Military veterans' preferences for incorporating spirituality in psychotherapy or counseling


Journal Article

© 2018 American Psychological Association. Amassing research findings suggests that religious faith and/or spirituality (R/S) can both help and hinder recovery from mental health conditions that might prompt military veterans to seek psychotherapy or counseling. As such, there is increasing interest among psychologists and other professionals working with military populations in the helpfulness of addressing the R/S domain. However, research has yet to examine veterans' actual preferences for integrating R/S in their treatment. Drawing on two samples with heterogeneity in R/S backgrounds and military-related experiences, results revealed that veterans generally viewed incorporating R/S in psychotherapy or counseling as "somewhat" important. When compared to more concrete approaches assessed in the study, they also gave greater importance to interventions that assumed an exploratory and affirming approach to R/S. In addition, when focusing on veterans with a probable need for treatment for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and/or major depressive disorder (MDD) at the time of the study, other results illuminated several factors that might shape these preferences. Namely, veterans from ethnic minority groups and those who were highly religious and/or had a strong belief in God's existence were more interested in a spiritually integrative treatment. This final set of analyses also revealed that veterans with clinical levels of PTSD/MDD symptoms who were experiencing R/S struggles endorsed stronger preferences, particularly with respect to moral struggles. Overall, these findings support the need for a patient-centered approach with veterans in which clinicians are not ignorant of R/S concerns but also do not assume that this domain should be targeted in every case.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Currier, JM; Pearce, M; Carroll, TD; Koenig, HG

Published Date

  • February 1, 2018

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 49 / 1

Start / End Page

  • 39 - 47

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1939-1323

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0735-7028

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1037/pro0000178

Citation Source

  • Scopus