This study evaluates the spiritual competencies of mental health professionals in the US and whether they want more spiritual competency in mental health care. Religion and spirituality are important aspects of human diversity that should receive adequate attention in cultural competence training for psychologists. Furthermore, spiritual and religious beliefs and practices are relevant to psychological and emotional well-being, and clinicians who are trained to sensitively address these domains in their clinical practice should be more effective. Our research team previously published a set of 16 religious and spiritual competencies based on a combination of focus group and survey research with the intent that they could be used to guide training. Next, we conducted a survey to determine whether these competencies would be acceptable to a broader population of practicing clinicians. Results indicated a large degree of support for the proposed competencies. Between 73.0 and 94.1% of respondents agreed that psychologists should receive training and demonstrate competence in each of the 16 areas. The majority (52.2-80.7%) indicated that they had received little or no training, and between 29.7% – 58.6% had received no training at all, in these competencies.
Now, we are collaborating with researchers at Bowling Green State University, the University of Massachussetts, and Baylor University on a project funded by the Templeton Foundation to survey providers and patients about the extent to which their spiritual and religious beliefs and practices are attended to in mental health care, and whether they think they should be, as well as developing a spiritual competency training for mental health professionals that offers CEs.
In addition, Dr. Vieten teaches online courses on Spirituality and Mental Health for clergy and mental health professionals with the Center for Innovation in Ministry at the San Francisco Theological Seminary. Finally Dr. Vieten and colleague Shelley Scammell co-authored the book Spiritual and Religious Competencies in Clinical Practice: Guidelines for Psychotherapists and Mental Health Professionals.