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Health Forum Online    The Psychologist's Source for C.E. Credits Online

Integrating Spirituality into the Care of Psychological and Medical Illness: The Role of the Mental Health Professional

by Florence Gelo, DMin 2 CE Credits


Given the pervasiveness of religious and spiritual belief in the lives of many patients, it is curious that it is only recently that the association of religion, and/or spirituality, with mental and medical health clinical practice has become a focus of empirical research and published literature. Perhaps this scarcity of empirical attention stems from what has come to be seen as a basic and long-standing “disconnection” between the scientific and spiritual communities – from Galileo onward. In an effort to bridge this gap, this course provides mental healthcare professionals with the information necessary to integrate theoretical and evidence-based data with related psychological theory and practical clinical skills to treat patients facing acute, chronic, and/or terminal illness in a more holistic manner – attending to their spiritual and/or religious beliefs. The foundation of the information presented within this course view spirituality and religion as vital aspects of an individual and as potentially adaptive coping mechanisms in the face of a threat to one’s health.

Definitions of the terms “spirituality” and “religion” will be presented, along with relevant national prevalence data. The ethical obligation to address these aspects in the patient care will be discussed. Finally, an approach in which mental health providers can learn to sensitively support and affirm the health-promoting aspects of spirituality and/or religion in each patient's life will be demonstrated. Topics include the search for "meaning" in illness, acceptance vs. resignation with regard to one’s illness, and grace in coping across the disease continuum.


Continuing education for this online course is offered through the following approvals:


  • HealthForum is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. HealthForum maintains responsibility for this program and its content.
  • HealthForum has been approved by NBCC as an Approved Continuing Education Provider, ACEP No. 6216.  Programs that do not qualify for NBCC credit are clearly identified. HealthForum is solely responsible for all aspects of the programs.
  • HealthForumOnline, LLC, SW CPE is recognized by the New York State Education Department's State Board for Social Work as an approved provider of continuing education for licensed social workers #0355
  • Social Workers in other states and allied health professionals should consult their state licensing board to see which of these approval bodies are accepted toward licensure renewal in their state. Click here for more information and direct links to state boards.


Course Sections/Outline:

  • Introduction: Prevalence of Faith in the United States
  • Definitions: Spirituality and Religion
  • Ethical Obligations for Treatment
  • The Impact of Spirituality and Religious Beliefs on Health: Empirical Evidence
  • Incorporating Spirituality and Religion into the Therapy
  • Therapist, Know Thyself
  • References

Learning Objectives:

After completing this course, health professionals will be able to:
  • Summarize the theory- and evidence-based data regarding the association between spirituality and psychological, as well as physical, well-being
  • Identify at least 2 ways to clinically assess/address the spiritual needs of their patients and to respectfully distinguish between their own views and those of their patients
  • Appropriately discuss 3 relevant religious and/or spiritual topics with medically ill patients in a therapeutic capacity including meaning, acceptance and grace
Course Price: $50.00