Religion, Spirituality, and Ethics in Psychiatric Practice

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



The Journal of nervous and mental disease




The interface of religion, spirituality, and psychiatric practice has long been of interest to the ethical psychiatrist. Some prominent early psychotherapists had a strained relationship with religion and spirituality. They posited that religion and spirituality were forms of mental illness, which discouraged the discussion of these values during treatment despite the fact that many patients subscribed to a religious or spiritual viewpoint. Contrarily, others supported a harmonious relationship with religion and spirituality and served as trailblazers for the incorporation of religion and spirituality into psychiatric treatment.As the field of psychiatry continues to evolve, additional dimensions of the relationship between religion, spirituality, and psychiatric practice must be explored. Today, many modern psychiatrists appreciate the importance of incorporating religion and spirituality into treatment, but questions such as whether it is ethical to practice psychiatry from a particular religious or spiritual viewpoint or for psychiatrists to advertise that they subscribe to a particular religion or spirituality and to engage in religious or spiritual practices with their patients remain nuanced and complex. In this resource document, the authors put forth and examine the ramifications of a bio-psycho-social-religious/spiritual model for psychological development and functioning, with this fourth dimension shifting the focus from symptom reduction alone to include other aspects of human flourishing such as resilience, meaning-making, and hope.


Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences