Thursday, July 19, 2007



I saw the words “supported spirituality” for the first time in the Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal. A friend from Florida had sent me her copy to read with the promise I would return it. Volume 30, Number 4 is a special issue on Spirituality and Recovery and the Editors of this issue had used the words in their piece. The article is called ,”Supported Spirituality: A New Frontier in the Recovery-Oriented Mental Health System.” It is by Zlatka Russinova of Boston University and Andrea Blanch of the Center for Religious Tolerance, Sarasota, Florida.

They talk about the “emerging evidence about the beneficial impact of spirituality on recovery”, but they also warn that “nothing would deflate the possibilities for positive change faster than being seen as an ‘anti-science’ movement.” Did they use the words “supported spirituality” to make sure everyone understood they were talking about a scientific approach to the matter?

Anyone who has been reading this blog or who has known me for very long knows that I believe that spirituality plays a central role in the recovery process, but for some reason the words “supported spirituality” seems to take away the naturalness I always associate with the process.

I have to speak about what I know. My own recovery journey and my faith and spirituality. The church is a faith community and one of the natural supports for my spiritual life. It is not the only one. Trout fishing Wilson Creek and kayaking the Catawba River are also natural supports for my spiritual life. My point is that to me “supported” makes it sound too formal and professional when I have found that the more natural the supports the better.

Let us just lay it out on the table. The mental health system can’t even get it’s own system designed correctly in most places. It does an even poorer job of coordinating care with primary health so we don’t die earlier than the general population. I cringe at the thought of what “supported spirituality” might look like designed by the mental health system that we have in most states that I know about.

There is already a “supported spirituality” system in place. They are called faith communities. They come in all shapes and sizes. They are “natural” supports. They are already proven. They pass the “best practices” test.

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