, Volume 31, Issue 1, pp 25-31
Date: 10 Jan 2014

A Pragmatic Approach to Teaching Psychiatry Residents the Assessment and Treatment of Religious Patients

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The authors descripe a pragmatic and atheoretical frameword for teaching psychiatry residents how to assess and treat religious patients.


The psychiatrist’s goals in assessing the religious history are clarified. These goals differ between the assessment and treatment phases. During assessment, attention is paid to psychiatric phenomenology and careful history-taking utilizing knowledgeable outside informants. A framework is presented for engaging religious patients, fostering therapeutic alliance, avoiding pitfalls, and facilitating treatment within the patient’s religious context.


Emphasizing knowledge of phenomenology and information gathering skills may be more effective than emphasizing broad knowledge of many religions, except for clinicians practicing within a particular religious community.

This study was supported in part by the Shapiro Family Foundation, Baltimore, Md.