In spite of demonstrated links between religion and spirituality (RS) and mental health, RS issues are rarely addressed in mental health assessment and treatment. This glaring deficiency may be largely due to the lack of training in this area within most of the major mental health professions. The purpose of this pioneering project is to catalyze systematic and effective training of mental health professionals in a set of commonly agreed upon RS competencies. Toward this end, we intend to 1) assess the need for training and willingness to engage in such training among currently practicing mental health professionals through a nationwide survey; 2) assess the preferences of clients/consumers for spiritually integrated mental health care and their perspectives on and desires regarding the spiritual attitudes, knowledge, and skills of their mental health providers through another nationwide survey, and; 3) develop an online curriculum to train mental health professionals in basic RS competencies, and develop and validate tools to assess whether this training results in increased competence and confidence in these domains. The results of this project will inform and encourage the development and refinement of interdisciplinary RS competencies, methods to assess provider RS competencies, and strategies for providing systematic and effective training in RS competencies for mental health professionals at large. Ultimately, we hope to improve the overall effectiveness of mental health care, ease suffering, and promote emotional well-being among the populous by developing a set of agreed upon competencies that both mental health clients and professionals endorse, increasing the level and effectiveness of training in RS competencies in the mental health professions.

Citation: John Templeton Foundation