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From The CriticsReviewer: Patricia E. Murphy, PhD (Rush University Medical Center)
Description: This book offers a readable summary of the most current approaches and research related to the role religion plays for psychiatric patients. The chapter authors, in general, are the experts in their fields.
Purpose: The editors hope to help clinicians be better able to integrate religion/spirituality in their work with psychiatric patients. At times this takes the form of assessment with referral to those more versed in religion/spirituality, but the book also includes suggestions of direct interventions with religious patients.
Audience: The target audience is clinicians at various levels who have limited information about the background and research in the area of both benefits and problems with religion/spirituality in patients with psychiatric disorders. With care, it could be used as a tool for training clinicians. The authors are among the best in a somewhat limited field. Although I looked immediately for tables and charts and found few, I was satisfied to know that the authors have done research and provided references to their work as well as that of others.
Features: The book is comprehensive in providing theory, including biopsychological components of religion/spirituality, as well as a potential hypothesis that spirituality is a dimension of personality. The view is balanced between benefits and problems of religion/spirituality for patients. The authors' approach is sensitive when distinguishing between culture and delusion as well as the purpose a delusion might serve for patients. The book includes references to international work. My only disappointment is in the attempt to provide beliefs of particular religions. I understand the purpose, but this always leads to a one-sided view of theology, not necessarily developed by those best trained in the field. This is a reminder of the role for those professionally trained as chaplains or pastoral counselors who have an appreciation of theology/spirituality and its different dimensions.
Assessment: The number of people who will pick up a book with a title like this might be limited. Those who do will be greatly enriched and will be pointed to a trail of more research that goes deeper into the topic.