Objectives: Although the importance of addressing issues of spirituality and religion is increasingly acknowledged within psychiatry training, many questions remain about how to best teach relevant knowledge, skills, and attitudes. Current literature on curricula highlights the importance of maintaining a clinical focus and the balance between didactic content and process issues. The authors present findings from a program evaluation study of a course on religion, spirituality, and psychiatry that deliberately takes a primarily process-oriented, clinically focused approach.
Methods: Two six-session courses were offered. The first course targeted fourth-year psychiatry residents and the second targeted third-year psychiatry residents. Teaching sessions consisted of brief didactics combined with extensive process-oriented discussion. A two-person faculty team facilitated the courses. Clinical case discussions were integrated throughout the curriculum. A panel of chaplains was invited to participate in one session of each course to discuss the interface between spiritual counsel and psychiatry. A modified version of the Course Impact Questionnaire, a 20-item Likert scale utilized in previous studies of spirituality curricula in psychiatry, assessed residents’ personal spiritual attitudes, competency, change in professional practice, and change in professional attitudes before and after the course (N = 20). Qualitative feedback was also elicited through written comments.
Results: The results from this study showed a statistically significant difference between the pre- and post-test scale for residents’ self-perceived competency and change in professional practice.
Conclusion: The findings suggest improvement in competency and professional practice scores in residents who participated in this course. This points toward the overall usefulness of the course and suggests that a process-oriented approach may be effective for discussing religion and spirituality in psychiatric training.