Publications and Research

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2010

Abstract

The purpose of this paper is to describe to psychologists and other clinicians a continuum of mental health care for persons of diverse religions. The continuum delineates boundaries between clinical care provided by mental health professionals and religious care provided by clergy, as well as describes pathways of collaboration across these boundaries. A prevention science based model of Clergy Outreach and Professional Engagement (COPE) is offered to guide this collaboration. The model describes a continuum that moves from the care already present in religious communities, through professional clinical care provided in response to dysfunction and returns persons to their own spiritual communities. One challenge for clinicians is that in addition to a wide diversity of beliefs and practices across religions, there is great ethnic diversity within religions. These diversities are reflected in varied correlations with mental health outcomes. Therefore, we recommend that clinicians assess religious beliefs and their cultural variations when designing religious inclusive psychotherapy specific to the client. There are ethical concerns as to the place of religion in clinical care. The “Resolution on Religious, Religion-Based and/or Religion-Derived Prejudice” adopted by the American Psychological Association has stated that it is not the role of professional psychologists to be spiritual guides. Through spiritual assessment of clients and strategic collaboration with religious leaders via COPE, mental health professionals can focus their efforts on clinical care that respects and incorporates the religious views of clients and does not attempt to recreate the lived religions of the clients’ communities.

 
 

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