Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
×
Home

Information:

  • Access
  • Open access
  • Cited by 27
  • Cited by
    This article has been cited by the following publications. This list is generated based on data provided by CrossRef.

    Poole, Rob and Higgo, Robert 2011. Spirituality and the threat to therapeutic boundaries in psychiatric practice. Mental Health, Religion & Culture, Vol. 14, Issue. 1, p. 19.

    Cook, Christopher C.H. Powell, Andrew Sims, Andrew and Eagger, Sarah 2011. Spirituality and secularity: professional boundaries in psychiatry. Mental Health, Religion & Culture, Vol. 14, Issue. 1, p. 35.

    Koenig, Harold G. 2012. Religion, Spirituality, and Health: The Research and Clinical Implications. ISRN Psychiatry, Vol. 2012, Issue. , p. 1.

    Koenig, Harold G. 2012. Religious versus Conventional Psychotherapy for Major Depression in Patients with Chronic Medical Illness: Rationale, Methods, and Preliminary Results. Depression Research and Treatment, Vol. 2012, Issue. , p. 1.

    Whitley, Rob 2012. Religious competence as cultural competence. Transcultural Psychiatry, Vol. 49, Issue. 2, p. 245.

    Abdellaoui, Abdel Hottenga, Jouke-Jan Xiao, Xiangjun Scheet, Paul Ehli, Erik A. Davies, Gareth E. Hudziak, James J. Smit, Dirk J. A. Bartels, Meike Willemsen, Gonneke Brooks, Andrew Sullivan, Patrick F. Smit, Johannes H. de Geus, Eco J. Penninx, Brenda W. J. H. and Boomsma, Dorret I. 2013. Association Between Autozygosity and Major Depression: Stratification Due to Religious Assortment. Behavior Genetics, Vol. 43, Issue. 6, p. 455.

    Abi-Hashem, Naji 2013. The Encyclopedia of Cross-Cultural Psychology. p. 1091.

    Jafari, Najmeh Zamani, Ahmadreza Lazenby, Mark Farajzadegan, Ziba Emami, Hamid and Loghmani, Amir 2013. Translation and validation of the Persian version of the functional assessment of chronic illness therapy—Spiritual well-being scale (FACIT-Sp) among Muslim Iranians in treatment for cancer. Palliative and Supportive Care, Vol. 11, Issue. 01, p. 29.

    Shin, Jiwon Helen Yoon, John D. Rasinski, Kenneth A. Koenig, Harold G. Meador, Keith G. and Curlin, Farr A. 2013. A Spiritual Problem? Primary Care Physicians’ and Psychiatrists’ Interpretations of Medically Unexplained Symptoms. Journal of General Internal Medicine, Vol. 28, Issue. 3, p. 392.

    Suto, Melinda J. and Smith, Sharon 2014. Spirituality in bedlam: Exploring professional conversations on acute psychiatric units. Canadian Journal of Occupational Therapy, Vol. 81, Issue. 1, p. 18.

    Heffernan, Suzanne Neil, Sandra and Weatherhead, Stephen 2014. Religion in inpatient mental health: a narrative review. Mental Health Review Journal, Vol. 19, Issue. 4, p. 221.

    Mayer, Claude-Hélène and Viviers, Rian 2014. ‘I still believe...’Reconstructing spirituality, culture and mental health across cultural divides. International Review of Psychiatry, Vol. 26, Issue. 3, p. 265.

    Saleem, Rizwan Treasaden, Ian and K. Puri, Basant 2014. Provision of spiritual and pastoral care facilities in a high-security hospital and their increased use by those of Muslim compared to Christian faith. Mental Health, Religion & Culture, Vol. 17, Issue. 1, p. 94.

    Mayer, Claude-Hélène and Viviers, Rian 2014. ‘Following the word of God’: Empirical insights into managerial perceptions on spirituality, culture and health. International Review of Psychiatry, Vol. 26, Issue. 3, p. 302.

    Bassett, Andrew M. and Baker, Charley 2015. Normal or Abnormal? ‘Normative Uncertainty’ in Psychiatric Practice. Journal of Medical Humanities, Vol. 36, Issue. 2, p. 89.

    Loynes, Benjamin and O'Hara, Jean 2015. How can mental health clinicians, working in intellectual disability services, meet the spiritual needs of their service users?. Advances in Mental Health and Intellectual Disabilities, Vol. 9, Issue. 1, p. 9.

    Callegari, Camilla Diurni, Marcello Bianchi, Lucia Aletti, Francesca Anna and Vender, Simone 2016. L’Entrevue pour la vue d’ensemble culturelle (DSM-5) et Cultural Formulation de deux cas cliniques : interférence de la spiritualité et de la religion au début du processus psychopathologique. L'Évolution Psychiatrique, Vol. 81, Issue. 1, p. 191.

    Chaiviboontham, Suchira Phinitkhajorndech, Noppawan Hanucharurnkul, Somchit and Noipiang, Thaniya 2016. Psychometric properties of the Thai Spiritual Well-Being Scale. Palliative and Supportive Care, Vol. 14, Issue. 02, p. 109.

    Eyber, Carola 2016. Cultures of Wellbeing. p. 198.

    Azizi, Maryam Azizi, Abolfath Abedi, Ahmad Kajbaf, Mohamad Baqher and Fallahzadeh, Reza Ali 2016. The Effect of Spiritual Therapy on Hope of Life in Female Students Who Referred to Isfahan University Counseling Center. Psychology, Vol. 07, Issue. 01, p. 126.

    ×

Actions:

      • Send article to Kindle

        To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

        Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

        Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

        Religion, spirituality and mental health
        Available formats
        ×

        Send article to Dropbox

        To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

        Religion, spirituality and mental health
        Available formats
        ×

        Send article to Google Drive

        To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

        Religion, spirituality and mental health
        Available formats
        ×
Export citation

Summary

Research demonstrates important associations between religiosity and well-being; spirituality and religious faith are important coping mechanisms for managing stressful life events. Despite this, there is a religiosity gap between mental health clinicians and their patients. The former are less likely to be religious, and recent correspondence in the Psychiatric Bulletin suggests that some at least do not consider it appropriate to encourage discussion of any spiritual or religious concerns with patients. However, it is difficult to see how failure to discuss such matters can be consistent with the objective of gaining a full understanding of the patient's condition and their self-understanding, or attracting their full and active engagement with services.

Footnotes

This response to Koenig's1 editorial has been prepared on behalf of the Executive Committee of the Spirituality and Psychiatry Special Interest Group.

Declaration of interest

None.

In his recent editorial in the Psychiatric Bulletin, Koenig 1 makes several important points concerning religion and mental health. Research demonstrates largely positive associations between religiosity and well-being. 2 Additionally, religion is a prevalent coping strategy in those experiencing adverse life events. 3

The Royal College of Psychiatrists' Spirituality and Psychiatry Special Interest Group holds the view that psychiatrists should respect their patients' religious and spiritual beliefs, and that these beliefs should be given thoughtful and serious consideration in the clinical setting. It is time to move away from the old tendency to see religious and spiritual experience as pathology and towards an appreciation of how religion and spirituality can be conducive to mental health.

Clinicians' and patients' religiosity

A religiosity gap has been frequently pointed out in empirical studies - most psychiatrists are less religious than their patients and neglect religious issues in clinical assessment. 4,5 However, there is some evidence that the situation may be changing: psychiatrists in the USA regularly enquire about patients' spiritual and religious beliefs, 6 an approach that is strongly endorsed by the Spirituality and Psychiatry Special Interest Group. We hold that it is important to understand the role that spirituality and religion play in people's lives; not simply the fact that such beliefs are held, but the ways in which individuals appeal to those beliefs when under stress. Taking a spiritual history is, therefore, important in understanding an individual's coping strategies, as well as identifying the potential for conflict with recommended treatments.

Individuals with religious beliefs may be extremely reluctant to engage with psychiatric services that they perceive to be atheistic, scientific and disparaging of religion. 7 For example, the ultra-Orthodox Hasidic Jewish community in London treat psychiatry and psychology with great suspicion and are generally reluctant to attend psychiatric consultations for fear of misdiagnosis. 8 How to engage religious groups in mainstream psychiatric services, as well as the problems that they encounter during assessment and treatment, should be a focus for future research. Also, the use of ‘culture brokers’ (key representatives of cultural groups) to mediate between religious communities and mental health services remains under-researched.

Religion and spirituality - is there a difference?

Recent mental health literature differentiates religion from spirituality. 9 Religion usually refers to socially based beliefs and traditions, often associated with ritual and ceremony, whereas spirituality generally refers to a deep-seated individual sense of connection through which each person's life is experienced as contributing to a valued and greater ‘whole’, together with a sense of belonging and acceptance. Spirituality is expressed through art, poetry and myth, as well as religious practice. Both religion and spirituality typically emphasise the depth of meaning and purpose in life. One does not, of course, have to be religious for life to be deeply meaningful, as atheists will avow. Yet, although some atheists might not consider themselves spiritual, many do. Spirituality is thus a more inclusive concept than religion.

Spirituality in illness and treatment

The idea that illness, both physical and mental, can bring a crisis of meaning is not new. All sickness of any severity shatters the taken-for-granted perspective on life, and necessitates some form of explanation and interpretation. Much of the writing in medical anthropology emphasises a meaning-centred approach; 10 this point is central to the concept of recovery in mental health. 11 For example, it is not enough to ask about voices. What is also important is how hearing voices influences a person's life, how they make sense of the experience and how might they best cope with the voices. Every psychiatric assessment should be far more than a symptom inventory; it needs to be, wherever possible, an enquiry into meaning.

On the other hand, the issue of praying with patients will always be contentious. For certain patients, this might be helpful and could potentially strengthen the therapeutic alliance. However, we advocate extreme caution (as does Koenig) 1 in responding to a patient's request to join with them in prayer; either way, the response calls for great sensitivity. The issue of prayer (and the use of religious/spiritual healing generally) raises significant issues about boundaries, the role of the psychiatrist and the ethics of self-disclosure. Where should the line be drawn? If a psychiatrist prays with their patients, could it be argued that they should be willing to read the Bible or other sacred texts with the patients, in order to quote passages that are felt to be healing? Again, this proposition will raise significant ethical dilemmas.

Koenig is correct in mentioning referral to clergy. 1 We emphasise that this should always be a two-way process, with detailed communication occurring on both sides. There is much that mental health professionals can learn from chaplaincy - a term used here to denote all faiths - and similarly there is a need for chaplains (who are often the first port of call for those with mental disorders) to be knowledgeable about mental health issues. The question arises as to how these two groups could best learn from each other.

The correspondence following Koenig's editorial has raised a number of concerns. Some professionals view taking a spiritual history as potentially ‘intrusive’, holding that spiritual and religious concerns go beyond the brief of the psychiatrist, and seeing prayer as a ‘non-clinical’ activity that blurs boundaries and creates ambiguity. 12 It has been argued that the practices recommended by Koenig are not evidence based. 13 Concerns have also been raised about the place of religion in delusional systems and that religious physicians may be less likely to seek psychiatric help for their patients. 14 These kinds of concern have reinforced some service users' perceptions of antipathy within psychiatry towards spirituality and religion. However, they also suggest that there is need for much more debate about the research evidence, ethical boundaries and the professional practices that govern the relationship between spirituality and psychiatry.

Conclusions

The Spirituality and Psychiatry Special Interest Group continues to highlight the need for all mental health professionals to be sensitive to spirituality, culture and religion. Psychiatrists need to understand how religion and spirituality affect their patients' lives in illness as well as health, and how spiritual and religious values can be harnessed to facilitate the healing process. 15 The burgeoning interest in this field, from within the profession and from service users alike, supports our view that an understanding of the relationship of spirituality and religion to mental health, far from being an optional extra, should be counted as essential to good clinical practice.

References

1 Koenig, HG. Religion and mental health: what should psychiatrists do? Psychiatr Bull 2008; 32: 201–3.
2 Koenig, HG, McCullough, ME, Larson, DB. Handbook of Religion and Health. Oxford University Press, 2001.
3 Pargament, KI. The Psychology of Religion and Coping: Theory, Research and Practice. Guilford Press, 1997.
4 Kroll, J, Sheehan, W. Religious beliefs and practice among 52 psychiatric inpatients in Minnesota. Am J Psychiatry 1981; 146: 6772.
5 Neeleman, J, Lewis, G. Religious identity and comfort beliefs in three groups of psychiatric patients and a group of medical controls. Int J Soc Psychiatry 1994; 40: 124–34.
6 Curlin, FA, Lawrence, RE, Odell, S, Chin, MH, Lantos, JD, Koenig, HG, et al. Religion, spirituality, and medicine: psychiatrists' and other physicians' differing observations, interpretations, and clinical approaches. Am J Psychiatry 2007; 164: 1825–31.
7 Dein, S. Working with patients with religious beliefs. Adv Psychiatr Treat 2004; 10: 287–94.
8 Loewenthal, KM. Religious issues and their psychological aspects. In Cross Cultural Mental Health Services: Contemporary Issues in Service Provision (eds Bhui, K, Olajide, D): 5465. Saunders, 1999.
9 Swinton, J. Spirituality and Mental Health Care. Jessica Kingsley, 2001.
10 Kleinman, A. The Illness Narratives. Basic Books, 1989.
11 Care Services Improvement Partnership, Royal College of Psychiatrists, Social Care Institute for Excellence. A Common Purpose: Recovery in Future Mental Health Services. SCIE, 2007.
12 Poole, R, Higgo, R, Strong, G, Kennedy, G, Ruben, S, Barnes, R, et al. Religion, psychiatry and professional boundaries [letter]. Psychiatr Bull 2008; 32: 356–7.
13 Lepping, P. Religion, psychiatry and professional boundaries [letter]. Psychiatr Bull 2008; 32: 357.
14 Mushtaq, I, Hafeez, MA. Psychiatrists and role of religion in mental health [letter]. Psychiatr Bull 2008; 32: 395.
15 Cook, C, Powell, A, Sims, A (eds). Spirituality and Psychiatry. RCPsych Publications, 2009.