Ethical Issues for the Integration of Religion and Spirituality in Therapy

Ethical Issues for the Integration of Religion and Spirituality in Therapy
Ethics and Standards of Professional Psychology
Patricia Elias
Kaplan University

Over the past ten years, new developments in the psychological treatment and assessment of clients of diverse spirituality and religiosity has occurred. These changes have prompted the need for a broader understanding of therapeutic practices related to client spirituality and religiosity. Individual differences, rareness of research regarding the harm or benefits of introducing the idea of faith into treatment, diversity among groups regarding religious practices and values have created new ethical dilemma (Fisher, 2009). Religion and spirituality are important components in the lives of most psychotherapy clients. However, most psychotherapists lack sufficient training to effectively and ethically address these issues with their clients (Barnett, 2011). This paper discusses the various Standards and Principles defined by the Code of Ethics that pertain to the clinical treatment of religious clients. Ethical considerations include assessments, advertising and public statements, informed consent, competence, boundary issues, multiple relationships, cooperation with other professionals, and methods of successful integration of religious and spiritual interventions in ongoing psychotherapy.
Ethical Considerations in a Religious Therapy Setting
Since these recent developments have created ethical dilemmas, before a therapist begins treatment they should familiarize themselves with how religion presents itself in mental health and psychopathology and ensure that no ethical standards have been breached: (Standards 2.01b Boundaries of Competence and 2.03, Maintaining Competence). These standards relate to the expertise and training of the psychologist, procedures which assess and treat clinically pertinent religious/spiritual beliefs and emotional reactions, and   the comprehension of information...