Novel Online Training Program Improves Spiritual Competencies in Mental Health Care

December 2, 2019
Cassandra Vieten, PhD

Pearce, M. J., Pargament, K. I., Oxhandler, H. K., Vieten, C., & Wong, S. (2019). Novel online training program improves spiritual competencies in mental health care. Spirituality in Clinical Practice.

We designed the online Spiritual Competency Training in Mental Health (SCT-MH) program to train providers across mental health fields in basic religious and spiritual (RS) competencies. The goal was to help address the professional training gap in RS aspects of multicultural diversity and integration. We hypothesized that providers completing the program would demonstrate an increase in attitudes, knowledge, and skills relevant to RS issues in mental health care. The SCT-MH program, offered online through the edX platform, consists of 8 hr of multimedia content. Participants (N = 169) across a broad range of mental health disciplines completed a pre- and posttraining survey, which evaluated their spiritual competency using measures assessing their attitudes, knowledge, and skills in the intersection of RS and mental health. We also collected qualitative data to evaluate participants’ levels of satisfaction with the content and format of the program. Participants showed significantly increased spiritual competency in all measures of attitudes, knowledge, and skills following their participation in the course. Participants reported high satisfaction with both the content and the online format of the training program, and a decrease in perceived barriers to integrating RS in practice. These results demonstrate that a brief, novel online training program can help address the current gap between the clinical need and professional requirements for spiritual competency and the general lack of graduate training in this area of multiculturalism. Suggestions for how this program and others like it can be integrated into graduate education and impact clinical care are discussed. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)

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