Clients’ faith experiences as opportunity or challenge for psychotherapy? A qualitative analysis of clinical records

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  • Aida H. Andersen, University of Southern Denmark, Denmark
  • Dorte T. Viftrup, University of Southern Denmark, Denmark
  • Heidi Frølund Pedersen
  • Kirsten K. Roessler, University of Southern Denmark, Denmark
Faith experiences constitute important sources of meaning but also a risk of religious struggles. However, studies exploring the faith experiences of clients in relation to psychological functioning in psychotherapy are needed, especially in secularized countries. This study investigated how clients described faith experiences when addressed in psychotherapy, how they experienced faith in relation to coping, and how the experiences were integrated into the psychotherapy. Written records of 33 clients from a psychological clinic with outpatient care in Denmark were analyzed using interpretative phenomenological analysis. The most prevalent diagnoses among the clients were stress, depression, anxiety, and life crises. The clients reported that spiritual and religious beliefs functioned as sources of meaning and constituted either a strength, a challenge, or a combination of both. The psychosocial life and coping strategies of the clients were interwoven with faith experiences. A psychological, resource-focused approach in relation to the clients' religious challenges seemed to help them toward a more flexible and resource-oriented faith. Assessing faith experiences as sources of meaning in a therapeutic approach focusing on the client's resources may increase both the psychological functioning of clients and the therapists' understanding of clients' lifeworlds.
Original languageEnglish
Article number502
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2020

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