Scholars have critiqued the lack of diversity in the integration literature before (Dueck & Reimer, 2009; Hook & Davis, 2012; McNeil, 2005; Pak, 2020; Sandage & Brown, 2018; Strawn et al., 2018; Yangarber-Hicks et al., 2006). Yet, concerning the “dearth of diversity in integration literature,” Sandage and Brown write, “…is especially perplexing given the ready examples of diversity engagement in psychology and psychotherapy literatures and in biblical studies and theology” (2018, p. 164, embedded citations omitted). This lack of diversity and the new wave of clinical integration has opened opportunities for further scholarship amidst diverse contexts by diverse contributors.
However, there is still limited scholarship investigating the integration of psychology and Christian theology within 21st century Asian American contexts. The growing Asian population in the United States is nearly 22 million people, and is estimated to surpass 46 million people by 2060 (Budiman & Ruiz, 2021). These same Asians and Asian Americans in the U.S. have been suffering from a surge of anti-Asian racism and violence. Settings of Christian mental health counseling, education and training, organizational leadership, and ministry are not immune to anti-Asian hate. Recent interpersonal and institutional occurrences of race-based oppression have re-exposed a historical narrative, which is still a contemporary narrative, continuously crushing the psyche of individuals and communities. It is the harmful narrative that persons and communities of Asian heritages are perpetual foreigners, invisible, a monolith, and a model minority in the U.S. today.
What can the discipline of integration offer Asians and Asian Americans, when Christians are one of the largest religious groups among them (Pew Research Center, 2012)? Current examples of integration include theoretical (Eng & TenElshof, 2020; Pak, 2022), empirical (Kim et al., 2015; Nie, 2023), and case study (Huang, 2018; Ng, 2018; Tan & Dong, 2014) contributions. Theologians have offered their integration as well (Lee, 2022; Ok, 2019). Still, there are plentiful examples from Asian American psychology, Asian American theology, and Asian American studies untapped to advance this field. Each of these disciplines have long histories (see Yip et al., 2021; Yoo et al., 2022 for Asian American psychology; Ho, 2019; Hong, 2023 for Asian American theology; and Iftikar & Museus, 2018 for Asian American studies). Each of these disciplines have recently published special issues (see the Journal of Asian American Studies Vol 23, Is 3 and Vol 25 Is 3; Asian American Journal of Psychology Vol 13 Is 3 and Is 4a, and Theology Today Vol 79 Is 4). Throughout the history of the Journal of Psychology and Theology alone, only 3 articles have explored Asian American experiences from psychological and theological perspectives. Moreover, can this discipline offer analysis beyond deficits and suffering toward healing and hope (see Cheng et al., 2021; Saw et al., 2022 for models from Asian American psychology; and Jeung, 2022 for a series of blog posts on Asian American Gifts to the Church), and greater hermeneutical justice in integration (Dwiwardani & Whitney, 2022)? The literature remains lacking, though the discipline of integration has much to offer.
Therefore, the Journal of Psychology & Theology invites practitioners, researchers, and scholars to contribute to this special issue of placing psychologies and Christian theologies in dialogue within Asian American contexts. This special issue aims to explore the diversity of voices, the challenges, and the resiliency among Asian Americans, by Asian Americans, and for Asian Americans based on their integration of Christian faith and psychology.
This issue centers 21st century Asian American experiences. The articles of this special issue are to explore the integration of psychology and Christian theology, as well as apply this interrelationship to Asian American contexts. We welcome original research, theoretical papers, empirical studies, case studies, and interdisciplinary perspectives that illuminate this important subject matter from professionals across the career stages. We encourage author teams that represent interdisciplinary collaborations, and diverse Asian American perspectives (East Asian, South Asian, Southeast Asian, West Asian). As examples, we welcome letters of interest that focus on the following topic areas:
- Theoretical and conceptual papers on personal identity, family processes, ethnic-racial socialization, development, and interracial dynamics
- Clinical application including, but not limited to mental health counseling and psychotherapy processes, case studies, supervision models, structural and institutional considerations
- Program development encouraging collaborations between mental health practitioners and churches
- Application to Asian American activism and advocacy
- Application to K-12 and higher education, professional training especially of mental health professionals, and organizational leadership
- Application to leaders and clergy in Christian ministry who are Asian American or lead predominantly Asian American congregations
- Reviews and responses to past journal articles of the JPT or other journals relevant to the integration of psychology and theology that have perpetuated anti-Asian racism or promoted Asian American liberation