Proposed RS Competencies for Mental Health Professionals: Attitudes, Knowledge, & Skills

  1. Mental health professionals demonstrate empathy, respect, and appreciation for clients from diverse spiritual, religious or secular backgrounds and affiliations.
  2. Mental health professionals view spirituality and religion as important aspects of human diversity, along with factors such as race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, disability, gender, and age.
  3. Mental health professionals are aware of how their own spiritual and/or religious background and beliefs may influence their clinical practice, and their attitudes, perceptions, and assumptions about the nature of psychological processes.
  4. Mental health professionals know that many diverse forms of spirituality and/or religion exist, and explore spiritual and/or religious beliefs, communities, and practices that are important to their clients.
  5. Mental health professionals can describe how spirituality and religion can be viewed as overlapping, yet distinct, constructs.
  6. Mental health professionals understand that clients may have experiences that are consistent with their spirituality or religion, yet may be difficult to differentiate from psychopathological symptoms.
  7. Mental health professionals recognize that spiritual and/or religious beliefs, practices, and experiences develop and change over the lifespan.
  8. Mental health professionals are aware of internal and external spiritual and/or religious resources and practices that research indicates may support psychological well-being, and recovery from psychological disorders.
  9. Mental health professionals can identify spiritual and religious experiences, practice, and beliefs that may have the potential to negatively impact psychological health.
  10. Mental health professionals can identify legal and ethical issues related to spirituality and/or religion that may surface when working with clients.
  11. Mental health professionals are able to conduct empathic and effective psychotherapy with clients from diverse spiritual and/or religious backgrounds, affiliations, and levels of involvement.
  12. Mental health professionals inquire about spiritual and/or religious background, experience, practices, attitudes and beliefs as a standard part of understanding a client’s history.
  13. Mental health professionals help clients explore and access their spiritual and/or religious strengths and resources.
  14. Mental health professionals can identify and address spiritual and/or religious problems in clinical practice, and make referrals when necessary.
  15. Mental health professionals stay abreast of research and professional developments regarding spirituality and religion specifically related to clinical practice, and engage in ongoing assessment of their own spiritual and religious competency.
  16. Mental health professionals recognize the limits of their qualifications and competence in their spiritual and/or religious domains, including their responses to clients spirituality and/or religion that may interfere with clinical practice, so that they a)seek consultation from and collaborate with other qualified clinicians or spiritual/religious sources (e.g. priests, pastors, rabbis, imam, spiritual teachers, etc), b) seek further training and education, and/or, c) refer clients to more qualified individuals and resources.