Spirituality, religiousness and psychotherapy

Religious/spiritual beliefs and practices constitute an important part of culture and principles clients use to shape judgments and process information. Psychotherapists may use knowledge of these belief systems and appreciation of their potential to leverage client adherence and achieve better outcomes. However, many approaches have yet to do so and the variety of concepts of religiosity/spirituality may place obstacles to this important interface. This article raises certain concepts that we see as consistent, accessible, and capable of facilitating professional dialogue in the therapeutic sphere. We discuss the impact of subjectivity, states of consciousness and perceptions influenced by religiosity/spirituality, on mental health as well as the importance of psychotherapists actually focusing clients and their belief systems, developing models to mobilize hope, and boosting coping abilities. Despite the current distance between controlled studies and clinical practice, we discuss the integration of spiritual/religious dimensions in psychotherapy with ethical professionalism, knowledge, and the ability to align the collected information so as to benefit clients. Since only 7.3% of Brazilians have no religion, and very few psychotherapeutic approaches or practitioners do actually engage religiosity/spirituality, we point to the relevance of research on this issue and the importance of testing related psychotherapeutic proposals in clinical trials.

Religiousness; spirituality; psychotherapy


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