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Spirituality SIG Chair Blog - July 2021

Spirituality and Psychiatry – Where next?

As I take over the Chair from Ali Gray, and as the College consults on its new curricula framework, this seems like a good point at which to reflect on the future of spirituality and psychiatry. What do you think the place of spirituality should be within clinical practice, research and education in psychiatry? My thoughts at the moment are particularly focussed on education.


We now have not only the RCPsych position statement on spirituality and religion in psychiatry (PS03_2013), but also a WPA position statement (published in World Psychiatry in 2016), both of which make reference to spirituality/religion as “essential” components of psychiatric training. Do these policy documents impact upon clinical practice? Similarly, as I am preparing the 2nd edition of Spirituality and Psychiatry (hopefully to be published early next year, if not later this year), does reading such books translate into doing things differently in clinical practice? And what is it that we should be doing differently?


As a member of the College’s Person-Centred Training and Curriculum (PCTC) Scoping Group, which published its report in 2018, I was very conscious that spirituality matters not only because of the research evidence base demonstrating that it has an impact on mental wellbeing, but because it is important to our patients. If we place their concerns at the centre of clinical practice we will inevitably find ourselves given respectful and sensitive attention to their spirituality. This message needs to begin with training. The future of psychiatry depends upon the psychiatrists that we are training today. This being the case, it is disappointing that the draft curricula framework – currently open for consultation on the members’ area of the College website – says so little about spirituality. Do make sure that you have your say before the consultation closes on 13 August!


Education, in the form of our day conferences, has always been a priority for SPSIG. Our next day conference, on 10th December, will be: Taboo or Together: Is there a place for Spirituality in CAMHS?

The event will be online (conferences on College premises will not resume before the beginning of 2022) and we hope you will join us for an exciting line-up of speakers, including Professor Mary Lynn Dell. In addition to being a distinguished professor of child psychiatry in New Orleans, Mary Lynn is the current chair of the caucus on spirituality and religion at the American Psychiatric Association (the US equivalent of the SPSIG at RCPsych). There will also be contributions from chaplaincy, occupational therapy, and our very own Lucy Grimwade (SPSIG executive committee member). The programme addresses issues as diverse as eco-spirituality, NIHR research on chaplaincy, and godly play – so not just for child psychiatrists! Do reserve the date in your diary….


Please do be in touch with me (at if you have thoughts to share about the future of the SPSIG, or if you would like to be more involved.
Warm good wishes to all,

Professor Christopher CH Cook
Chair, SPSIG


SPSIG student bursaries

The Spirituality in Psychiatry Special Interest Group have made available some funds to subsidise the attendance of medical students at their day conferences.

The bursary is applied for on the following application form, submitted to

This bursary is a one-off partial payment for a specific SPSIG conference, paid from SIG funds.

Students should apply using their academic, NHS or hospital trust email address and stating their course of study, their institution and which year they are now in.

The bursary is primarily intended for medical students. Preference will be given to student associates of the RCPsych.

Consideration will be given to students of other subjects in the fields of mental health and spirituality, or low paid or voluntary mental health workers, on a case by case basis.

A higher level of bursary is available for those willing to help out practically on the day e.g. by passing the roving microphone during discussions.

The SPSIG executive committee will decide who receives the bursary, their decision is final.

Get in contact to receive further information regarding a career in psychiatry