How comfortable are you talking with clients about spirituality/religion/God?
In a 2010 article titled The Assessment of Spirituality and Religiousness in Schizophrenia Mohr et al published results of surveying patients in Geneva, Switzerland and in Trois Riviere, Quebec. Interestingly, the Quebec subjects were clients receiving ACT services!
“Spirituality and religion have been found to be important in the lives of many people suffering from severe mental disorders, but it has been claimed that clinicians “neglect” their patients’ religious issues.” They go on to note that “… in the last 10 years, studies conducted in Canada, the United States and Europe have highlighted the crucial role of spirituality and religion in patients’ daily lives and in coping with their illness, notably through its role in the recovery process.”
So what did they find? That:
“The clinical interview may be used … to elicit the importance of religion to cope with daily difficulties, either linked to the illness (for patients) or other daily difficulties (for clinicians). For both patients and clinicians, religion was very important in providing meaning to life, in coping with life difficulties, in giving meaning to these difficulties, in gaining control or in obtaining comfort…“
For this research Mohr used the Semi-Structured Clinical Interview for Assessment of Spirituality and Religious Coping for Use in Psychiatric Research – a bit of a cumbersome title if you ask me –in the appendix of a 2007 article by Mohr et al – click to view (sorry but the 2010 article is still in the pay to view domain).
I wish I’d talked more with patients about how their faith affected their lives. I think it a great idea to have some kind of assessment tool to use for this. At the same time ACT clinicians already have so many tasks to juggle, does it make sense to add more? I hear you thinking “Shalom are you kidding – another assessment?” What about not trying to do this in the first year a client is working with the team. But maybe in the second year, when hopefully, the client has more stability in their life?
All ACT clinicians should be comfortable talking with clients about things such as family relationships, about voices and their impact, about substance use (this should NOT just be foisted on the substance use specialist on a team!). Why shouldn’t ACT clinicians also feel comfortable talking with clients about faith?
And, like so much of the work that is ACT, it’s mostly about turning oneself into an extra-sensitive giant ear – to just listen!