Religious beliefs and practices of patients have long been thought to have a pathological basis and psychiatrists for over a century have understood them in this light. Recent research, however, has uncovered findings which suggest that to some patients religion may also be a resource that helps them to cope with the stress of their illness or with dismal life circumstances. What are psychiatrists doing with this new information? How is it affecting their clinical practices? Studies of psychiatrists in the UK, Canada and the USA suggest that there remains widespread prejudice against religion and little integration of it into the assessment or care of patients. In this paper I discuss a range of interventions that psychiatrists should consider when treating patients, including taking a spiritual history, supporting healthy religious beliefs, challenging unhealthy beliefs, praying with patients (in highly selected cases) and consultation with, referral to, or joint therapy with trained clergy (Koenig, 2007). Religion is an important psychological and social factor that may serve either as a powerful resource for healing or be intricately intertwined with psychopathology.
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