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The Royal College of Psychiatrists Improving the lives of people with mental illness

About us: Spirituality and Psychiatry Special Interest Group

Spirituality and psychiatry SIG about us

 

Spiritual values have a universality which brings together all involved in mental health care. The Special Interest Group supports the exploration of such fundamental questions as the purpose and meaning of life, which are so important for mental health, as well as the problem of good and evil and a wide range of specific experiences invested with spiritual meaning including birth, death and near-death, mystical and trance states and varieties of religious experience.

Spirituality and Psychiatry Special Interest Group (SPSIG) | Executive Committee | Forthcoming events | Newsletters | Resources | Spirituality and Psychiatry prize | Publications archive | How to join | Annual Report 2013

SPSIG

Over recent years, there have been a number of calls for an approach encompassing mind, body and spirit. The College was urged to do so by its patron, HRH the Prince of Wales in 1991. Professor Andrew Sims raised the issue again in 1993 in his Presidential Valedictory Lecture, as did Professor John Cox, the incumbent president of the College, at the Annual College meeting of that same year.

In 1997, the Archbishop of Canterbury addressed the Joint Conference of the College and the Association of European Psychiatrists. There was widespread interest in a ground-breaking series of Religion and Psychiatry Conferences held at the Institute of Psychiatry and many other regional initiatives have followed. A landmark survey in 1998 by the Mental Health Foundation revealed that over fifty per cent of service users hold religious or spiritual beliefs, which they see as important in helping them cope with mental illness, and highlighted the need expressed by many patients for encouragement in discussing such concerns with their psychiatrists. Spirituality can be as broad as 'the essentially human, personal and interpersonal dimension, which integrates and transcends the cultural, religious, psychological, social and emotional aspects of the person' or more specifically 'concerned with soul or spirit (the term 'spiritual' is now included in DSM IV under the heading of 'other conditions that may be a focus of clinical attention'). The Special Interest Group has a correspondingly varied and wide-ranging agenda, including consideration of protective factors that spiritually sustain the patient in crisis and otherwise contribute to mental health.

Spiritual values have a universality which brings together all involved in mental health care. The Special Interest Group supports the exploration of such fundamental questions as the purpose and meaning of life, which are so important for mental health, as well as the problem of good and evil and a wide range of specific experiences invested with spiritual meaning including birth, death and near-death, mystical and trance states and varieties of religious experience. Both pathological and normal human experiences are considered in order to understand better the overlap and difference between the two.

The membership of the group now stands at 3000.

 

Forthcoming events

 

Next SPSIG meeting:

14 November 2014 - ‘Spirituality and Psychiatrists' ( one day conference),  Royal College of Psychiatrists, 21 Prescot Street, London, E1 8BB.

 

The full programme can also be found in the latest issue of the Newsletter (No. 37). This meeting is open to all trainees, members, associates  and affiliates of the College and their invited guests.

 

 

How to join

 Membership of Special Interest Groups is open to all Members of or Associates of the College. Non-college membership and guest attendance is by invitation only.

 

To join, please complete our online application form or email the College Membership office.

 

Meetings

One-day meetings include:

  • 'What do we mean by spirituality and its relation to psychiatry?' (January 2000)
  • 'Fear and Faith - the quandary of the psyche under threat'. (April 2000)
  • 'Avenues to peace of mind'. (October 2000)
  • 'Forgiveness and reconciliation'. (January 2001)
  • 'Engaging the spiritual mind'. (May 2001)
  • 'The healing power of love'. (November 2001)
  • 'Good and Evil - the challenge for Psychiatry'. (February 2002)
  • 'Integrating Mind and Body: psycho-spiritual therapeutics'. (July 2002)
  • 'Pathways to Peace - East meets West'. (November 2002)
  • 'Invited or Not, God is Here: spiritual aspects of the therapeutic encounter'. (January 2003)
  • 'Minds within Minds: the case for Spirit Release Therapy'. (May 2003)
  • 'Spiritual issues in child psychiatry'. (October 2003)
  • 'Prayer in the service of mental health'. (January 2004)
  • ‘A Fatal Wound? Who and what does suicide destroy’. (October 2004)
  • ‘What inspires the psychiatrist? Personal; beliefs, attitudes and values’. (January 2005)
  • '‘Special needs, special gifts - learning disability and spirituality’. (October 2005)
  • ‘Spirituality and religion in later Life’. (December 2005)
  • 'Psychosis, psychedelics and the transpersonal Journey'. (March 2006)
  • 'Sanity, Sex and the Sacred: exploring intersecting realms'. (November 2006)
  • 'Suffering - what is the point of it all?' (March 2007)
  • 'Body and Spirit'. Joint meeting with the philosophy SIG. (May 2007)
  • 'Spirituality and Psychopathology', held in association with the Dutch Foundation for Psychiatry and Religion. (November 2007)
  • 'Researching Spirituality: paradigms and empirical findings'. (February 2008)
  • 'Mindfulness, Meditation and Mental Health'. (November 2008)
  • 'Consciousness and the Extended Mind'. (April 2009)
  • 'Spirituality and Religion - Friends or Foes?' (November 2009)
  • 'Spiritual and Religious Healing: Implications for Mental Healthcare' (April 2010)
  • 'Intolerant Secularisation' (October 2010)
  • 'Spirituality and the Divided Brain' (March 2011)
  • ‘Spirituality in the Forensic Context: Offending, Reparation and Repair’ (April 2012)
  • 'Belief or Delusion?' (October 2012)
  • 'Furthering kindness and kinship in mental healthcare' (April 2013)
  • 'Brain Disorders and Spirituality: Healing Brain and Mind and rediscovering the Transcendent' (November 2013) 
  • ‘Above and Beyond, or Right Here, Right Now? Transcendence, Immanence and Mental Health’ (April 2014) 

 

Open conferences include:

  • ‘The Place of Spirituality in Psychiatry’ held jointly with the Royal Society of Medicine (2002)
  • ‘Beyond Death – Does Consciousness Survive?’ at Kings College Hospital, London (2004)
  • ‘Healing from Within and Beyond – the Therapeutic Power of Altered States’ held jointly with the RSM (2005)
  • 'Doctors, Clergy and the Troubled Soul: two professions, one vocation?' held jointly with the Guild of Health, London (2011) 
  • Spirituality and Clinical Psychiatry: Training and Practical Issues for Mental Health Practitioners, London (2013)

 

In 2011, the College published the Position Paper Recommendations for Psychiatrists on Spirituality and Religion 

The SPSIG also supports an important educational initiative launched by the Janki Foundation on Values in Healthcare.. Email for enquiries on ordering the pack. The Janki Foundation for Global Health Care, Values in Healthcare, 449/451 High Road, London NW10 2JJ, UK. Tel: 0208 459 1400 / 9090 

 

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