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Whole-person care for your patient includes caring for their mind, emotions, and body. It also includes caring for their spirit.

Spirituality is “the way individuals seek ultimate meaning, purpose, connection,  value or transcendence,” according to the International Consensus Conference on Spiritual Care in Health Care. This could include organized religion, but extends to various forms of spirituality, such as nature, community, family, meditation or yoga.

Research shows that a sense of ultimate meaning and purpose in life decreases psychological stress.

Meaning and purpose is also a must for our youth, who are suffering intensely from a lack of social and spiritual connection, and facing increased rates of mental illness and suicide. In 2021, for example, 42 percent of students felt persistently sad or hopeless; 29 percent experienced poor mental health; 22 percent seriously considered attempting suicide; and 10 percent attempted suicide—all signs of mental distress.

This important link between spirituality and health is science-proven by hundreds of studies. Researchers at Harvard Medical School analyzed nearly 600 scientific articles on spirituality in serious illness and health, publishing their results in the July 12, 2022 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. They found that participating in spirituality is linked to healthier lives, less depression and suicide, and less substance abuse.

“Our findings indicate that attention to spirituality in serious illness and in health should be a vital part of future whole person-centered care,” said Tracy Balboni, MD, lead author of the study.

But how do you address spirituality in health care? How do you support a patient in their spiritual awakening? How do you help facilitate a “spiritually-transformative experience” (STE) with a patient, such as many individuals experience when taking psychedelics therapeutically?

I’ve recently discovered an excellent way to learn more about spirituality in patient care: three-day practicums offered by Emma Bragdon, PhD, the Founder and Executive Director of the Integrative Mental Health University. When it comes to spirituality and health, Dr. Bragdon knows whereof she speaks—she’s been involved in this area for more than 50 years, and has authored 7 books, including A Sourcebook for Helping People with Spiritual Problems, and The Call of Spiritual Emergency.

These practicums with Dr. Bragdon are live skill-building workshops designed to give you the confidence and competence to support patients and their spiritually transformative experiences. Her five-webinar online series on “How to Effectively  Support Someone in Spiritual Emergency” is a prerequisite course and available at your convenience.

“We are filling the gap,” says Dr. Bragdon. “Training for this kind of support service has not been available in the conventional training of MDs, psychologists, psychotherapists, pastoral counselors, and coaches. Yet, more people are in search of these services as they are having spiritually transformative experiences. Peer specialists and those “sitters” assisting with psychedelic-assisted therapies are very welcome to join, as the skills learned are appropriate for anyone working with extraordinary states of consciousness.”

In 2024, the live practicum courses are being held all across the globe:

  • March 1-3, in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA
  • April 26-28, near Boston, Massachusetts, USA
  • September 20-22, in London, UK

You can read more and sign up for these courses here.

Spiritual care and whole-person health care go hand in hand. I strongly urge you to check out this opportunity.

Ready to enhance patient treatment and outcomes with spiritual care strategies?

Explore Dr. Bragdon's Spiritual Practicums