Spirit & Soul is an element of Self-Care in the Circle of Health that can mean many things to many different people.  When all is said and done, the focus is on what brings meaning and purpose into a person’s life.  When an Integrative Health plan is being created, the focus may be on a person’s religious beliefs, their spiritual perspectives (which may or may not be linked to religion) or to other aspects of their lives that tie into “what life is all about.”  This overview builds on Chapter 11 of the Passport to Whole Health (13MB PDF), focusing on how Spirit & Soul can best be discussed in the case of a specific person.

Key Points

  • Always take time to frame care in terms of what really matters to someone.  Develop a sense of what gives someone’s life meaning and purpose, and let that guide personal health planning.
  • Most patients want to talk about their spiritual and religious beliefs with their clinicians, but they do not if they feel their clinicians will not know what to do about their concerns.
  • Most clinicians are not trained in discussing spirituality and do not bring it up, unless perhaps end-of-life decisions are being made.  Leave room for Spirit & Soul in your conversations.
  • When exploring Spirit & Soul, it helps to have a framework for gathering information.  There are many mnemonics, like IAMSECURE, that cover a variety of potentially useful topics.
  • Research has found that religiosity and spirituality favorably affect coping skills, the severity of many health concerns, coping, and healthy lifestyle choices.  Examples of conditions that benefit include depression, anxiety, coronary artery disease, HIV, elevated blood pressure, substance use disorders, and chronic pain.
  • Pathologies of the spirit— e.g. spiritual guilt, spiritual anger, and spiritual despair—are important to discuss, when appropriate.  The effects of moral injury on someone’s health should also be addressed.
  • There are many Spirit & Soul tools and skills you can suggest.  It can help to discuss forgiveness, spiritual anchors, and ways a person can start a spiritual practice.  Discussing coping helps.  To more fully support others (and because your self-care is vital in and of itself), it is vital you explore your own beliefs and truths as a clinician.

Please see the downloads section for more detailed clinician and patient information.

Disclaimer: This information is for general education. Please work with your health care practitioner to use it in the best way possible to promote your health.