APA for guiding and encouraging others in the field, two exemplary paper awards from the John Templeton Foundation and the Outstanding Contributor to Graduate Education Award from BGSU.

He has served as a consultant with several foundations, the National Institutes of Health and the World Health Organization.

“Ken is one of the world’s experts on studying scientifically the mental health effects of spirituality and religion,” said Dr. Michael Zickar, chair of psychology.

“It’s really a great honor to him and to us that he received this award,” Zickar said, adding that doctoral students from various nations and religious traditions have come to BGSU to study with Pargament.

December 8, 2008