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Spiritual and Religious Competencies in Clinical Practice

Spiritual and Religious Competencies in Clinical Practice
Guidelines for Psychotherapists and Mental Health Professionals




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ISBN: 9781626251052
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$49.95In Stock
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About the Book

Spirituality lies at the heart of many clients' core values, and helps shape their perception of themselves and the world around them. In this book, two clinical psychologists provide a much-needed, research-based road map to help professionals appropriately address their clients’ spiritual or religious beliefs in treatment sessions.

More and more, it has become essential for mental health professionals to understand and competently navigate clients' religious and spiritual beliefs in treatment. In Spiritual and Religious Competencies in Clinical Practice, you’ll find sixteen research-based guidelines and best practices to help you provide effective therapy while being conscious of your clients' unique spiritual or cultural background.

With this professional resource as your guide, you will be prepared to:

  • Take a spiritual and religious history when treating a client
  • Attend to spiritual or religious topics in a clinical setting
  • Hold clear ethical boundaries regarding your own religious or spiritual beliefs
  • Know when and how to make referrals if topics emerge which are beyond the scope of your competence

This book is a must-read for any mental health professional looking to develop spiritual, religious, and cultural competencies.


Cassandra Vieten (Author)
Cassandra Vieten, PhD, is a licensed clinical psychologist, president and CEO of the Institute of Noetic Sciences, and a scientist in the Mind-Body Medicine Research Group at the California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute. Her research has... Read more

Books by Cassandra Vieten

Shelley Scammell (Author)
Shelley Scammell, PsyD, is a licensed clinical psychologist with a twenty-year practice in the San Francisco Bay Area. She is an adjunct professor at the California Institute of Integral Studies, and has taught psychology at Sonoma State University... Read more

Books by Shelley Scammell

Daniel J. Siegel (Foreword by)
Daniel J. Siegel, MD, is executive director of the Mindsight Institute and associate clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of California, Los Angeles School of Medicine. He is author of The Developing Mind, The Mindful Brain, and other... Read more

Books by Daniel J. Siegel


“This book fills a very important gap in the training of most mental health professionals. Carefully researched, well organized, and wonderfully practical, it will help any clinician who recognizes the importance of spirituality and religion in most people’s lives yet feels uncertain of how to approach these issues in psychotherapy.”
Ruth Baer, PhD, professor of psychology at the University of Kentucky and author of The Practicing Happiness Workbook

“Spiritual and religious competency is a foundational skill for clinicians, but has typically received much less attention than it deserves. This book thoughtfully engages key issues and provides clinicians with up-to-date resources and strategies for building this core skill.”
Willoughby Britton, PhD, assistant professor of research in the department of psychiatry and human behavior at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University

“If you’re a psychologist or clinician, put Spiritual and Religious Competencies in Clinical Practice on your list of must-read books. It will be your guide to helping clients access the religious and spiritual resources—like coping skills or social support—available for their treatment or recovery. Keep it close and refer to it often!”
Christine Carter, PhD, author of The Sweet Spot and Raising Happiness

“If you are unaware of the spiritual dimensions of healing, your competence will be seriously compromised. This is a must-read manual for therapists, healers, doctors, nurses, or anyone in the healing professions.”
Deepak Chopra, MD

“This critical resource takes a deep look at the self-insight, knowledge, and skills that clinicians need to have in working with clients of varying spiritual and religious identities. Unlike vague advice to be open and empathic, this book relies on research and provocative clinician experiences to highlight specific recommendations to take seriously psychologists’ oft-ignored requirement to respect and take seriously clients’ diverse spiritual and religious identities.”
Adam Cohen, associate professor of psychology at Arizona State University

“This is a much-needed contribution that significantly raises awareness of religious and spiritual dimensions of clients’ lives, highlights client resources that can be drawn upon, and expands the diversity discussion in a thoughtful and inclusive way. I would recommend this book for every therapist.”
Brant Cortright, PhD, professor of psychology at the California Institute of Integral Studies and author of Psychotherapy and Spirit and Integral Psychology (SUNY Press)

“One of the major developments in psychology and medicine in recent decades is the realization that spiritual and religious practices can have major positive influences on health and longevity.  These findings, buttressed by thousands of studies, are now largely accepted as part of the canon of medical science. These practices are not handed down from on high, but can be taught by professionals who are competent to do so. The development of these competencies is what this breakthrough book is all about. Spiritual and Religious Competencies in Clinical Practice is a doorway toward a more empathic, compassionate, and effective form of healing. This book is of value not just for mental health professionals, but for practicing physicians as well.”
Larry Dossey, MD, executive editor of Explore: The Journal of Science and Healing and author of One Mind

“Aimed at clinicians, this is also a quietly profound and transformational book. It draws readers into a heartfelt engagement with their own deepest questions and longings while offering many practical guidelines and suggestions for skillful, effective work with diverse spiritual, religious, and existential issues. Unique, and destined to be a classic in the field.”
Rick Hanson, PhD, author of Buddha’s Brain

“Grounded solidly in research, Vieten and Scammell do a masterful job of applying general multicultural competence issues involving therapist attitudes, knowledge, and intervention strategies to the spiritual and religious domains. A must-read for all mental health professionals, but especially those who find their commitment to diversity most challenged by clients’ spirituality and religiousness.”
Peter C. Hill, PhD, Rosemead School of Psychology, Biola University

“In this revolutionary book, Vieten and Scammell open our eyes to the power of the sacred in the therapeutic encounter, enabling client and clinician to find purpose, healing, and joy in the individual’s religious and spiritual convictions.”
Dacher Keltner, professor of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley; director of Greater Good Science Center; and author of Born to Be Good: The Science of a Meaningful Life

“I love this book. I wish I’d been given this when I first began my clinical psychology studies. Cassandra Vieten and Shelley Scammell have done a masterful job in clearly elucidating the subtle spiritual and religious competencies that we need to understand within ourselves, and with the people we counsel, be they clients, patients, students, or parishioners. Spiritual and Religious Competencies in Clinical Practice is a trailblazing book that should be mandatory reading for all of us who intend to be or are already in clinical practice, no matter our discipline. I love how Vieten and Scammell weave together pertinent research, case vignettes, and didactic material to form a beautiful tapestry of understanding for all of us who follow in their footsteps. We truly do great service to our clients and ourselves by understanding and integrating the sixteen core principles that Vieten and Scammell have so skillfully set before us in their book.”
Richard Miller, PhD, clinical psychologist, president of the Integrative Restoration Institute, past president of the Institute for Spirituality and Psychology, and author of The iRest Program for Healing PTSD
“Building on sound clinical research and practice, Vieten and Scammell have created an excellent, user-friendly book that will guide mental health professionals in the development of the attitudes, knowledge, and skills for competence in spiritually integrated psychotherapy.”
Kenneth I. Pargament, PhD, professor in the department of psychology at Bowling Green State University and author of Spiritually Integrated Psychotherapy: Understanding and Addressing the Sacred
“Spiritual experiences are among the most powerful influences on the human psyche and the few universals among all human cultures, and yet they’ve long been addressed only superficially in professional psychological training, leading to an unfortunate ‘spiritual illiteracy’ among many mental health professionals. Thankfully, with the publication of this excellent, thorough, nuanced volume, that painful gap in psychological training can now be filled.”
Terry Patten, coauthor of Integral Life Practice
“An extraordinary book weaving together the rigor of science with the wisdom of contemplation. I give it my highest recommendation.”
Shauna Shapiro, professor at Santa Clara University and author of Mindful Discipline and The Art and Science of Mindfulness
“Spirituality and religion are subjects of ultimate concern and yet confusing to many people seeking therapy today. These excellent guidelines, well grounded in research and knowledge of best practices, are a valuable resource for all helping professionals and the diverse populations they serve.”
Frances Vaughan, PhD, psychologist and author of Shadows of the Sacred
“How do we incorporate spirituality into our practice? Deep down, most of us clinicians and therapists know that spirituality is an essential piece of health and healing. Unfortunately, it is rarely addressed. Vieten and Scammell’s amazing work walks us through how to bring this forgotten piece back into our practices to truly treat the whole being.”
Helané Wahbeh, ND, MCR, assistant professor at Oregon Health and Science University
“With rare comprehensiveness and clarity, Vieten and Scammell skillfully guide readers through the whys and the hows of developing clinical competencies in dealing with the spiritual and religious issues that can invisibly trouble patients and derail their well-being. Their sixteen competencies are right on target. The substantive scientific data, case studies, practical tools, and resources for every competency help clinicians venture skillfully into this uncharted but essential domain of psychological healing. An incredible achievement.”
Linda Graham, MFT, author of Bouncing Back: Rewiring Your Brain for Maximum Resilience and Well-Being
“Spiritual and religious beliefs to a large extent shape our world view. Without this understanding a therapist can easily miss a crucial element of why someone thinks or acts as he or she does. Spiritual and Religious Competencies in Clinical Practice is a groundbreaking work. It not only delivers important information that’s been sorely lacking in this area but, even more, provides tools that can help a therapist guide a patient toward true transformation. A real contribution to the field!”
James Baraz, coauthor of Awakening Joy and cofounding teacher of Spirit Rock Meditation Center

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