The state of Virginia is mobilizing to improve the delivery of mental health services. At the same time, and much more quietly, a new model of treatment is emerging among the field’s professional ranks—the model of spiritual care. Consider:
- Before the year 2000, spiritual care was not generally considered proven or scientific, though a few studies suggested some potential.
- Since 2000, a surge of major studies have concluded that some form of spiritual care is definitely an effective element of professional treatment, and it is now widely used in professional practice as an adjunct to traditional treatment.
- Most recently in 2011, in fact, spiritual care was officially endorsed as a necessary element of treatment by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), a federal agency overseeing the practice of mental health.
What, exactly, is spiritual care? It’s not necessarily religious, as in organized religion. Researchers and practitioners commonly define spiritual care more secularly–as any of a wide variety of appeals to a power outside of one’s self that can be transformative within.
Research is still trying to measure the potential of spiritual care. Could it crack what traditional mental health practice has long considered incurable? Might it have the potential to completely heal cases believed to be only partially recoverable?