Therapeutic Role of Spirituality in Psychotherapy


  • James L. Griffith The George Washington University



Spirituality, religion, psychotherapy, Therapeutic Alliance, Spiritual Resources, resilience


Should the secular psychotherapist be prepared to explore a client's spiritual life? Psychotherapists since Freud have traditionally been suspicious of spirituality and religion as at once unscientific and psychologically harmful. More recently, spirituality has come to be viewed more positively as an often necessary component of psychotherapy. Acknowledgement of the spiritual facilitates a therapeutic alliance, builds resilience through spiritual resources and mobilizes relational support from spiritual communities. Psychotherapists need to learn how to listen and question in such a way that clients 'can comfortably reveal their spiritual lives. Such conversations draw both therapist and client into a dialogue between persons, which has the potential to 're-humanize the professional.'

Author Biography

  • James L. Griffith, The George Washington University

    James L. Griffith is Professor of Psychiatry and Neurology, Director, Psychiatry Residency Program, The George Washington University School of Medicine Washington DC, USA.


GRIFFITH J.L., GABY L. (In press, 2005) Brief psychotherapy at the bedside: Countering demoralization from medical illness. Psychosomatics.

GRIFFITH J.L., GRIFFITH, M.E. 2002. Encountering the Sacred in Psychotherapy: How to Talk with People about their Spiritual Lives, Guilford Press, New York.

JUNG C.G. 1963 Memories, Dreams, Reflections. Vintage Books, New York.

KAHLE, P.A. 1977 The Influence of the Person of the Therapist on the Integration of Spirituality and Psychotherapy. Doctoral dissertation, Texas Woman’s University College of Arts and Sciences, Denton, Texas.

LU F.G., PUCHALSKI C.M., GRIFFITH J.L. (2004) Spiritual and religious assessment in clinical practice. Presented at the 157th Annual Meeting of the American Psychiatric Association, New York, NY, May 1 – 6, 2004.



How to Cite

Griffith, J. (2013). Therapeutic Role of Spirituality in Psychotherapy. Health and Social Care Chaplaincy, 8(1), 2-6.