In this review, past and recent research as well as evidence from the integrative concept of a Swiss clinic is summarized.
Religious coping is highly prevalent among patients with psychiatric disorders. Surveys indicate that 70–80% use religious or spiritual beliefs and activities to cope with daily difficulties and frustrations. Religion may help patients to enhance emotional adjustment and to maintain hope, purpose and meaning. Patients emphasize that serving a purpose beyond one ‘s self can make it possible to live with what might otherwise be unbearable. Programs successfully incorporating spirituality into clinical practice are described and discussed. Studies indicate that the outcome of psychotherapy in religious patients can be enhanced by integrating religious elements into the therapy protocol and that this can be successfully done by religious and non-religious therapists alike.
Many patients want service providers to address spiritual and religious issues during therapy. Some fear that clinicians will “reduce” or “trivialize” their beliefs or that they will see them as a sign of pathology. This requires clinicians to take a respectful and individualized approach to patient ‘s spiritual and religious background.
Mental health care programs integrating spiritual issues range from short-term psycho-educational groups to open-ended discussions of “religious issues” and the way they relate to mental health concerns. Programs illustrate possible forms of integration. For psychotherapy, analyzed studies clearly indicate that the outcome in religious patients can be enhanced by integrating religious elements into therapy and that this can be successfully done by religious and non-religious therapists alike.