Ethical Issues for the Integration of Religion and Spirituality in Therapy

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Ethical Issues for the Integration of Religion and Spirituality in Therapy

Abstract

Religion plays an important role in the lives of many people, and in such cases, religious principles and beliefs influence all aspects of their lives. With the increasing interest in spirituality in the community, the intersection of psychological services, religion and spirituality is likely to be a growth area in psychology (Plante, 2007). However, working with clients around religion and spirituality issues does present potential ethical challenges.

Integrating spiritual and religious dimensions of clients ' lives into their treatment requires consummate professionalism and the highest quality of knowledge, skills, and attitudes. Psychologists who use or are thinking about using religious and spiritual therapies should be confident that these therapies are efficient for the religious/spiritual clients. They also need to remain alert to potential ethical violations when working with their clients. The American Psychological Association 's (APA) Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct (hereinafter referred to as the Ethics Code) (2010) provides some useful standards to help navigate this path.

Keywords: religion, spirituality, ethics, competence, multiple relationships, informed consent, integrity, respect. Ethical Issues for the Integration of Religion and Spirituality in Therapy

Introduction

Fisher (2012) explains the characteristics of integrating religion in therapy on a secular-theistic continuum and describes several areas of potential ethical concerns for practitioners. The following sections highlight those ethical challenges that transpire between both ends of the continuum.

Integrity issues: Blurred boundaries and multiple relationships

There are instances of registered psychologists providing psychological services who are also members of the clergy and religious orders, raising the potential for multiple relationships



References: Barnett, J. E., & Johnson, W. (2011). Integrating Spirituality and Religion Into Psychotherapy: Persistent Dilemmas, Ethical Issues, and a Proposed Decision-Making Process. Ethics & Behavior, 21(2), 147-164. doi:10.1080/10508422.2011.551471 Fisher, C. B. (2012). Decoding the Ethics Code: A Practical Guide for Psychologists, Updated Second Edition. Thousand Oaks, California: Sage Publications, Inc. Gonsiorek, J. C., Richards, P., Pargament, K. I., & McMinn, M. R. (2009). Ethical challenges and opportunities at the edge: Incorporating spirituality and religion into psychotherapy. Professional Psychology: Research And Practice, 40(4), 385-395. doi:10.1037/a0016488 Plante, T. G. (2007). Integrating spirituality and psychotherapy: Ethical issues and principles to consider. Journal Of Clinical Psychology, 63(9), 891-902. doi:10.1002/jclp.20383

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