Spirituality and Religion in Psychotherapy

Sociological Perspective on Religion

Sociologically speaking, religion is a unifying force that fosters cohesion and has the ability to influence societal beliefs as a whole.

Interplay Between Religion and Psychiatry

Religious organizations were in charge of caring for those who were mentally ill in a community up until the 19th century, which is why psychiatry and religion were intertwined. However, Charcot and Freud distinguished between the two occurrences because they connected religion to neurosis and hysteria.

Criticism and Discounting of Religious Experience

Since that time, psychiatry has a long history of criticizing and discounting religious experience. Health doctors in Canada claim that religion is outmoded and irrational, which causes emotional instability. Additionally, Canadian psychiatrists argue that Christian doctrine discourages the development of adult coping behavior. At its most extreme, religious experiences have been labeled as psychosis; they negatively affect skills that enable people to deal with anxiety.

Changing Attitudes Towards Religion in Mental Health Professionals

Psychiatrists have been considered less religious than their patients; as such, they do not value the role that religion plays in helping patients to cope with their illnesses. It is, however, of the essence to recognize the fact that there has been a change in attitude towards religion among mental health professionals.

Recognition of Religion in Psychiatry

For instance, in Canada, religious problems were introduced in DSM-IV in 1994 as a new diagnostic category. Moreover, research has been conducted into religion, spirituality, and mental health. Results have revealed that religious involvement is conducive to better mental health. Additionally, patients with psychiatric disorders have frequently used religion to cope with their distress. As such, it is crucial to incorporate religion in the field of psychiatry to improve treatment effectiveness to the patients. Although all religious beliefs and variables are not related to better mental health, further studies should be conducted to identify efficient measures of religion to dealing with psychiatry.

Works Cited

Bielefeld, David, and James Yager. “Issues of Spirituality and Religion in Psychotherapy Supervision.” Israel Journal of Psychiatry and Related Sciences 44(3) 2007, pp. 178-186.

Candida, Venturina. The Limits between Religion and Psychology in Religious Subjects: The Symbolic Role of the Devil.” Mediterranean Journal of Social Psychiatry. 1989, pp. 9‑10.

Curlin, Farr. A. “Religion, Spirituality, and Medicine: Psychiatrists’ and Other Physicians’ Differing Observations, Interpretations, and Clinical Approaches.” The American Journal of Psychiatry: Official Journal of the American Psychiatric Association. 164(12) 2007, pp. 1825-1831.

Hart, Curtis W. “Present at the Creation: the Clinical Pastoral Movement and the Origins of the Dialogue between Religion and Psychiatry.” Journal of Religion and Health. 49(4) 2010, 536-46.

Verhagen, Peter J. :Controversy or Consensus? Recommendations for Psychiatrists on Psychiatry, Religion and Spirituality.” Asian Journal of Psychiatry. 5(4) 2012, pp. 355‑357.

Yalom, Irvin D. “Religion and Psychiatry.” American Journal of Psychotherapy. 56(3) 2002, pp. 301‑16.

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