Development of a Spirituality-Infused Cognitive Behavioral Intervention for Individuals With Serious Mental Illnesses

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Abstract

Objective: Spirituality offers a vital coping resource that can bolster mental health and psychosocial well-being for individuals with serious mental illnesses (SMI). However, limited research on spirituality-infused evidence-based interventions exists to assist providers in mobilizing spirituality as a mental health resource. This article presents the cognitive–behavioral intervention Spiritual Strategies for Psychosocial Recovery (SSPR), developed to promote recovery among ethnoculturally diverse individuals with SMI by strengthening their coping mechanisms for internal and external distress through spiritual means. Methods: SSPR was developed in 5 steps: (1) observation of current recovery services at a partnering psychosocial rehabilitation center; (2) creation of a treatment manual based on extant literature, the authors’ evidence-based practice expertise, and observational data; (3) testing of specific SSPR skills with consumers; (4) refinement of the manual by using testing data; and (5) testing of the manual for feasibility with 37 consumers. Results: Initial feasibility testing indicated that the intervention was accepted and valued by participants and providers; did not trigger psychiatric disturbances; and provided accessible spirituality-based distress coping tools for helping participants manage psychological difficulties in the community. Conclusions and Implications for Practice: SSPR and its nondenominational spirituality-based distress coping skills appear to be well tolerated by consumers and providers. Thus, SSPR might be useful for providers seeking to address consumers’ distress coping by capitalizing on their existing or potential spiritual strengths. Future research is needed to evaluate the intervention’s effectiveness with randomized controlled trial designs in clinical and community settings.

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