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Sunday, April 17, 2016

Are Religion and Spirituality of Relevance in Psychotherapy?

By Jeffrey E. Barnett
Spirituality in Clinical Practice, Vol 3(1), Mar 2016, 5-9.


Are religion and spirituality of relevance in psychotherapy? Reasons why they are are addressed and information is shared to illustrate their great importance in many clients’ lives and why they are relevant to the psychotherapy process. Recommendations regarding how psychotherapists advertise their services, informed consent, clinical competence, cultural competence, and boundaries and multiple relationships are provided so that psychotherapists may fulfill their ethical obligations to provide clients with the most relevant and efficacious treatment possible.

The article is here.

Here are two excerpts:

Scholars and clinicians in the mental health fields have long considered the relevance of religion and spirituality as issues to consider and address in mental health treatment. While many mental health professionals in general, and psychologists in particular, had exhibited significant resistance to, and lack of respect for, religion and spirituality and their role in the psychotherapy process over the years, in recent years there has been much greater acceptance. Much of this acceptance is based on research findings on the great value of religion and spirituality for so many individuals and how addressing them in psychotherapy can be so meaningful and impactful for so many clients. Thus, it is now safe to say that the evidence is in; religion and spirituality are important issues to consider and address in psychotherapy.


For those of us who are not comfortable addressing our clients' religious and spiritual needs and issues in our psychotherapeutic work with them, referrals to appropriately trained colleagues is recommended. But, it is important to consider the viability of not addressing these issues at all with our clients as for so many individuals who seek out mental health treatment these are important and salient issues in their lives. Preparing ourselves to provide needed treatment services to those who are likely to seek our help is consistent with our ethical obligations as professionals. Failure to do so falls below minimally accepted ethics standards. So, in response to the question asked in the beginning of this commentary, the answer is most definitely yes, religion and spirituality are of relevance in psychotherapy, and as has been shared, they should be addressed in a thoughtful and respectful manner with each and every client we work with in psychotherapy.