Therapy goes with mental health like red beans with chili. But also involving spirituality in that dish would be for some like mixing in strawberry ice cream as well. Each may have its place, but certainly not together! Add a dash of religion? Ugh! That would be like further adding horseradish to the bowl! Who could possible digest it?

That was the judgment of Sigmund Freud, who discounted spirituality and deemed religion to be a neurosis.  His stark dismissal thereafter became the mainstay of psychology for decades. Had he been ignorant of the historical benefit for mental health arising in religion and spirituality? Was he rejecting it in his practice as he had done so in his unhappy personal life?

Other psychiatrists have seen it differently. Carl Jung, first president of the International Psychoanalytic Society, declared that spiritual needs are as real as hunger and must be addressed for recovery. Psychiatrist M. Scott Peck acknowledged himself as an outlier in his bestseller, The Road Less Traveled (1978), subtitled to note his focus therein on “spiritual growth.” Much more recently another psychiatrist, John Turbott, boldly declared “there is a growing acceptance of the importance of religion and spirituality to psychiatry.”

The renaissance of spirituality together with psychological therapy was first evident in Britain, where the Royal College of Psychiatrists now declares: “Spirituality can be an important — sometimes a central part — of someone’s life. It can offer real benefits for mental health. People who use mental health services appreciate it when this part of their lives is taken seriously.” Most psychiatric hospitals in America are following suit.

Each of us is composed of the interacting body, mind and spirit. Freud began professionally as a physician, concerned with the body, and then delved into the mind, while ignoring the spirit. Body and mind and spirit each impact the others. One can assess the mind in terms of intelligence, knowledge, perception and rational or disturbed thought. But aspects of identity, self-esteem, emotion, desire, motivation and communion with others are more a matter of the spirit.

And so we are seeing a rapprochement of three fields, now involving chaplains working in mental health hospitals. If improving the well-being of patients is indeed to be paramount, a holistic approach of therapy involving spirituality right alongside of medicine and psychology makes the difference.

About Austin Oaks Hospital

Austin Oaks Hospital offers a continuum of psychiatric services for children and adolescents, ages 7-17, and for adults, age 18 and older.

We specialize in creating a home-like atmosphere for our patients at our psychiatric facility. Our warm and welcoming environment is great for promoting crisis resolution, developing social skills, positive self-awareness and more. Furthermore, we focus on stabilizing symptoms of anxiety, depression and other disorders.

To schedule a no-cost assessment or for more information, please call 512-440-4800 or contact us online.