Spirituality as a Clinical Tool: Care for the Homeless Mentally Ill
Of the half-million or more people in America who are homeless on any night of the year, approximately one-third have a serious mental illness. The proportion is even higher for people living outside shelters. At least half of seriously mentally ill adults who experience homelessness also have a substance use disorder; schizophrenia, mood disorders and behavior disorders are also commonly manifest in this population. Without appropriate care, mental illness is a strong predictor of chronic homelessness.
Among the therapeutic approaches receiving increasing attention from the mental health community is the use of spirituality as a catalyst for recovery. Extensive publications on spirituality and health attest to a growing interest in this topic. For this holiday issue of Healing Hands, we asked several mental health practitioners about the role of spirituality in the treatment of mentally ill homeless people. Some had never addressed spiritual concerns in their practice, nor had they referred clients with such concerns to religious professionals. Others, particularly those with a background in social work, psychotherapy and/or pastoral counseling, were eager to share their insights about the clinical relevance of spirituality to the care of homeless clients, which are reported here. (Healing Hands)
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