“Spirituality is not necessarily religiosity.”
An Important Follow-Up
In our previous episode, “Review of Netflix Series Surviving Death – Spirituality in Psychology,” on the Finding My Psych Podcast, we believe that we missed an opportunity. In our excitement, it is clear that we glossed over the impact of spirituality on wellness.
In today’s follow-up, I spend some time discussing my own perspective on spiritual practice and health. I also review three peer-reviewed articles examining the evidence, while leaving the possibility open for no clear relationship between the two.
Welcome to Episode 041: The Spirituality – Psychology Connection
- What We Do:
- Behavioural Medicine and Health Psychology
- Feedback about missed opportunity to expand on the psychology – spirituality connection. Want to have a look at the peer reviewed literature.
My Perspective and Observations
- Personal Experience
- Understand the difference between spirituality vs religion.
- It is important not to deny the behavioural mechanisms at play (operant and classical conditioning).
- Clinical Practice
- Focus is not important (spirituality vs. religiosity).
- Spiritual practice equates to broader support network.
The Peer-Reviewed Literature
- Article 1: The Relationship Between Spirituality, Purpose in Life, and Well-Being in HIV-Positive Persons – Kathleen M.Litwinczuk MSN, APRN, BCCarla J.Groh PhD, APRN, BC – 2007
- Wanted to measure outcomes on purpose vs perceived wellbeing.
- Spirituality was reported to be significantly correlated with purpose in life (r = .295, p = .049) but not with well-being (r = .261, p = .084).
- Article 2: Linking Religion and Spirituality with Psychological Well-being: Examining Self-actualisation, Meaning in Life, and Personal Growth Initiative – Itai Ivtzan, Christine P. L. Chan, Hannah E. Gardner & Kiran Prashar – 2013
- Measured on levels of self-actualisation, meaning in life, and personal growth initiative
- Results confirm the importance of spirituality on psychological well-being, regardless of whether it is experienced through religious participation.
- Article 3: The role of spirituality in the psychological adjustment to cancer: A test of the transactional model of stress and coping – Kimberly K. Laubmeier, Sandra G. Zakowski & John P. Bair – 2004
- Explored the connection between existential and religious wellbeing with emotional wellbeing and quality of life.
- Spirituality was associated with less distress and better quality of life
- findings suggest that spirituality, particularly the existential component, may be associated with reduced symptoms of distress in cancer patients regardless of life threat.
- The above studies:
- Found nothing directly measuring physical outcomes
- Most literature is 10+ years old – Not a current topic alive in the literature.
- All reveal the psychological benefits (e.g., lower stress) and importance of us defining purpose.
- We need each other. Spiritual practice acknowledges our connection.
- Even if there is nothing after this life, what we leave behind is just as powerful.