Integrate Spirituality into Mental Health Care

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Spirituality, Religion and Mental Health
Since science and religion had started to draw apart in European thinking from the 16th century, by the time Western psychology and psychiatry developed, religion had become marginalized in Western academic thinking as so the disciplines that emerged were secular. Ideas about spirituality – a part of the discourse within religion not science – were excluded from both psychiatry and Western psychology as these disciplines strove increasingly to become ‘scientific’ (Fernando, 2007).
The mental health field has a heritage of 100 years of ignoring and pathologizing spiritual experiences and religion (Lukoff, 2000). In 1994, a new diagnostic category called “Religious or Spiritual Problem” was introduced in the DSM–IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association). For the first time, there is acknowledgement of distressing religious and spiritual experiences as nonpathological problems. As a co-author of the new category, Lukoff and Turner (1995) indicated that adequate training is not proved by most graduate programs and internship sites to prepare them to deal with religion and spirituality issues.
The DSM–IV (American Psychiatric Association, 2000) provides guidelines for distinguishing between content that reflects psychosis and content that is normative in the area of spirituality. First, note the client’s spiritual identity and associated worldview; Second, understand to what extent the client’s

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