Scientific American recently published an article (June 15, 2021) by David Rosmarin PhD, the Director of the Spirituality and Mental Health at McLean Hospital in Boston, in which he concludes that belief in God is associated with better treatment outcomes for acute psychiatric patients.
I strongly believe being connected to and believing in something bigger than you is a critical element in healing body, mind, and spirit, but it’s possible to be spiritual and spiritually healed without believing in God or belonging to a religion.
A religious person believes in a pre-determined God, who is named and comes with a methodology about how to worship that God. A spiritual person turns inward and finds God in all that dwells on the planet and in the cosmos and follows some methodology that allows them to live everyday life in a reverent and sacred manner. Both paths work, and one can lead to the other.
I believe there are many names for God, and that God speaks in many tongues. Our task as spiritual seekers and healers is to find a language that speaks to us. For some of us it is an all-knowing/all-seeing Sage speaking to us from a celestial throne, for others God speaks through animals, ancestors, even rocks have stories to tell, and plants are not deaf or mute. We are all are the face and language of God, and our task is finding a path that allows us to hear that voice, feel and use its power.
It doesn’t matter what you believe in, but it must be something larger than yourself, a loving connection that reminds you that you are not alone, and lovingly supported. That voice inspires hope, and hope is the universal language that lifts the human spirit and propels us forward in the good times and the bad.
I agree with Rosmarin that as mental health professionals we dramatically underutilize our skills. We need to be actively listening to patients tell us their stories about what they believe and want for themselves and then using that framework, find a way to inspire them to make a leap of faith into a world of new possibilities.
Instead of more drugs and brain studies let’s spend more time connecting with patients at this level, that’s what spiritual psychotherapy is about.