Towards Religious/Spiritual Competence for Applied Psychologists in NHS Settings in the UK

Prof Doc Thesis

Koce, Precious 2013. Towards Religious/Spiritual Competence for Applied Psychologists in NHS Settings in the UK. Prof Doc Thesis University of East London School of Psychology
AuthorsKoce, Precious
TypeProf Doc Thesis

The profession of psychology in the UK is gradually showing signs of renewed interest in the area of religion/spirituality (e.g., Collicut, 2011). The present study aimed to (i) explore applied psychologists‟ accounts of their practice in the NHS, UK, with clients with religious/spiritual issues; and (ii) from these accounts identify participants‟ indications of religious/spiritual competencies. Thematic analysis as outlined by Braun and Clarke (2006) was employed and subscribed to a critical realist position. Data was gathered through conducting semi-structured interviews with eight participants employed in the NHS. Following analysis, six super-ordinate themes were presented: [1] broad characteristics attributed to religion/spirituality, [2] personal attributes, [3] knowledge, [4] practice elements, [5] challenges faced when working with and acknowledging the role of religion/spirituality for clients, and [6] developing practice and raising visibility – training and practice.

These themes captured the diverse nature of participants‟ encounters with issues of religion/spirituality in their clinical work. The complex and diverse roles of religion/spirituality were seen across accounts. Three of the six themes - „personal attributes‟, „knowledge‟ and „practice elements‟ - were instrumental in indicating how participants work with clients‟ religious/spiritual issues. It appears that in the absence of appropriate training and professional guidance, participants needed to draw on their own personal experience, professional interests and knowledge in order to engage with and meet the needs of clients for whom religion/spirituality is important.

The following broad areas were suggested as participants‟ indications of religious/spiritual competencies: [1] Recognising the „broad characteristics attributed to religion/spirituality‟; [2] Possessing certain „personal attributes‟; [3] Having „knowledge‟; and [4] Engaging in certain „practices‟. However, further research and substantial refinement is needed before these areas of competencies can be considered viable. Methodological limitations are considered and further research and professional implications are highlighted.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Publication dates
PrintJul 2013
Publication process dates
Deposited23 Feb 2015
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