Spirituality refers to the belief in some form of greater existence or the search for transcendental meaning beyond humankind. This belief or search may be associated with religion; however, the practice of spirituality is typically thought of as extending beyond religion. Spirituality is highly personal in nature and may be dependent on each individual.

What Is Spirituality in Therapy?

In the past, therapists were often hesitant to include spirituality in therapy due to the many differing belief systems as well as the potential controversy associated with therapy. Research has since shown that the inclusion of a person’s spiritual beliefs in therapy could prove to be beneficial in the healing process.

It is important to note that spirituality is typically considered to be broader in nature than any one single religion, as it takes into account both philosophic and cognitive areas of thought along with behavioral and emotional aspects. Spirituality may be defined as an attempt to understand one’s own existence, but could also be associated with the path to happiness and internal awareness. Around the world, many belief systems and cultures believe that an individual’s spirit is the very core of his or her existence. Consequently, spirituality may be referred to as the connection that people have with one another and to themselves. Spirituality is highly individual in nature. For instance, depending on the person, spirituality may or may not include adhering to specific religious principles. In instances in which spirituality includes a manifestation of that spirituality, it could include performing certain rituals. For other people, meditation, yoga, volunteer work, or dance could be viewed as outlets for expressing spirituality.

When an individual experiences a spiritual crisis, he or she may experience significant changes within their meaning system. This is also sometimes referred to as a spiritual emergency. When such a drastic change occurs, the individual’s formal beliefs may be called into question. The individual may reach a point where he or she begins to question their own life or the meaning of life.

Symptoms of a Spiritual Crisis

The symptoms of a spiritual crisis may vary from one person to another, but may include:

  • Life seems meaningless
  • World begins to seem less real
  • The person fears they are losing their own identity
  • A feeling of going insane
  • The world seems threatening
  • Fear of death
  • A feeling of impending doom
  • Symptoms of depression
  • An urge to connect with something higher

In many cases, the symptoms experienced may depend on the cause behind the spiritual crisis.v


There are numerous events that may cause an individual to experience a spiritual crisis. Such events might include:

  • Near death experience
  • Spiritual experience
  • Existential crisis
  • Life crisis, such as a broken relationship or the death of a loved one
  • Excessive levels of stress
  • Midlife crisis
  • Psychosis
  • Substance abuse
  • Paranormal experience
  • Medical problems
  • Major life change

Spirituality Therapy

Therapy involving spirituality is generally psychotherapy based, which is also sometimes known as talk therapy. In some instances, this form of therapy may include guided meditations or hypnosis. Generally; however, the primary focus of spirituality therapy is to discuss and understand one’s spiritual beliefs along with the purpose and meaning of life.

A therapist specializing in spirituality therapy will focus on listening to the person and helping him or her bring everything into focus and balance. Many times, an individual will seek spirituality therapy because he or she is struggling with some type of doubt and needs to discuss it with a third party. This is quite common in the case of grieving. For instance, the person may be fearful of losing his or her faith but does not feel as though they can discuss this with their own religious leader.

Individuals who suffer from addiction and/or trauma may feel as though they have lost their spirituality or their sense of purpose.

While a spiritual crisis or emergency can be uncomfortable, it can also have some benefits due to the fact that it usually forces someone to reexamine his or her life to identify what is important. In other cases, if someone has taken a wrong turn in their life, a spiritual crisis can help him or her find their way back to the right path. A spiritual crisis may also force someone to discard opinions and beliefs that are no longer helpful.

A therapist specializing in spiritual therapy will usually work closely with a client to obtain knowledge of his or her personal situation. The therapist will then assess the client’s situation to identify certain weaknesses and how therapy may offer help.

Some types of spiritual therapy may involve having the individual go into deep levels of meditation. The goal of this is to achieve the highest level of spiritual enlightenment possible. This may be done in a group setting or in a one-on-one individual session. Some types of spiritual therapy may also involve the use of hypnosis as a form of healing or therapy.

Persons who believe in a higher guiding power may find that spirituality therapy is beneficial for helping them to achieve a deeper connection with their higher power. Through this type of therapy, someone who is struggling with depression or anxiety may be able to identify and address areas of conflict as well as potential mental health concerns. This form of therapy may involve a variety of different approaches, including music, communing with nature, meditation, and other forms of non-traditional therapeutic practices. Regardless of the technique that is used, the goal is usually to connect the mind and body with the soul while helping the person to find a deeper meaning in life.

The type of therapeutic technique used in spirituality therapy is often highly dependent on the individual, the cause of their spiritual crisis, and what it is that he or she hopes to attain from therapy.

If you or someone close to you is experiencing a spiritual crisis, consulting a therapist who specializes in spiritual therapy can provide you with the help you need to get through a difficult time.

If you find you relate to the information in this article and would like some help, please contact Rita with Sioux Falls Wellness Counseling at (605) 610-9228.