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The role of faith in mental healthcare: Philosophy, psychology and practice

  • David M. Foreman

It is time to improve clinical approaches to faith in mental healthcare, particularly in psychotherapy. Understood as a psychological trait, faith has potentially great personal salience and introduces socially desirable biases into human reasoning. Therapies may have faith-informed components, either explicitly, or (as with some forms of mindfulness) implicitly, which may modify the patient's faith as well as producing symptomatic change. In this narrative review, the ethics of faith's inclusion in therapy is briefly appraised. The psychology of faith is discussed, and a model of the influence of the practitioner's faith on therapeutic choice is presented. Finally, faith-informed approaches to practice, including their impact on therapeutic effectiveness, are considered and recommendations made for their optimal implementation.


  1. Understand the main types, characteristics and likely effectiveness of faith-informed therapies versus their secular equivalents
  2. Develop a framework for effective assessment of the contribution of faith to a patient's quality of life, and use this to balance the advantages and risks of employing a faith-informed therapy
  3. Be aware of the unavoidability of bias in the assessment of faith, and learn how to minimise this bias, if necessary by making a group decision

Corresponding author
Dr David Foreman, c/o BJPsych Advances, Royal College of Psychiatrists, 21 Prescot Street, London E1 8BB, UK. Email:
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For a commentary on this article see pp. 426–427, this issue.

Declaration of Interest


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BJPsych Advances
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The role of faith in mental healthcare: Philosophy, psychology and practice

  • David M. Foreman
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