The latest

Three out of four psychologists wish graduate programs trained them better to deal with clients' religious and spiritual issues

Three out of four psychologists wish graduate programs trained them better to deal with clients' religious and spiritual issues, according to a study published in the August issue of Psychology of Religion and Spirituality. In addition, 65 percent of respondents — 340 randomly selected members of APA Divs. 12 (Society of Clinical Psychology), 36 (Society for the Psychology of Religion and Spirituality) and 45 (Society for the Psychological Study of Ethnic Minority Issues) — would like to see these topics integrated into graduate training, the study found.

Such training could help psychologists better serve their clients — especially given that a 2011 Gallup poll shows that more than 90 percent of Americans believe in God, says study co-author Rachel Crook-Lyon, PhD, a psychology researcher at Brigham Young University. In comparison, only half of U.S. psychology professors do, according to a 2009 study in Sociology of Religion (PDF, 161KB).

"Historically, religion and psychology have been uneasy bedfellows," Crook-Lyon says. "I think this shows that there is interest and support among psychologists for addressing this issue."

Most respondents thought that religious and spiritual issues could fit into existing multicultural training. "To study multiculturalism without serious examination of religious/spiritual issues would be like asking to study sailing without a study of the wind," one participant wrote. Some, however, worried that this might take attention away from issues such as race, ethnicity and sexual orientation.

—Helen Fields