Source: Psychology Today
By Cassandra Vieten Ph.D
Do people’s spiritual and religious beliefs and practices (or lack thereof) influence their mental and emotional health? Should psychotherapists ask about them, and pay attention to them in treatment? Unless clients have none, or would prefer not to discuss them, the answer is yes.
Asking about clients’ spiritual and religious beliefs and practices, if any, should be a routine part of mental health care. This is true for every form of psychotherapy, even when the therapist is not spiritual or religious themselves, and does not intend to engage in any kind of spiritually-oriented treatment.
Why? Shouldn’t spirituality and religion be kept out of the therapy room and left where they belong, in a church, mosque, synagogue, meditation center, or yoga class? Shouldn’t psychotherapy be free from any kind of superstition or mysticism, and remain scientific and evidence-based? Aren’t spirituality and religion private issues, not relevant to mental health care? Don’t modern and intelligent people steer clear of these topics in general?
In short, no.
Why? Research shows that:
- Religious and spiritual beliefs and practices are prevalent and diverse in the US and in your clients. Gallup polls indicate that 92% of Americans believe in God, 55-59% of Americans say that religion is “very important” in their lives, and another 24-29% say that religion is “fairly important in their lives.”