A Novel Training Program for Mental Health Providers in Religious and Spiritual Competencies

June 1, 2019
Cassandra Vieten, PhD

Pearce, M. J., Pargament, K. I., Oxhandler, H. K., Vieten, C., & Wong, S. (2019). A novel training program for mental health providers in religious and spiritual competencies. Spirituality in Clinical Practice, 6(2), 73–82.

Religion and spirituality are areas of diversity and multiculturalism that have yet to be comprehensively addressed in most mental health training programs. Without this type of training, many practitioners lack the competence and confidence to engage in spiritually competent care—clinical practice that recognizes the importance of religion and spirituality in people’s identity, worldview, meaning-making, and, therefore, their psychological well-being. Emerging research on treatment outcomes and client preferences, as well as professional ethical mandates, support the need for training in spiritual competencies for mental health care. To address the gap between current professional training and the needs and realities of clinical practice, we have developed an online training program to assist practitioners in building their competency and comfort levels in integrating religion and spirituality into treatment. Spiritual Competency Training in Mental Health (SCT-MH) is a 7-hour asynchronous, online program consisting of 8 modules. The modules are designed to develop basic competency in 16 empirically derived spiritual competencies in mental health. The content was derived from numerous instructional materials and peer-reviewed publications, with input from leading experts in the field of spirituality and mental health. It is a multidisciplinary program, allowing mental health providers from any discipline and orientation to participate. The material is applicable for working with clients with a wide range of mental health issues from diverse religious and spiritual backgrounds. In this article, we will discuss how the program was developed, what it entails, who it was developed for, and future efforts to test it empirically.

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