Feature

During a recent psychotherapy seminar at Columbia University, psychologist Lisa Miller, PhD, watched an Orthodox Jewish student listen to a Baptist neuroscientist explain how prayer increases focus and decreases stress. The student had an "aha" moment, saying the research helped explain why she felt less clearheaded in the United States than in Israel, where prayer was a bigger part of her life.

To Miller, who directs the clinical psychology program at Teachers College, Columbia University, that interaction represents "a burgeoning practice and cultural movement" interested in spirituality and mental health. "[People who] have spiritually and religiously focused concerns who come in for treatment are expecting that their psychotherapist is going to be able to address these concerns," she says. "We have an extraordinary opportunity as scientists and therapists to really help people by knowing them better."

Through APA's new journal Spirituality in Clinical Practice, Miller and co-editor Len Sperry, PhD, a psychology professor at Florida Atlantic University, are doing just that. The journal, which will publish quarterly beginning in March, aims to inform practitioners by publishing clinical research and standards of practice on spiritually oriented interventions, such as mindfulness, forgiveness and cognitive behavioral therapy tailored to clients' spiritual and religious beliefs.

Miller and Sperry — who both also serve on the editorial board of APA's Psychology of Religion and Spirituality journal — are recruiting contributions from a broad range of fields, including military mental health, integrative medicine and other healing professions. They are particularly interested in publishing neuroscience research as it relates to spirituality. For example, how does mindfulness change brain circuitry — and how can that knowledge be used for prevention?

"We envision this to be a cutting-edge journal," Sperry says. "It's going to be a journal that has professional respect and one we think will have broad generalizability."

In addition to research, the journal — which Miller and Sperry see more as a "roundtable" than a traditional publication — will feature case reports and reflections from therapists who are integrating spirituality into their practices. The format will foster conversation among clinicians, spawn new hypotheses among researchers and eventually lead to evidence-based interventions, the editors say. "It's those new ideas, that germ of an insight, that form into a powerful new approach," Miller says.

To submit a manuscript, go to SCP website.