Spirituality and Its Contribution to Mental Health

A neglected construct in an age of anxiety, depression, and addiction.

has become a topic of much interest in recent times in the scientific community. This includes the convergence of advances related to the role of spirituality in groups, health psychology, , and consciousness research.

Spirituality has traditionally been considered an elusive concept that is difficult to investigate. Hence, its role in psychological well-being has been seen as largely absent.

More recently, however, spirituality has been rightfully placed in contemporary psychology. This includes metatheoretical propositions that explain it as a legitimate psychological construct, which differs.

For example, recent contributions in schema therapy, an increasingly popular model embraced by clinicians for working with people with multiple disorders, explain spirituality as “a natural or spirituality that is not necessarily channeled through institutional religion, and which provides a sense of strength and direction in the face of loss and adversity” (Edwards, 2022, p. 5).

Recent contributions to psychiatry assert that “state-of-the-art clinical psychiatry seeks to provide successful treatment of persons with mental illness in a comprehensive approach integrating … social, and spiritual aspects” (Huber & Schneeberger, 2020, p. 1).

Given the progress and convergences outlined thus far, it’s not at all surprising that have become major drivers of recent scientific inquiry.

Contemporary consciousness research provides emerging proof-of-concept evidence of spirituality by asserting that: (1) the mind is separate from the brain; (2) spirit and soul are comparable to energy and information that exist in the vacuum of space; (3) individuals can receive intuitive information that is accurate and useful in their individual and collective lives; and (4) physical and psychological health can be fostered by active loving spiritual processes.

From a personal perspective and professional capacity, I dare to say (without exaggeration) that spiritual practices could save anyone years of suffering and/or psychotherapy.

Not surprisingly, in recent times, multiple authors/spiritual teachers – some of whom have become international bestsellers (e.g., Tolle, Singer) – have been disseminating the message of spirituality.

The causal agent, the thinker or observer who does the thinking or observing, is also responsible for self-awareness and self-knowledge. The “Me” (the known self) relates to the self as the object of the experience or (self as object). This distinction in self-referential awareness has re-emerged recently in neurocognitive science, particularly in experimental studies investigating the phenomenological self and consciousness.

Elkins, D. N. (2005). A humanistic approach to spiritually oriented psychotherapy. In L. Sperry & E. P. Shafranske (Eds.), Spiritually oriented psychotherapy (pp. 131–151). American Psychological Association. https://doi.org/10.1037/10886-006

Jung, C. G. (1928). The spiritual problem of modern man. Collected Works, 10, 74-94.

Miller, L. J. (Ed.). (2013). The Oxford handbook of psychology and spirituality. Oxford University Press.

Schwartz, G. E. (2012). Consciousness, spirituality, and postmaterialist science: An empirical and experiential approach. In L. J. Miller (Ed.), The Oxford handbook of psychology and spirituality (pp. 584–597). Oxford University Press.

Singer, M. (2007). The untethered soul: The journey beyond yourself. New Harbinger Publications.

Tolle, E. (2006). A new earth: Awakening to your life’s purpose. Penguin Life.

Walach, H., Schmidt, S., & Jonas, W. B. (Eds.). (2011). Neuroscience, consciousness and spirituality (Vol. 1). Springer Science & Business Media. https://www.springer.com/series/10195

The question is not whether you’ll change; you will. Research clearly shows that everyone’s personality traits shift over the years, often for the better. But who we end up becoming and how much we like that person are more in our control than we tend to think they are.