Spirituality in Clinical Practice: Theory and Practice of Spiritually Oriented Psychotherapy

Spirituality in Clinical Practice: Theory and Practice of Spiritually Oriented Psychotherapy

by Len Sperry

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Psychotherapists are increasingly expected to incorporate the spiritual as well as the psychological dimension in their professional work. Therapists also are increasingly required to utilize evidence-based practices and demonstrate the effectiveness of their practice. An ever-increasing number of spiritually-oriented psychotherapy books attest to its importance

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Psychotherapists are increasingly expected to incorporate the spiritual as well as the psychological dimension in their professional work. Therapists also are increasingly required to utilize evidence-based practices and demonstrate the effectiveness of their practice. An ever-increasing number of spiritually-oriented psychotherapy books attest to its importance but, unlike these books that primarily focus on the therapist's spiritual awareness, the second edition of Spirituality in Clinical Practice addresses the actual practice of spiritually oriented psychotherapy from the beginning to end.

Dr. Len Sperry, master therapist and researcher, emphasizes the therapeutic processes in spiritually oriented psychotherapy with individual chapters on:

  • the therapeutic relationship
  • assessment and case conceptualization
  • intervention
  • evaluation and termination
  • and culturally and ethically sensitive interventions.

The days of training therapists to be spiritually aware and sensitive to client needs are over; therapists are now expected to practice spiritually sensitive psychotherapy in a competent manner from the first session to termination. Dr. Sperry organizes his text around this central focus point and, as in the original edition, continues to provide a concise, theory-based framework for understanding the spiritual dimension. Readers can use this framework as the basis for competently integrating spirituality in an effective, evidence-based psychotherapy practice.

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Editorial Reviews

Reviewer:Patricia E. Murphy, PhD(Rush University Medical Center)
Description:This book provides a broad approach to spirituality from several perspectives. The author includes comprehensive though brief suggestions for the application of spirituality in a variety of counseling situations.
Purpose:The purpose is to provide a book for training clinicians to incorporate spirituality into their practice. By combining a theoretical background to spirituality and approaches to both clinical assessment and treatment that incorporate spirituality, the author hopes to educate those who will meet the increasing interest in and need for spirituality evidenced in our society.
Audience:The author hopes to meet the needs of professional psychotherapists as well as of those who provide different types of spiritual counseling or guidance.
Features:One of the unique aspects is a presentation of a variety of theories of spiritual growth. Another helpful feature are the vignettes from six well-known authors in the field of psychotherapy and religion to fill out the theoretical background.
Assessment:Trained professionals would probably be dissatisfied with several aspects of this book. The attempt at breadth leaves out much depth. In the section on spiritual crises, the author seems to accept as fact phenomenon such as possession. Such uncritical assumptions might be unpalatable to many in the field of psychology and psychiatry. It is difficult to tell if the section on spirituality and personality disorders is based on the author's experience or on solid research. Although the undergraduate or master's level student might not question some of the material, I would hesitate to educate future clinicians with less than the best. A book like Shafranske's Religion and the Clinical Practice of Psychology (American Psychological Association, 1996) along with its bibliographies might be a more satisfying starting place for those interested in the topic.
From the Publisher
“This revised edition of Spirituality in Clinical Practice supersedes any current book in the field and sets a new and higher standard for all those that follow. It represents the first day of a truly integrated spiritual psychology... I have no doubt that it will be of immense value to both trainees and experienced clinicians.” - Lisa Miller, From the Foreword

"Len Sperry has written a second edition of Spirituality in Clinical Practice. But this is a new book, not a touched-up version of ideas that are now long in the tooth. Sperry’s perceptions are as acute as ever. His mind is laser-accurate and his thinking is current. He provides new insights for the clinician in a world that is becoming increasingly spiritually oriented. I particularly liked the second part of the revised edition, which is not something we’ve seen before – a current, theoretically driven view of the entire psychotherapy process. But, even the heavily revised and updated first part of the book is worth the read if you are mining for a current and relevant understanding of how to understand and treat clients who are spiritually oriented.” - Everett L. Worthington, Jr., Virginia Commonwealth University, USA

"This outstanding book integrates insights from multiple sources (theoretical, empirical, clinical, spiritual) and breaks new ground in illuminating how the spiritual dimensions of human existence are intertwined with psychological and interpersonal dynamics. Dr. Sperry’s clinical experience and wisdom, so generously shared in this book, will help mental health professionals of diverse backgrounds and therapeutic orientations integrate spirituality more competently into their everyday practices.” - P. Scott Richards, Brigham Young University, USA

“Dr. Sperry brings medical, psychological, and spiritual wisdom together in this volume, making it indispensable. It has an abundance of information and skills for therapists who strive for competency in today's world.” - Richard H. Cox, Duke University Medical School, and in private practice, North Carolina, USA

“With his focus on spiritual development, the therapeutic relationship, assessment, and interventions, Sperry takes the most numinous of concepts, spirituality, and clearly articulates how clinicians can competently and ethically integrate spirituality into the therapeutic process. This applied text is brilliantly written and valuable for both the novice and seasoned therapist.” - Craig Cashwell, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, USA

“This thoroughly updated edition of Sperry’s classic Spirituality in Clinical Practice is well- grounded in current theory and research on both spirituality and therapy. Sperry provides practical guidance in not simply incorporating but actually integrating spirituality into assessment and treatment. Special attention is given to critical topics, including assessment and termination, as well as cultural and ethical issues. This book will be of use for clinicians in training as well as experienced clinicians seeking to deepen their integration of spiritual issues in their practice.” - Crystal L. Park, University of Connecticut, USA

“This second edition updates theoretical concepts about the many dimensions of spirituality and then provides practical ways to integrate spirituality into everyday clinical practice. This book will help clinicians of all disciplines put spirituality on their radar screens in their clinical work with others.” - Francis G. Lu, UC Davis, USA

“Len Sperry has written a text to move mental health practitioners beyond awareness of spirituality to completely integrating the spiritual dimension in everyday clinical practice. The second edition of Spirituality in Clinical Practice infuses spiritually-oriented psychotherapy in all aspects of the therapeutic practice, including relationship building, case conceptualization and termination. This book is a valuable resource to students and practicing clinicians who wish to become more familiar with the clinical aspects of the spiritual dimension.” - Joshua M. Gold, PhD, NCC, University of South Carolina, USA

“With this new edition, Dr. Sperry has made a quality book even better. He has significantly revised and updated the text, and his coverage of key issues regarding spirituality in clinical practice is both astute and accessible. Spirituality in Clinical Practice: Theory and Practice of Spiritually Oriented Psychotherapy is a valuable contribution to the literature and I highly recommend it.” - Richard E. Watts, Sam Houston State University, USA

Spirituality in Clinical Practice provides an up-to-date, accessible, and practical guide to address the spiritual dimension in psychotherapy. Beginning with a cogent discussion of spirituality within a developmental context, Sperry then considers the ways in which spiritual issues present in treatment. His discussion of the therapeutic relationship, assessment, case conceptualization, and interventions incorporates multiple perspectives and provides useful tools for clinical practice. Unique to this text is an overview of the impacts of personality on spirituality, God image and the nature of prayer. The author’s expertise in psychiatry, psychology, and spirituality is illustrated throughout this thought- provoking and clinically relevant book.” - Edward Shafranske, Pepperdine University, USA

"In this book Dr. Len Sperry tackles pertinent questions and issues in order to help therapists and other mental health professionals address the spiritual aspects of their clients’ lives, such as how spirituality differs from religion, how to handle transference and countertransference, and what defines good termination practices in spiritually oriented psychotherapy. Extended case examples and up-to-date research and literature bring the text alive and ensure its usefulness to professionals in this field." - Harold G. Koenig, Duke University, North Carolina, USA

“This is a must-read text for professionals at all levels. It provides an excellent synthesis and integration of the theories underlying psychological applications of spirituality and provides a detailed, ‘how to’ guide for integrating spirituality into all aspects of treatment. Comprehensive, rich in examples, and well written, it should become a standard text for training and practice in the field.” - Ralph L. Piedmont, Loyola University, Maryland, USA

“Dr. Len Sperry's second edition of Spirituality in Clinical Practice provides a thoughtful, engaging, and compelling discussion of both the theory and application of spiritually integrated psychotherapy and counseling. In the ten years since the first edition of this classic text was published much has changed in the field and Dr. Sperry has well articulated these new developments in this fast growing area of research and clinical practice. Psychologists, counselors, spiritual directors, and anyone interested in spiritually informed clinical practice should have this book and will find this important second edition of tremendous value. I know I will!” - Thomas G. Plante, Santa Clara University, USA

"It is hard to praise it too highly. For anyone interested in this area of work (and I think everyone should be) it is a fine resource. This is a well done book." - John Rowan in ACP North London Magazine, February 2012

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