Spirituality & religion

No matter how we experience or practice it, spirituality can be an important source of joy and solace in all our lives. Spirituality can connect us with other people, help us tackle life’s big questions, and guide us through troubled times. While some people explore their spirituality through organized religion, some find spirituality in other areas of life—whether through art, nature, or simply quiet contemplation.

However, spirituality (or lack of spirituality) can also be a source of worry or stress. For example, you might worry about living up to the ideals of your religion. Or you might feel uncertain of your spiritual beliefs and how they fit into your day-to-day life. At times, these worries can even lead to symptoms of common mental health conditions like anxiety and depression.

If you’re facing questions or concerns related to spirituality, it may be helpful to seek support from a therapist who specializes in issues around spirituality.

How does mental health relate to spirituality?

There is lots of research showing that spirituality is an important factor in the lives of many Americans today. For instance, a large survey from the Pew Research Center found that 20% of Americans named spirituality and faith as factors that bring meaning to their lives.

However, it’s much harder to tell how exactly spirituality and faith relate to one another. As some reviews of the research point out, having religious or spiritual beliefs can help people cope better with life’s challenges.

At the same time, certain beliefs can also make mental health challenges worse. For example, a religious person who believes God is punishing them might have a harder time bouncing back from a negative experience.

What’s clear is that the relationship between spirituality and mental health can be complex. Accordingly, it has become more common for therapists to address clients’ spiritual beliefs as part of therapy. Some forms of therapy (such as transpersonal therapy) even focus on spirituality as the core of treatment.

Issues around spirituality can look very different for different people. However, these common mental health challenges (among others) may be related to spiritual concerns:

Common issues relating to spirituality

Concerns around spirituality can take countless forms, but here are a few common scenarios:

If you’re dealing with any of the issues described here, you have a number of options:

A number of different kinds of psychotherapy may be helpful for concern around spirituality. In particular, the following varieties of psychotherapy are specifically structured to incorporate spirituality into treatment:

You’ll want to make sure that your therapist is qualified to treat issues related to spirituality, as well as any specific related mental health problems you may be experiencing. This will usually involve:

Finally, as with any therapy, it’s important to make sure that your therapist is a good fit for your unique needs. Be sure to evaluate the following in your initial calls with therapists: