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Also, she added that what is more of a concern is the theology of a therapist. In fact, some patients seek therapists who share their beliefs in this area.
“For [therapists] who do not advertise themselves as being of a particular theological bent, then theology usually does not enter the discussion of the session unless the patient brings it up,” Rosenquist said. “It is possible for a therapist to help the patient sort through their own theology and ferret out the beliefs that lead to positive emotions and pro social actions without disclosing his or her own theology.”
In the end, positive religious beliefs and spirituality can both lead to mental health wellness.
“Research shows rather consistently that those who have a positive theology and positive spiritual practice do better (have better therapy outcomes, statistically better mental health on a variety of standard measures) than people who have a negative theology (i.e., a punishing God and a lot of fears about doing bad or getting it wrong),” Rosenquist said. “Similarly, people who have a spiritual practice that is positive and amounts to some kind of mindfulness practice do a lot better in therapy and in life.”
Jane Simington, a therapist and the owner of Taking Flight International Corporation and Taking Flight Books, said in an email that therapists should address emotional, physical, mental and spiritual aspects in therapy.
“By nature of being human all people have a spiritual dimension to their lives, and the spiritual dimension of our humanness has a pervasive influence on thought, behavior, and general health and well-being,” Simington said. “It is [well-known] that a crisis can drive us inward ... to struggle with the deeper questions of life and death, questions of meaning and purpose, the deep ‘why’ questions in life.”
She said people can struggle with deep mental health pain, called “soul pain.”
“Soul pain is the intense inner [pain] where a person struggles with the beliefs they once held and which no longer seem to be supporting them,” Simington said.