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Incorporating spirituality into therapy

Incorporating spirituality into therapy

Owner: Dana McQuade

Group members: 1


In one of my previous classes, I encountered a debate over spirituality in therapy. In this class we met those with varying positions on the subject, but I found most were not open or just wanted to “play it safe” by not allowing the subject to be a part of their sessions in the future. The truth is, that religion/spirituality is a major force that guides the thoughts, feelings, and actions of everyone. I dare say even those who do not propose to have a religion or engage in any form of spirituality also have a distinct worldview that influences their techniques, modality, and values of their therapeutic process. I propose that just as we cannot truly separate our values from our modality/techniques used as a therapist, the world view and values regarding the spirituality of our clients cannot be separated from their lives either, and will arrive sooner or later in the therapy room. As future therapists, are you ready for this arrival?


As (future) therapists, I would like to highlight the need for more multicultural education in the area of competency in incorporating the spiritual components of our clients into therapy. We are already mandated ethically by CAP’s code of ethics (College of Alberta Psychologists – or by the college you are a member) to respect the dignity and diversity of others, however, many students do not consider how helpful it may be to explore with clients how their thoughts, feelings and actions are influenced by their spirituality.


I am not saying that we should embrace the knowledge of all the religions and spirituality of the world, as this would be a mammoth undertaking. Rather, that therapists should be trained in being competent in allowing spirituality/religion to be a part of the client’s healing/therapeutic process because their worldview is already highly influenced by it.


I have included a link to a resource, which is an eBook entitled Spirituality and the Therapeutic Process: A Comprehensive Resource From Intake to Termination by Aten & Leach (2008). The chapters of this book incorporate strategies for integrating spirituality into the therapeutic process.


The link for each chapter in pdf form is:


I also found chapter 12 most helpful and is entitled: Training therapists to address spiritual concerns in clinical practice and research and was written in the same eBook by Schlosser & Safran (2009) named, Implementing treatments that incorporate a client’s spirituality. Specifically, this chapter discusses the following:


(a) the commonalities between spirituality and therapy,

(b) a pan-theoretical approach to integrating spirituality into treatment,

(c) how spirituality can be implemented into traditional theories of therapy,

(d) spiritually accommodative and spiritually oriented approaches, and

(e) case examples of implementing spirituality into four different treatment approaches   (i.e., cognitive-behavioral, interpersonal, humanistic, and psychodynamic).


This eBook was an excellent resource for me and as future therapists looking to expand their knowledge in this particular area, I highly recommend it. Both resources are found on the Athabasca U Library website if you encounter any problems with the links provided. The links do not work unless you are logged into the library.




Aten, J. D., & Leach, M. M. (2008). Spirituality and the Therapeutic Process: A Comprehensive

Resource From Intake to Termination. American Psychological Association.


Schlosser, L. Z.; Safran, D. A.; In: Spirituality and the therapeutic process: A comprehensive

resource from intake to termination. Aten, Jamie D. (Ed); Leach, Mark M. (Ed); Publisher: American Psychological Association; 2009, pp. 193-216. [Chapter], Database: APA PsycInfo

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Dana McQuade November 28, 2022

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