Written by Lydia D’Ross, Ordained Minister and Outreach Chaplain for Renewal at Brookhaven Hospital
Widespread evidence shows that the interest in spirituality is not confined to individuals who attend church or who are identified as being religious (Shea, 2000). We know that theology describes spirituality as one’s belief in God; Psychology is the expression of one’s emotional or internal motives and desires. The spiritual sociology is how people perform spiritual practice as a ritual in groups within personal relationships (Meraviglia, 1999).
Spirituality plays an important role in health and healing, as researchers are beginning to discover the connections between religious and spiritual practices on physical health and psychological health. Even though spirituality is different from religion it is often confused as being the same (Burkhardt & Nagai-Jacobsen, 2005; L. Dossey, (2002).
Clinical health care researchers — other than chaplains — are providing the evidence that spiritual issues need to be addressed or health outcomes suffer. Christian neuropsychologists add richness to explaining cognitive and behavioral functioning because of their wider framework of understanding their patients relationally, spiritually, and psychologically.
Several studies have shown the positive associations between religion and health and well-being have begun to increase as more chaplains are serving in acute care settings (Koenig, 2004). Psychologists and other mental health professionals do not get an opportunity to focus on the spiritual domain and even when they are, they may be ill-equipped to deal with such issues in clinical practice. (Sharma, Charak, 2009)
Spirituality and the field of mental health have one common major goal- to alleviate emotional suffering. Sometimes mental health professionals misdiagnose and treat spiritual emergencies as psychotic states.
We hope in the years to come that more research can help with the spiritual framework and mental health treatment perspectives.