HealthForumOnline Updates Online Continuing Education (CE) Course on Integrating Spirituality into Patient Care: The Role of the Mental Health Professional

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HealthForumOnline (HFO) has updated their online continuing education (CE) course, Integrating Spirituality into the Care of Psychological and Medical Illness: The Role of the Mental Health Professional, from their extensive library of over 105 online CE courses in behavioral health. This online CE course for psychologists, social workers, counselors, and allied health professionals provides information to facilitate integrating patient's spiritual and/or religious beliefs into holistic healthcare.

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Current zeitgeist reflects a collaborative and creative dialogue between psychiatry and religion to promote healing

HealthForumOnline (HFO), a nationally-approved (APA, ASWB, NBCC, NYSED) provider of online continuing education (CE) for mental health professionals is pleased to announce recent updates to its CE course entitled, Integrating Spirituality into the Care of Psychological and Medical Illness: The Role of the Mental Health Professional, from its extensive library of online CE courses for psychologists, social workers, counselors, and other allied healthcare professionals.

Although the religious landscape in the U.S. is shifting, the data suggest religion and spirituality remain prevalent and important aspects of American life (1). Over their long histories, religion and the sciences have had a complicated, sometimes antagonistic, relationship influenced by intricate and evolving belief systems (e.g., 2). There has been a relative scarcity of empirical attention in this arena stemming from what has come to be seen as a basic and long-standing “disconnection” between the scientific and spiritual communities – from Galileo onward.

The therapeutic role of religion and/or spirituality on psychological and physical health has become a growing focus of clinical research and practice; perhaps fueled by a need for culturally sensitive, patient-based care (e.g., 3-4). Current zeitgeist reflects a collaborative and creative dialogue between psychiatry and religion to promote healing (e.g., 5). There may be no more crystalized example of this than recent code changes in the DSM-5 (6-7). The compilation of the DSM-5 was a stimulus for reflection over the impact of religious/spiritual factors on phenomenology, differential diagnosis, course, outcome and prognosis of mental disorders. Introducing V-code 62.89 ("Religious or spiritual problem") into the DSM-5 increased the possibility of differential diagnosis between religion/spirituality and health/psychopathology. By placing religion and spirituality mainly in the category of culture, the DSM-5 established a solution to the age-old debate concerning the significance of religion/spirituality in clinical practice. In comparison to its predecessors, the DSM-5’s emphasis on cultural diversity has enabled non-reductive and non-pathologizing insight regarding religion and spirituality. Rather than pathologizing the religious patient, spirituality and religion are viewed as vital aspects of an individual and as potentially adaptive coping mechanisms, especially in the face of a threat to one’s mental, as well as physical, health (8).

To promote this approach to care, this online course provides mental health providers with the information necessary to integrate theory- and evidence-based data with practical clinical skills to treat their patients in a more holistic manner – attending to their spiritual and/or religious beliefs. Working definitions are provided and the ethical obligation to address these aspects in the treatment of psychologically- and medically-ill patients is discussed. Finally, an approach in which therapists can learn to sensitively support and affirm the health-promoting aspects of spirituality and/or religion in each patient’s life will be demonstrated. Topics include the search for "meaning" in illness, acceptance vs. resignation with regard to one’s illness, and grace in coping across the disease continuum.

Psychologists, social workers, counselors, and other allied health professionals can chose from HFO’s 20 plus categories of continuing education (CE) topics related to health psychology and behavioral medicine containing over 105 online CE courses that are fast, convenient and cost-effective including many other course in our Spirituality Section

1.    Gallup, 2016.
2.    Chandler, E. (2012). Religious and spiritual issues in DSM-5: matters of the mind and searching of the soul. Issues in Mental Health Nursing, 33(9), 577-582. doi: 10.3109/01612840.2012.704130.
3.    Shah, A.K., Becicka, R., Talen, M.R., Edberg, D., & Namboodiri, S. (2017). Integrative Medicine and Mood, Emotions and Mental Health. Primary Care, 44(2), 281-304.
4.    Hosseini, S., Chaurasia, A., & Oremus, M. (2017). The Effect of Religion and Spirituality on Cognitive Function: A Systematic Review. Gerontologist. [Epub ahead of print]. doi: 10.1093/geront/gnx024.
5.    Jakovljević, M. (2017). Psychiatry and Religion: Opponents or Collaborators? The Power of Spirituality in Contemporary Psychiatry. Psychiatr Danub, 29(Suppl 1), 82-88.
6.    American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders: DSM-5. Washington, D.C: American Psychiatric Association.
7.    Prusak, J. (2016). Differential diagnosis of "Religious or Spiritual Problem" - possibilities and limitations implied by the V-code 62.89 in DSM-5. Psychiatric Policy, 50(1), 175-186.
8.    Bhar, G.C. (2014). The Scientific Basis of Habit: Spirituality in the Light of Neuroplasticity. Vedanta Kesari, 101, 229–234.

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Michelle Rodoletz, Ph.D.
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