Claudia Psaila


Conference 2014


JSS 4.2

Past News

JSS 4.2 Mental Health Practitioners’ Understanding and Experience of Spirituality and Religion…

by Dr Claudia Psaila, University of Malta, Malta
Journal for the Study of Spirituality 4, no. 2, 2014, pp. 189-203

Recent years have seen increased interest in the relationship between spirituality, religion and psychotherapy. Spirituality and religion may provide a lens through which to view one’s relationships and experiences and may be crucial during moments of crises and times of transition. A person’s use of religion and spirituality may be positively linked to her or his functioning and mental health. However, the opposite is also true since clients’ spiritual problems may underlie the issues or concerns that they bring to therapy. Consequently, dealing with spirituality and religion seems an unavoidable reality for the psychotherapist to the extent that some practitioners now regard providing spiritually sensitive therapy as an ethical obligation, particularly within a multicultural context. However, there is no consensus as to a definition of spirituality. Studies have shown that spirituality is a very individual phenomenon and that a person’s definition of spirituality is linked to his or her understanding and experience of life and religion and is further influenced by her or his cultural context. The implication is that this is true to each person in the therapeutic encounter: the psychotherapist and the client. This paper discusses the findings of a study in Malta where the spiritual dimension of psychotherapy was explored from the practitioner’s perspective. The focus is on the mental health practitioners’ understanding and experience of spirituality and religion and the resultant implications for practice.

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