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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


There is now good evidence that spirituality and religious faith can be protective factors helping to sustain patients and improve outcome. Taking a short spiritual history can assist psychiatrist and patient alike when considering treatment options, as well as strengthening the therapeutic relationship.

The CPD module Exploring spirituality with people who use mental health services is now available to all members of the College. The SPSIG has held meditation workshops at College meetings, and programmes on Mindfulness, with a CPD module under development. In addition, the SPSIG has contributed to the 2016 World Psychiatric Association Position Statement on Spirituality and Religion in Psychiatry.

Spirituality and Psychiatry Special Interest Group (SPSIG) | Executive Committee | Forthcoming events | Newsletters | Resources | Spirituality and Psychiatry prize | Publications archive | How to join | Spirituality SIG Annual Report 2016


The SPSIG supports the exploration of such fundamental questions as the purpose and meaning of life, which are so important for mental health; the problem of good and evil; life events invested with spiritual significance, including birth, illness, bereavement, death and the near death experience; mystical and trance states, and spiritual and religious awakening. Distinguishing between pathological and normal human experience is vital in order to understand better the overlap and the difference between the two.

The membership of the SPSIG has steadily increased over the years and in 2016 stands at over 3000. Twice yearly conferences are held, the website holds over 200 papers on spirituality by psychiatrists in its publications archive and there is an on line newsletter.


The ‘Help is at Hand’ series includes a leaflet on Spirituality and Mental Health, the College has published Recommendations for Psychiatrists on Spirituality and Religion and two books on spirituality in mental healthcare: Spirituality and Psychiatry and Spirituality and Narrative in Psychiatric Practice. A video about the work of the Special Interest Group Spirituality in Psychiatry for Today’s World can be viewed on line.


The Executive Committee is keen to involve the wider membership in shaping  the further work of the SPSIG. Trainees, in particular, have an important part to play in future developments. The committee would be glad to give support to psychiatrists and trainees interested in running local events or in wider networking. The aim of the SPSIG is always to affirm the universal nature of spirituality while encouraging diversity that informs and enriches. As valued colleagues, please make your views heard and your presence felt.


Forthcoming events






Meetings are 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.



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) 
  • ‘Spirituality and Psychiatrists’ (November 2014)
  • 'Mindfulness:Theory and Practice' (March 2015)
  • 'Whither the Soul of Psychiatry? The place of Spirituality in UK mental healthcare today' (November 2015)
  • 'Interfaith and Interface: the Contribution of Faith Groups to Mental Health' (March 2016)
  • Hallucinations and Spiritual Experience: Voices, Visions and Revelation (November 2016)  

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 for Spirituality in Healthcare Values in Healthcare. Tel: 0208 459 1400 and also


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Latest news





College Position Paper:

CPD Online module: 

Journal of Mental Health, Religion and Culture:

College 'Help is at Hand' leaflet:

From the Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust:

Please note: single download of the Handbook is permitted for personal use only. For multiple copies, email requesting an order form: £5 per copy including UK postage, discounts available for 10+


New from the Religion, Spirituality and Psychiatry Section of the World Psychiatry Association: