Psychology and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice

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Volume 78 Issue 3 (September 2005), Pages 275-417

A question of finding harmony: A grounded theory study of clinical psychologists' experience of addressing spiritual beliefs in therapy (pages 295-313)

In spite of the increasing emphasis upon spirituality in the psychological literature, research continues to highlight concerns that issues relating to spirituality are regularly overlooked within a therapeutic setting. The aim of the current study was to develop an account of the way in which clinical psychologists understand and address spirituality within therapy. Semi‐structured interviews were conducted with eight clinical psychologists. The transcripts were analysed using the qualitative methodology of grounded theory, which also informed the data collection process. Two core categories were developed and termed spirituality as an elusive concept and finding harmony with spiritual beliefs. The diversity of meaning surrounding spirituality and the relative lack of engagement was found to create difficulty for constructing spirituality coherently as a concept. When specifically considering methods for identifying and addressing spiritual beliefs, contrasting approaches were identified. This diversity in understanding and approach has implications for the process and outcome of therapy, which are discussed in detail. Recommendations are suggested for developing spirituality as a more coherent and accessible concept, both within professional dialogue and the therapeutic context.

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