psychotherapy, religion, spirituality, ethics, competence


Incorporating spirituality and religion into psychotherapy has been controversial, but recent contri- butions have argued the importance and provided foundations for doing so. Discussions of ethical challenges in this process are emerging, and this contribution discusses several preliminary issues, relying on the Resolution on Religious, Religion-Based and/or Religion-Derived Prejudice adopted by the American Psychological Association in 2007, as guidance when used with the American Psychological Association’s (2002) Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct. Specifically, this discussion of preliminary challenges addresses competence, bias, maintaining traditions and standards of psychology, and integrity in labeling services for reimbursement. Commentators deepen the discussion, addressing what constitutes minimal competence in this area; effective and truly mutual collaboration with clergy; the high level of ethical complexity and “inherent messiness” of this domain of psychological practice; and the particular challenges of demarcating the boundaries of these domains for regulatory and billing purposes. This discussion offers decidedly preliminary ideas on managing the interface of these domains. Further development is needed before this nascent area approximates precise guidelines or standards.

Original Publication Citation

Gonsiorek, J. C., Richards, P. S., Pargament, K. I., & McMinn, M. R. (2009). Ethical challenges and opportunities at the edge: Incorporating spirituality and religion into psychotherapy. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 40 (4), 385-395.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL


Professional Psychology: Research and Practice




David O. McKay School of Education


Counseling Psychology and Special Education

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor