Spirituality, Religion, and Psychological Counseling

Thomas G. Plante and Carl E. Thoresen

in The Oxford Handbook of Counseling Psychology

Published in print November 2011 | ISBN: 9780195342314
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

 Spirituality, Religion, and Psychological Counseling

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A substantial majority of people believe in God in some form and consider themselves to be spiritual, religious, or both. However, most psychologists and other mental health professionals perceive themselves as not religious and have little if any training in spirituality and religious diversity. Psychologists can use spiritual principles and practices to better serve clients, even if they do not share the same or any religious or spiritual perspective. We review and illustrate the emerging relationship between psychology, spirituality and religion, and its current status. Benefits of religious/spiritual engagement for physical, social, and mental health are outlined. We also comment on religious hazards to health. Spiritual tools commonly found in major religious traditions are discussed and suggested for use by counseling psychologists and others under certain conditions. A brief spiritual inquiry method is presented. Results of a spiritually focused intervention using spiritual practices serves as an example. Ethical and research issues are also discussed, along with important questions to consider.

Keywords: spirituality; religion; faith; health; counseling; psychotherapy; professional issues

Article.  16177 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Counselling Psychology

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