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Spiritually Oriented Interventions in Psychotherapy With Religiously Diverse Populations---Theory, Research, and Practice

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Length: 50 minutes

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Session offered by Division 36.

Psychologists are ethically obligated to treat client religious and spiritual diversity with sensitivity and respect. In the past decade, a number of scholars have discussed specific client religious beliefs and practices in an attempt to help psychotherapists be culturally sensitive to clients’ religious and spiritual traditions.

In a separate but related fashion, there has also been a burgeoning interest in developing empirically supported spiritually-oriented interventions in psychotherapy (Richards & Worthington, 2010). Some interventions may or may not be tied to a specific religious tradition in the intervention’s general application. For example, therapeutic use of mindfulness, though rooted in Eastern spiritual traditions, need not be explicitly Buddhist in application. Similarly, although forgiveness is often tied to religious practice, the psychotherapeutic use of forgiveness need not be religious in application per se.

Other studies have evaluated the effectiveness of spiritually-oriented interventions, that, to be effective, must specifically incorporate a client’s religious and spiritual faith. For example, studies have used sacred texts from specific religious and spiritual traditions of clients in cognitive behavioral treatment packages to dispute irrational beliefs related to anxiety or depression (see Tan & Johnson, 2005, for a review).

In this symposium, we discuss the interface of two separate, but related lines of theory, research, and practice: the use of spiritually-oriented interventions with religiously diverse populations. We present spiritually-oriented interventions that are tied to both Eastern and Western religious traditions and focus on their application with Buddhist, Christian, Jewish, and Muslim clients.

Learning Objective 1
Assess the appropriateness of a spiritually-oriented intervention for a client from a specific religious and spiritual tradition.

Learning Objective 2
Utilize spiritually-oriented interventions for clients from diverse religious populations in a culturally sensitive manner.

Presenters: Jean L. Kristeller, PhD; Everett L. Worthington, Jr., PhD; Avidan Milevsky, PhD; Sameera Ahmed, PhD; Donald F. Walker, PhD (Chair)