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“The possession of knowledge does not kill the sense of wonder and mystery. There is always more mystery.” -Anais Nin.


As a psychotherapist with nearly thirty years of experience, I became gradually more curious about the relationship between spirituality and mental health.  The intersection between mental health and spirituality has gained increasing attention in psychology research in recent years. Some studies have acknowledged spirituality as a contributor to promoting overall well-being and mental health. 

In my personal life, I am continuously learning to navigate grief and loss. I am passionate about exploring the intricate interplay between spirituality, personal growth, resiliency, and mental health. 

In my role as a psychotherapist, I have noticed in the past years that people seeking individual therapy and mental health support seem more open and safer addressing their spiritual practices or querying about the therapist’s comfort level with having conversations in which spirituality is one crucial dimension in their lives. One example of the intersection between mental health and spirituality is that in the early stages of bereavement, people will likely move through a spectrum of experiences, from questioning, rejecting or revisiting their spiritual background to finding refuge and comfort in spiritual practices. I have also found that some of the people seeking trauma therapy go through similar experiences.

Spirituality, broadly understood, encompasses the human’s search for meaning, purpose, and interconnection with something greater than oneself. Spirituality can be defined as a set of beliefs anchored in a sense of purpose and meaning. Most people experience it as what gives them a sense of value or worth in their lives and helps them find the extraordinary in the ordinary.

Contrary to what many people might think, spirituality and religion are not the same. However, for some people, spirituality and religion are linked.

Understanding Spirituality.

Spirituality, unlike religion, is a deeply personal experience. It encompasses diverse beliefs, practices, and experiences, including but not limited to religious affiliations. For many people, spirituality is an attempt to understand the meaning of life, human beings and nature. It can also be one’s internal compass of awareness and connection with a sense of awe and curiosity toward the different manifestations of life.

Most spiritual thinkers, mentors and traditions speak about how our relationship with the present moment largely determines the character of our experience and, therefore, the quality of our lives as we move through the ordinary experiences of life. 

While some individuals find solace and spiritual fulfillment within organized religions, others may find it through nature, meditation, art, acts of service, or personal introspection. Recognizing this diversity is essential in appreciating spirituality’s impact on mental health and emotional well-being.

Recently, I have read an interview with Norman Fisher. During the interview, he shared that suffering is not a mistake. It’s not a problem. It’s not your fault; it’s not the government’s fault. He believes most people may make plenty of mistakes. Still, he adds, the question of suffering is much bigger than that because suffering is pivotal for human life. It’s what gives us the incentive, the vision, and the strength to really take hold of our lives spiritually.

Enhancing Emotional Resilience.

One of the most significant contributions of spirituality to mental health is its potential to enhance emotional resilience. Some studies show that engaging in spiritual practices through meditation, prayer, mindfulness, art, being in nature, or acts of service can cultivate a personal sense of inner peace and provide tools to cope with life’s challenges. 

I have learned that by contemplating how all is interconnected and nurturing a connection with something beyond oneself, such as nature or meaningful relationships, individuals often find solace and strength during difficult times, reducing stress, loneliness, anxiety, and depression.

In difficult times, it’s important to turn toward our human wounds instead of trying to figure out how to get rid of them or mask them with all kinds of positive thinking or things. Psychotherapy can support and motivate us to be more open to learning to turn toward our hurts as much as to lean toward the moments of delight and joy and let them open a path for us. That’s the beginning of discovering the wisdom and strengths in us.

Sense of Meaning and Purpose.

A key element of spiritual well-being is our quest for meaning and purpose and living a life that feels the closest to our values and dreams. For some of the people I meet seeking mental health support or trauma therapy, spirituality helps them transcend their personal struggles by pursuing a larger perspective and understanding their role within the grand tapestry of existence. 

This search for meaning can offer a sense of purpose, direction, and a framework for making choices aligned with one’s core hopes about how one wants to navigate life and relationships. When individuals feel connected to something beyond themselves, such as meaningful relationships, they often experience a more profound sense of fulfillment and life satisfaction.

Connectedness and Social Support.

Spirituality can foster a sense of connectedness with others and the world. Many spiritual traditions emphasize compassion, kindness, and service to others, which can promote social connectedness and a sense of belonging. Especially during difficult times, it’s essential to cultivate a sense of shared humanity and understanding that, like us, all humans experience pains and hurts and search for joy and belonging.

Engaging in spiritual communities or participating in healthy and safe rituals can provide a support network that fosters a sense of connection, reducing feelings of loneliness and isolation. Such social support can be crucial for maintaining mental health and resilience.

A safe and non-imposing social and spiritual relationships with a spiritual community or mentor must integrate a person’s sense of belonging while maintaining a solid sense of individuality, identity and self-worth. Healthy and fulfilling relationships with a spiritual community or a spiritual leader embrace the individual’s capacity to exercise and enforce boundaries without being judged or ostracized. 

Transcending the Self.

Some people seeking individual therapy present with stress and burnout, feeling a sense of separation, self-judgment, or overloaded attachment to material goals and achievements. As they talk about their connection or disconnection with spirituality, they address issues related to developing more vital and healthier ways to transcend oneself and life challenges.

Spiritual practices encourage self-reflection, introspection, and the cultivation of qualities such as gratitude, loving-kindness, forgiveness, and acceptance. It’s worth mentioning that some mindfulness therapy approaches involve self-reflection and shifting the focus from self-centred concerns to a broader understanding of interconnectedness, improving self-value, compassion, kindness, and empathy.

I have heard some clients share that spirituality sometimes provides them with experiences of transcendence, such as moments of awe, beauty, and interconnectedness that surpass the limitations of the self. These experiences can potentially contribute to a greater sense of meaning, humility, and perspective, reducing egocentrism and promoting psychological well-being.

Integrating Spirituality in Therapy.

Many psychotherapists are incorporating their clients’ spiritual aspects into their practice, recognizing the significance of spirituality in mental health. Many individuals who are reaching out for anxiety and depression therapy and support are interested in integrating their spiritual beliefs or hoping to explore their connection with spirituality. 

In my experience as a psychotherapist, creating a safe and non-judgmental space, I support clients in exploring and integrating their spiritual beliefs and experiences. In some cases, incorporating mindfulness techniques, guided meditation exercises or encouraging clients to engage in activities that align with their spiritual values can enhance therapeutic outcomes.

While spirituality can be beneficial, it is crucial to approach it with a robust client-centred attitude in mind. Integrating an individual’s spiritual interests must be approached respectfully, maintaining their autonomy intact and allowing them to explore their spiritual beliefs and practices. As therapists, we must avoid imposing our personal beliefs or assume that spirituality is the answer for everyone.

“When we recognize our place in an immensity of light‐years and in the passage of ages, when we grasp the intricacy, beauty, and subtlety of life, then that soaring feeling, that sense of elation and humility combined, is surely spiritual. So are our emotions in the presence of great art or music or literature, or acts of exemplary selfless courage such as those of Mohandas Gandhi or Martin Luther King, Jr. The notion that science and spirituality are somehow mutually exclusive does a disservice to both.” -Carl Sagan,