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BY-NC-ND 3.0 license Open Access Published by De Gruyter Open Access July 29, 2016

Calling for Awareness and Knowledge: Perspectives on Religiosity, Spirituality and Mental Health in a Religious Sample from Portugal (a Mixed-Methods Study)

  • Jaclin’ Freire , Carla Moleiro and David H. Rosmarin
From the journal Open Theology


Recent studies have demonstrated that when suffering or in psychological distress, religious clients tend to recover faster and with better outcomes when mental health professionals (MHPs) seek to integrate their clients’ religious beliefs and practices in psychotherapy. As described in the literature and highly-recommended by the American Psychological Association (APA) guidelines, promotion of an accurate and sensitive integration of a client’s religious and spiritual beliefs is implied among MHPs: the awareness of the particularities, the differences and barriers that religious clients might encounter when seeking help; the knowledge and respect of those specific characteristics and needs; and the development of specific competencies. A mixed-methods approach was used to conduct this study, with the aim of understanding the role which religiosity and spirituality play in mental health and the psychotherapeutic processes of religious members and clients in Portugal. Eight focus groups and three in-depth interviews were conducted, with a total of 41 participants. Participants stated their religiosity as vital aspects in their life and reported religious/spiritual practices as their primary coping strategies. They recognised that their religiosity should not be concealed or marginalised in the context of their psychological and/or psychiatric treatment, but revealed apprehensions, dilemmas and barriers prior to disclosure. MHPs and services were seen as a possible source of help, but often as a last resort. Participants who sought professional help overall seemed to be satisfied with the service provided to them, although such treatment was mostly related to symptoms relief. Also, many concerns were shared, among them were both their wish for a religious match/ similarity with their MHP, and the perception of a lack of sensibility by their MHP towards religious and spiritual issues. Conclusions and implications for research are provided.


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Received: 2015-12-15
Accepted: 2016-2-10
Published Online: 2016-7-29

©2016 Jaclin’ Freire et al.

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 3.0 License.

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