The profound shift in post-war cultural attitudes towards religion has left ‘spirituality’ conceptually confused and ‘spiritual care’ a contested practice. The confusion and the current challenges confronting ‘spirituality’ and ‘spiritual care’ mean that healthcare professionals who intuit value in these terms must clarify how they are conceptualizing ‘spirituality’, ‘spiritual need’ and ‘spiritual care’. This paper attempts to respond to this need for greater clarity. I begin by uncoupling religion and spirituality, drawing on Brown’s (2001) explanation of religious decline, and Heelas and Woodhead’s (2005) theory of ‘subjectivization’ as a way of accounting for the simultaneous decline of religion and growth of spirituality. I then consider the so far little-considered humanistic-phenomenological (i.e. non-religious) definition of spirituality from Elkins et al. (1988) which translates spiritual care into psychospiritual care. This, I propose, in conclusion, is care in the overlap between the discourses and practices of spirituality and psychotherapy.
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