049: Behavioral Science Insights for Mormons

In this really insightful episode, LDF host Dan Wotherspoon turns loose his wonderful guest, Jordan Harmon, a Latter-day Saint therapist who brings a wide variety of insights to his work with clients and who has developed specialties in therapeutic practices based on behavioral science. What’s especially interesting is Jordan’s journey began with his having a very low opinion of behavioral therapies, primarily because they have often been abused, such as in LGBT+ “conversion” therapies and in our criminal justice system. Over the course of his work with clients, however, he slowly began to gain respect for behavioral therapies, especially now as it has evolved into something that takes in the whole of a person involving deep listening and empathy.

In each segment, their conversation features tie-ins to Mormon scripture, themes, insights, and application, as well as certain deficiencies and how these can translate into harmful forms of spiritual counseling. Jordan and Dan discuss questions about agency: how much agency do we really have (we are in a situation of both being an actor but also very much being “acted upon”) , and how might we increase it in relation to our deep values? Jordan openly shares about a difficult time as he and his wife tried to work with one of their children, and in the process of that section offers terrific insights into parenting approaches that can also assist us as we interact with our own parents and other loved ones. As they end, they also speak a bit about the LDS concept of Zion and how behavioral science might inform it.

You will really want to listen to this episode! It is definitely one that leads to us into deep thinking about ours and others’ difficulties, while also offering validation and framings that are extremely helpful.

Links related to discussion:

Harmon Psychotherapy and Consulting

Dan Wotherspoon’s dissertation: “Awakening Joseph Smith: Mormon Resources for a Postmodern Worldview,” Claremont Graduate School, 1996

1 thought on “049: Behavioral Science Insights for Mormons”

  1. This was a great episode.
    I especially like the part about being conscious with how we are rewarding others with our attention. If we only give attention to put out fires, then we may unconsciously rewarding our children with our attention when they misbehave.

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