RESIDENT: Integrating Spirituality into Mental Health Care

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Presenting Author(s): Dr. Nia Abdullayeva

Co-Author(s): Allan Donsky, Tinu Ruparell

Date and time: 25 Mar 2023 from 14:00 to 14:15

Location: Hawthorn B  Floor Map

Learning Objectives

  1. Explore the role of spirituality in mental health care;
  2. Interpret when spirituality can be life-sustaining vs. life-limiting for patients;
  3. Understand the assessment of spirituality in the health-care context.


Historically, the psyche (soul) was at the core of what psychiatric treatment could be at it's best. Over time, the focus shifted away from it’s original goal, and has been neglected by detached professionalism and a bias against matters of the human spirit. It is now dominated by the scientific lenses of neurobiology. An updated perspective based on a literature review increasingly sees spirituality as clinically relevant to holistic patient care. Patients have expressed a desire for spiritually informed mental health care but are still hesitant to request it, paralleled by therapists’ reluctance to raise the subject unprompted (Rosmarin and Koenig, 2020). These findings suggest that spiritually integrated care improves mental health outcomes, adherence to treatment, and patient satisfaction (Rosmarin and Koenig, 2020) by providing enhanced inner coping skills and social supports (Griffith, 2010). It also allows for patients and practitioners to embrace a broader understanding of the human condition beyond symptoms. Many newer treatment modalities such as MBSR, DBT and CBT already include such perspectives. While acknowledging that spirituality is largely adaptive, it is recognized that there is the potential for harm with any intervention. Nonetheless, there are valuable guidelines for appreciating these pitfalls and tools to assess patient’s spirituality (Griffith, 2010). The time is right for the spiritual aspects of humanity to reclaim their place alongside the bio-psycho-social model, to provide the kind of comprehensive psychiatric care that is at the core of our healing arts.

Literature References

  1. Rosmarin, D. H., & Koenig, H. G. (Eds.). (2020). Handbook of spirituality, religion, and mental health. Academic Press.
  2. Griffith, J. L. (2010). Religion that heals, religion that harms: A guide for clinical practice. Guilford Press.

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