Integrated Self, The

Integrated Self, The

A Holistic Approach to Spirituality and Mental Health Practice

The Integrated Self models holistic, integrated treatment, including spiritual and cultural dimensions, to mental health professionals 


Contemporary research supports the importance of spirituality for mental health. Counselors, social workers, psychologists and other therapists wonder how to include spirituality in treatment.  Mental health training and current treatment models do not equip clinicians to adequately address the topic of spirituality.

The Integrated Self presents a model for identifying and assessing spirituality within the client’s own life and experience.  By operationally defining spirituality as a dimension of the client’s experience, The Integrated Self explores the role of culture, values, beliefs, and lifestyle for understanding the spiritual dimension of the person.  Using case studies, clinicians learn how to implement the model of the integrated self within their existing theoretical orientation.  The Integrated Self also includes discussions on the approaches for spiritual assessment and ethical issues related incorporating spirituality in mental health treatment.

While other books focus on religious beliefs, spiritual practices, or formulations of a general kind of spirituality, The Integrated Self provides a model for a holistic approach that can be adapted in both mental health and health care settings. 


As Dr. Kavar has done so well in his previous writing, he’s created a really thoughtful conversation around how we integrate our spirituality and our clinical work. Having known Lou for a few years now, I “hear” his voice as he communicates his thoughtful insights about the integration of self and practice. As he embraces his own empirical nature, he talks clearly and effectively about the “methodology” of spiritual assessment. I believe clinicians, clergy, and practitioners of pastoral care can benefit from reading this insightful and thoughtful book!

~ Dr. Wm. David Chapman, Psy.D, Dean, Harold Able School of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Capella University, Minneapolis, MN

The Integrated Self presents a ground-breaking way of approaching client’s that considers the core of the person, including culture and spirituality. His approach is insightful and unlike approaches in social work today.

~ Michelle Chan, MSW, Registered Social Worker, Hong Kong, China

Dr. Kavar makes the often obscure language of spirituality accessible to the clinician and the students who strive to become clinicians. His premise that spirituality is an integral dimension of self allows mental health providers a way to help clients recognize, validate, and cultivate true body-mind-spirit unity. This book is truly remarkable. 

~ Sally Dodds, MSW, Ph.D., Associate Professor/Research Scholar of Medicine, University of Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine

The Integrated Self provides a wonderful blueprint for realizing spiritual life in counseling whether within a sacred tradition or not.  Lou blends theory with practice seamlessly weaving together a  holistic approach to a difficult and often controversial subject in therapeutic practice.  A must read whether you are a practicing psychologist, chaplain or pastor!  

~ Dr. Thomas C. Vail, United States Military Chaplain.

Dr. Kavar has written a scholarly guide that is grounded in research, yet, accessible to everyone seeking spiritual integration in their lives – and isn’t that all of us?  The Integrated Self is cutting edge in this growing field of spiritual awareness and a must-read for all who are at a point of consciously trying to grow in their lives.  This book can open a door. 

~ Kathleen M. Kowalski Trakofler, Ph.D., Research Psychologist, National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, Centers for Disease Control , Department of Health and Human Services (USA)

As a psychologist who works in sport, you often work with athletes at a time when they are making themselves vulnerable and stepping outside of their comfort zone.  Sport psychology professionals frequently talk with athletes about the importance of who they are and bringing themselves to what they do.  Spirituality is one piece of who that athlete is, and for some athletes it may be a source of strength.  This book provides a model that can be beneficial for those psychologists wishing to begin exploring spirituality with athletes, and may be helpful to those wishing to incorporate this into their practice.

~ Dr. Adrienne Leslie-Toogood, Psychologist, Canadian Sport Centre Manitoba

At last, an accessible and enjoyable book about holistic psychotherapy! Lou Kavar shows his absolute grip on the subject matter by the clarity of his writing. Whilst this book may be primarily aimed at professional practitioners, it is wholly understandable to the average lay person too and I recommend it to anyone with an interest in the subject of holistic human living.
 In ‘The Integrated Self’ Kavar visits the scientific proof used to justify the inclusion of spirituality in the therapy room but he goes beyond this to create a truly integrated understanding of psychotherapy.  His use of anecdotal evidence, backed up by concrete theory and practice, provides all the necessary evidence for including the spirituality of clients in the therapy context and thereby moves the debate to the next level.
 This book is timely; finally the prejudice and fear around religion and spirituality that have hampered the therapeutic environment is beginning to break down and this model and critique is genuinely needed. This is also a beautifully written and powerfully encouraging book that is worth reading for its own sake.
 I heartily recommend ‘The Integrated Self’ to all therapists and also to those who work at the fringes of this field as healthcare professionals, chaplains and social workers 

~ Eva McIntyre, Author, A Quiet Mind, Worcestershire, England

Louis Kavar
Louis Kavar The Rev. Dr. Louis F. Kavar is an experienced therapist, spiritual director, minster, and professor of psychology. Throughout his career, Dr...
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