Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Hartford Hospital. Institute of Living, Religion, Spirituality, Pastoral counseling, Psychiatric hospitals-Outpatient services, Intersectionality, Adult outpatient therapy


The purpose of this study was to explore how the themes of religion and spirituality emerge in the clinical setting and how we can assess whether our current approach truly serves the needs of the clients. Recent literature has demonstrated an increasing exploration of these themes in research, while outcome analyses are slowly emerging. This suggests a tremendous opportunity to use scholarly work to bolster all working professionals in mental health who engage patients in discussions around potential religious or spiritual dimensions in their lives. Through the use of a focus group and two subsequent individual interviews, I wanted to gain the insight of working professionals who either engage primarily as outpatient therapists or who minister to individuals in a pastoral care setting. Themes of prior training on religion and spirituality, perceived relevance of these topics in mental health, religiosity and resilience or coping skills, clients' representations of religiosity (both adaptive and maladaptive), as well as views on religion or spirituality as a tool in social work were discussed. Findings revealed that both groups viewed religion or spirituality as appropriate and integral to a person's intrinsic views and belief systems. The points of divergence were in regards to the collaboration (or potential for collaboration) between outpatient clinicians and pastoral care workers, the training or education required for staff on these themes, and how respect for these themes can be translated into sensitive practice with patients.




iii, 55 pages. Thesis (M.S.W.)-Smith College School for Social Work, 2014. Includes bibliographical references (pages 45-48)