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Spirituality and Religion in Therapy

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Darian McCrackin

on 8 December 2015

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Transcript of Spirituality and Religion in Therapy

Spirituality and Religion
It is important to resist compartmentalizing religion and spirituality; spirituality is expressed in social contexts and religion’s critical function is spiritual in nature.
Spiritual Competency
Stems from a process of reflection
Ethical Issues and Recommendations for Practice
Determine resources for consultation
Skills for Therapy
During intake, obtain information to understand client’s religious/spiritual perspective
Spirituality and Religion in Therapy
Major Worldviews
Cultural Impact on Life
Gender and Sexuality
Health and Dysfunction
Morality and Values
Theory of Change
Religion, which has the Latin root religare, means to bind or bring together.

Connecting humans with transcendence and matters of ultimate concern.

Contains rituals and other sanctioned or guided behaviors that arise from a search for the sacred.

Is supported and validated within a particular religious group.
Grief and Loss
Difficult concept to define because of the limitations of language to describe the ineffable or mysterious.

The Latin root spiritus means breath.

Can be described by many dimensions, such as a relationship with God or a higher power, connectedness, meaning and purpose in life, values, and transpersonal phenomena.

Five salient themes of multicultural expressions of spirituality:
Concepts of God (higher power, the ultimate, mystery).
Relationship and connection
Subjective personal inner
Outward actions or behaviors
Way of life (morals, culture)
Explanation of the Mundane and Esoteric
Personal Growth
Raising Children
Historical Perspectives and Rationale for Including Religion and Spirituality
What are Counselor's beliefs?
Psychology’s relationship with religion and spirituality has not always been a harmonious one.

Sigmund Freud was one of the strongest early critics of religiosity, believing that it was a neurosis.

B. F. Skinner and Albert Ellis found little use for religion, preferring deterministic and rational approaches to life.

Conversely, Carl Jung acknowledged the importance of spirituality as a component of wholeness and as being necessary for healing from alcohol addiction.

As psychology embraced the scientific method as its foundation, religious and spiritual beliefs and behaviors became more removed, or were considered to be delusions and symptoms of mental illness

Gallup polls consistently report that more than 90% of Americans believe in God and more than 40% attend worship services regularly.
Current limits of understanding
Multicultural Context
Religious Privilege
Primal indigenous
African Traditional & Diasporic
Neuroscientists are now investigating how the brain processes spiritual phenomena and meditative states.

People develop a sense of identity or ego (cognitions, linearity, analytical judgment, and separateness) through left-brain processing.

The right hemisphere processes imagery, being in the moment, feeling a “oneness,” silence, spaciousness, timelessness, fluidity, and inner peace (all descriptors of a meditative state).

Brain scan to understand God-consciousness, or in other words, Nirvana or euphoria.

The belief in the universal applicability of the scientific method and approach, and the view that empirical science constitutes the most "authoritative" worldview or the most valuable part of human learning - to the exclusion of other viewpoints
Eastern meditation practices and encourages individuals to focus their attention in the present moment and with a nonjudgmental manner.
Several psychotherapy approaches have incorporated mindfulness meditation practices, including:
Mindfulness-based stress reduction.
Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy.
Dialectical behavior therapy for working with borderline personality disorder.
Acceptance and commitment therapy.
With the invention of sophisticated brain-imaging technology, studies have shown that meditation builds gray matter and increased functioning in areas for cognitive and emotional processing.
The concept of forgiveness is ancient and can be found in the teachings of most major world religions, including Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Judaism.

Forgiveness is a complex interpersonal process.

Impacts of forgiveness on depression, substance abuse, anxiety, relational problems, eating disorders, and improved physiological health.

Video: (10:00)
Religious Intolerance, Prejudice, and Discrimination
Although religion has strengthened ties in many communities, it also has isolated and separated individuals who do not follow the accepted beliefs or dominant practices.

Individuals who are LGBT often experience religious intolerance and discrimination as they struggle to find a religious organization in which they can be accepted.
Work within the client's beliefs
Recognize religious themes
Be able to accept client's beliefs

Culture and worldview.
Counselor self-awareness.
Human and spiritual development.
The ability to communicate about these issues in a way that promotes client welfare.
Assessment, and diagnosis.
Address issues based on therapeutic relevance
6 to 8 million people in the United States.
50% of people in the U. S. think that Islam is “
inherently anti-American,
anti-Western, or
supportive of terrorism.

Who Are Muslims?
1 billion Muslims in the world.
Islam is the second largest religion in the world.
Largest national Muslim population
Indonesia 170 million Muslims.
Pakistan follows with 136 million identified Muslims.
Immigrants U.S. Muslims
Arabs (26.2%),
South Asians (24.7%),
Middle Eastern non-Arabs (10.3%), and
East Asians (6.4%).
Non-Immigrants U.S. Muslims
African Americans (23.8%) and
Caucasian and Native Americans (11%).

What Is Islam?
Islam come from Arabic root word salaam:
One who submits to the will of Allah
Muhammed was a messenger of God and do not worship Muhammed.
Allah is the word for God of all humanity.
The Holy Qur’an
The Qur’an (or Koran) is the holy book for Muslims

Belief (iman)
Prayer (salat). Five times a day.
self-purification (zakat).
Fasting (sawm).
Pilgrimage to Mecca (Hajj) to be performed once in a lifetime.
Spirituality may have positive, negative, or neutral effects on symptoms
Setting goals can be consistent with client’s worldview
Choose or modify techniques appropriate with client’s religious viewpoint
Other Obligatory Practices
Dietary practices: There is a prohibition on the consumption of pork and alcohol.
Gender roles, customary dress, and family values.
Muslims also only traditionally support heterosexual marriage.
Clinical Issues and Therapeutic Implications
Refugee Status
Post-9/11 Anxiety
Family Issues
Depression and Suicide
Women’s Issues
Most Muslim Americans are ethnic minorities
Muslim American clients may share concerns similar to those of non-Muslim ethnic clients about the therapy process and their trust of psychologists
One way to build trust with Muslim clients is to be aware of negative stereotypes about Islam and Muslims
Another way is provide a place for Muslim American clients to discuss their experiences of discrimination

Areas of competencies for addressing religious and spiritual issues in counseling:
by Ali Koochek & Darian McCrackin
Establishing Rapport
Full transcript