Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Psychotherapy patients-Religious life, Psychotherapist and patient, Self-disclosure, Spirituality-Psychological aspects, Quantitative research, Mixed methods research, Spirituality, Religion, Psychotherapy, Social work, Client perceptions, Attitudes, Cultural competency, Qualitative research


The spiritual and religious life of clients is an important clinical factor in therapy; it holds significant meaning and may support therapeutic outcome. This study explored client perceptions of the quality of care they received in therapy when disclosing their spiritual/religious life to their therapists as well as the factors that might contribute to their perceptions of care and disclosure. A total of 75 respondents participated in an online survey tool composed of quantitative and qualitative questions. Qualitative responses were coded and data was analyzed using descriptive statistics. Findings showed that most clients (73%) shared some or all of their beliefs; in contrast only 40% shared their spiritual or religious experiences. Almost all clients (80-90%) have had a significant spiritual/religious experience, most often describing a feeling of interconnection and well-being, a loss, gain, or change of faith, high intuition, and/or a sensory experience (auditory, visual, or tactile.) Fifty percent of clients who shared their beliefs with their therapists were satisfied or very satisfied with the care they received; 23% were somewhat satisfied or unsatisfied. Of clients who shared their experiences 38% were satisfied and less than 10% were somewhat satisfied or unsatisfied. A poor working alliance, misattuned responses, lack of engagement, and the therapist's lack of knowledge on the subject were reasons for low levels of satisfaction. The study concludes with suggestions on how to improve the therapeutic quality of care for spiritual or religious clients.




vi, 107 pages. Thesis (M.S.W.)--Smith College School for Social Work, 2015. Includes bibliographical references (pages 81-87)