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Class Descriptions

Religion, Spirituality, Mental Health and Social Work


Credits: 3
Prerequisites: None

Pathway Associations

Community Change
Interpersonal PracticeElective (Host)
Mgmt & Leadership
Policy & Political
Program Evaluation
Older AdultsElective
Children & Families

Course Description

The course will explore the influence of religion and spirituality on mental health. Topics covered will include research on spirituality and religion and their interface, as well as the demographic correlates (e.g., age, gender, race) of religious participation. With regards to mental health, the course will examine several issues including: 1) religion and its relation to psychological well being, depression, and anxiety disorders such as OCD, 2) religious coping strategies, 3) the use of clergy for mental
health problems, and 4) religion and substance abuse.The use of religion and religious frameworks in interpersonal practice including palliative care will also be examined.


Upon successful completion of this course, students will be better able to:
1. Understand the difference between Spirituality and Religiosity from both a contemporary and historical perspective.
2. Understand the positive and negative impact of religion on mental health problems including Suicide, Anxiety, Depression, Substance Abuse and Risky Behaviors.
3. Understand positive and negative religious coping.
4. Understand the role of clergy in the help-seeking process.
5. Understand when and how to address religiosity/spirituality in interpersonal practice.
6. Understand the role of religion and spirituality as part of cultural competence and cultural humility.
7. Understand the role of religiosity and spirituality including the frequency of religious service attendance and religious attitudes and behaviors in the United States.
8. Understand how religiosity is measured in research.
9. Understand the role of emotional support from congregational members and negative interactions with congregational members in mental health.
10. Understand religiosity and spirituality assessment tools.
11. Understand different religious practices of these denominations: Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus and Buddhists.
12. Become more familiar with differences in religion/spirituality and mental health with these race/ethnic groups (i.e., Non-Hispanic Whites, African Americans, Mexican Americans, Native Americans, Black Caribbeans, Chinese Americans).
13. Address the impact of religiosity and religious attitudes on LGBT individuals.
14. Understand the historical conflict between religion and mental health providers.
15. Understand ethical dilemmas in religion and mental health.


The course format will include lectures, discussion, individual assignments.

Intensive Focus on Privilege, Oppression, Diversity and Social Justice (PODS)

This course integrates PODS content and skills with a special emphasis on diversity. In particular, the course investigates ethnic and cultural diversity with regards to racial and ethnic groups (African Americans, Black Caribbeans, Mexican Americans and Native Americans), as well as religious denominations (Jews, Muslims).

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