Occupational therapists practice holistically, meaning that we look at the whole person- physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. It is within my scope of practice to address spiritual issues with clients.
Spiritual support involves the amount to which a person experiences a connection with a higher power. This may involve supporting, protecting, guiding, teaching, helping and healing. This may form the foundation of their psychological wellbeing (SCRC 2010). Studies suggest that the subjective experience of spiritual support may be the central connection between spirituality and health (MacKenzie et al. 2000).
Religion is overwhelmingly associated with positive mental health (SCRC 2010). Individuals seek meaning when experiencing severe illnesses and spirituality is an important coping mechanism. Therefore it is highly appropriate for those working in the field of mental health to promote religious and spiritual practices. People working in mental health services can provide spiritual support to help people cope. By devoting time to explore spiritual issues and ask questions to discover a deeper meaning in life, they can help to create the spirituality-health connection (SCRC 2010).
Spiritual support may include;
- Educating the client about recovery as a potentially spiritual journey with a positive outcome
- Encouraging involvement with a spiritual community that is consistent with their beliefs and values
- Encouraging the client to seek advice and guidance from credible and appropriate spiritual leaders
- Encouraging the client to engage in spiritual and religious practices consistent with their beliefs and values
- Modelling your own spirituality when appropriate
Mental health programmes can, through their structures and culture create environments that promote spiritual support. To address spiritual support within a holistic recovery programme can improve clients quality of life, creating balance between the productive, pleasurable and restorative elements of their lives (SCRC 2010).
I have previously provided individual spiritual support to clients within the eating disorders and mental health settings, but this model can be applied to any setting. Please get in touch to discuss your needs, whether group or individual.
SCRC., 2010. Spiritual support. Available From: http://www.spiritualcompetency.com/recovery/lesson6.asp [Accessed 14/01/10].