Religious or Spiritual Problems

The DSM-IV suggests that a client's religious and spiritual beliefs should be considered in those cases when such beliefs leads to "distressing experiences that involve loss or questioning of faith, problems associated with conversion to a new faith, or questioning of spiritual values" (DSM-IV, 1994, p. 685). Religious or spiritual problems may also be the focus of clinical attention in those cases when a clinician believes that such a problem interferes with the overall assessment and treatment of the particular disorder. For example, many Hispanic clients believe that evil spirits cause mental problems and, as a result, the church, not the clinician, has the power to treat these problems (Paniagua, 1998). Hispanics often believe that prayers will cure physical and mental problems, and help from a mental health professional is often sought only when the family has exhausted all religious and folk resources to handle the problem. These religious and spiritual beliefs may directly or indirectly interfere with the assessment and treatment of a client from the Hispanic community.

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