Abstract: Spiritual and religious beliefs and practices are commonplace in the general population of North America today. In recognition of this fact, research on the interplay of spirituality, religion, and psychological variables increased substantially over the past 3 decades; a recent PsycInfo search identified over 28,000 scientific contributions to this area. However, the relevance of spirituality and religion to clinical practice remains poorly understood. As a result, many practitioners of empirically supported treatments may be reticent to address spirituality and religion in the course of their work. The intent of this special series is to help demystify this topic with the hope of increasing dissemination of spiritually sensitive, empirically supported treatments. The authors in this series cast some light on this understudied topic by highlighting several salient spiritual and religious issues in behavior change. Moreover, based on case material, the authors illustrate how to assess for and address both adaptive and maladaptive utilizations of spirituality and religion in the practice of cognitive behavior therapy. This introductory paper presents a rationale for why it is important to address this topic, and provides an overview of recent research developments in the creation of spiritually integrated psychosocial treatments.
Abstract: This paper examines whether religion and spirituality (R/S) should be incorporated into treatment for patients with serious mental illness. This question merits attention, especially in light of the strong presence of R/S in the United States and, in particular, among members of ethnic minorities. While the literature is somewhat mixed, prior research supports the view that incorporating adaptive R/S elements into treatment for patients with serious mental illness is beneficial, particularly for patients who do not exhibit severe psychotic symptoms. Drawing from our experiences in developing a family-focused Culturally-Informed Therapy for Schizophrenia (CIT-S), we will also highlight the importance of addressing spiritual issues within minority populations. In the second half of this paper, we will present several case illustrations of how R/S issues were used in CIT-S to help patients make sense of adverse situations and obtain much-needed support and coping resources outside the treatment room. Findings from this study indicate that religion and spirituality can often be incorporated into treatment in a way that coalesces with patients' values and enhances treatment gains. Future research should investigate how therapists' own R/S values interact with those of their clients, and whether congruency in R/S values has any impact on treatment efficacy.
Abstract: Minimal attention has been given to the role that religion may play in the development, maintenance, and treatment of eating disorders. Many religions espouse specific doctrines about the nature and purpose of the body as well as prescribe particular body grooming and eating practices. These doctrines and practices influence individuals' schemas and experiences of the body and eating, which can either contribute to or provide protection from eating disorders. This paper describes pathways through which religious beliefs and practices may impact risk for and maintenance of eating disorders. Methods for integrating religious concepts, practices, and resources into standard cognitive-behavioral treatment for eating disorders are discussed, including interventions that address purported religiously oriented contributory and protective factors. Treatment of a religious client with an eating disorder is described to illustrate the incorporation of religiously oriented interventions in practice
Abstract: A cancer diagnosis is one of the most difficult diagnoses for any person to receive and cope with. Numerous individuals turn to religion or their spiritual beliefs to find meaning through the process of coping with such a serious illness. Therefore, in recent years research on religious coping has received increased attention. The aim of the present paper is to examine the area of religious coping, along with its dimensions and ways to assess it, as it relates to cancer. Moreover, this paper presents a relatively new approach to the psychological treatment of individuals with cancer. Namely, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a spiritually and religiously sensitive treatment. This approach aims to first explore a person's values (including spiritual and religious values), to subsequently help the person accept any experience that the person has no control over in light of these values, and to then commit and take actions consistent with these values. Recent evidence providing initial support for this approach is discussed. Finally, a case example is presented to illustrate how ACT may be carried out to address religious coping in outpatient clinical practice with cancer patients.
Abstract: Scrupulosity, the obsessional fear of thinking or behaving immorally or against one's religious beliefs, is a form of obsessive-compulsive disorder that has been relatively understudied to date. Treating religious patients with scrupulosity raises a number of unique clinical challenges for many clinicians. For example, how does one distinguish normal beliefs from pathological scrupulosity? How does one adapt exposures to a religious patient whose fears are related to sinning? How far should one go in exposures in such cases? How and when does one include clergy in treatment? We address these issues and report a case example of the successful treatment of an ultra-Orthodox Jewish woman using the treatment principles that we recommend for religious individuals with scrupulosity.
Abstract: The argument has been made that religious and spiritual (R/S) forms of treatment, or R/S adaptations of existing treatments, are an appropriate, culturally sensitive, and potentially efficacious method of intervention when working clinically with religious patients experiencing psychological, behavioral, or physiological dysfunction. The previous articles in this special series describe four such interventions designed for use with patients with particular presenting problems including serious mental illness, cancer, eating disorders, and scrupulosity. This article offers a brief historical presentation on the growth of interest in R/S in clinical psychology and behavioral medicine, with particular attention to the general issue of the role of values in therapy, and includes criticisms of integrating R/S in treatment. The difficulty of appreciating unique R/S perspectives and their relevance for particular clients is emphasized and the question of whether a "true" understanding of R/S beliefs necessarily leads to better health is examined. Each of the four therapies presented in this special series is individually analyzed, and it is clear that they offer sensitive and culturally relevant approaches to treating the various disorders, though areas of potential improvement or possible confusion are highlighted. Finally, the following are deemed essential if R/S-informed therapies are to impact the field and be appropriately introduced with clients: (a) training of future and current practitioners; (b) longitudinal research on R/S; (c) outcome studies of R/S interventions; and (d) adequate funding for the achievement of these goals.