Ethical Issues for the Integration of Religion and Spirituality in Therapy
Ethics and Standards of Professional Psychology
Over the past ten years, new developments in the psychological treatment and assessment of clients of diverse spirituality and religiosity has occurred. These changes have prompted the need for a broader understanding of therapeutic practices related to client spirituality and religiosity. Individual differences, rareness of research regarding the harm or benefits of introducing the idea of faith into treatment, diversity among groups regarding religious practices and values have created new ethical dilemma (Fisher, ...view middle of the document...
When treating a religious client, the professional should be aware of Principle B; the psychologist strives to be aware of their own belief systems, values, needs and limitations and the effect of these on their work (APA 1992). In the event that the psychologist is unable to provide effective treatment based on their personal beliefs or insufficient knowledge of the clients belief system, they should immediately refer to another clinician whose expertise is more suited to the client's needs. Inclusion in to a religious group or tradition does not constitute expertise or should be inferred otherwise (Standard 5.01: Avoidance of False or Deceptive Statements)
Many religious clients are uncomfortable with working with professionals who do not share or understand their beliefs (Carpenter, 2003). Carpenter claims this occurs because the overt trait of religiosity is overlooked. In addition he stated that the provision of an effective and therapeutic relationship depends on the therapists ability to refrain from imposing their own beliefs or values on to the client. As such, the clinician should ascertain whether they harbor any religious bias that may damage the efficacy of treatment.( Principle D: Justice and Principle; Principle E: Respect for People's Rights and Dignity; Standards 2.06. Personal Problems and Conflicts, and 3.01. Unfair Discrimination). Information regarding the origin of the clients beliefs is beneficial to treatment. Standard 3.09, cooperation with other professionals, allows the psychiatrist to partner with clergy to gain further understanding of the clients religion, and the avoidance of encroaching on theological domains (Fisher, 2009) . Consequently, the cooperation increases the likelihood that a clients incorrect religious interpretations will be addressed in the right manner within their faith (Standards 2.01b Boundaries of Competence and 2.03, Maintaining Competence). Written permission must be obtained from the client before a conversation transpires between psychologist and clergy and only information that is relevant and provides advantageous assistance to the client can be shared (Standard.3.10 Informed Consent; Standard 4.01 Maintaining Confidentiality). Care should be taken to ensure that there is no overlapping of roles when establishing the best methods of assisting...