Spiritual Well-Being and Psychological Well-Being in Mexican-American Catholics

By Ramirez, Antonio; Lumadue, Christine A. et al. | Journal of Professional Counseling, Practice, Theory, & Research, Fall 2007 | Go to article overview

Spiritual Well-Being and Psychological Well-Being in Mexican-American Catholics


Ramirez, Antonio, Lumadue, Christine A., Wooten, H. Ray, Journal of Professional Counseling, Practice, Theory, & Research


Spirituality is increasingly taking on greater importance within the field of counseling. This study attempts to promote greater understanding of the relationship between spirituality and health. Within the broad umbrella of spirituality as it relates to mental health, specific populations should be examined to honor the diversity of people. This study investigated the relationship between spiritual and psychological well-being in Mexican-Americans Catholics in South Texas using the Spiritual Well-Being Scale (Paloutzian & Ellison, 1982) and the Psychological Well-Being Scale (Ryff & Keyes, 1989; 1995). Results showed significant correlations between the scores on the measures as a whole and among the subscales. This indicates that spiritual well-being and psychological well-being are related in this population.

A number of practitioners and researchers have studied the role that religion and spirituality play in counseling (Burke, Hackney, Hudson, Mirianti, Watts, & Epp, 1999; Faiver, Ingersoll, O'Brien, & McNally, 2001). They believe spirituality is an important component of counseling and psychotherapy and renders the process more effective. Younggren (1993) also concluded that religion and spirituality were important issues for the counseling profession. He expressed concern that, although there was an increasing awareness regarding these issues, there was not enough education and training regarding the role of religion and spirituality in counseling offered in accredited programs. Miranti and Burke (1995) contended that the challenge for counselors is not whether the issues should be addressed, but that they be addressed by well-prepared and sensitive professionals. Therefore, Burke et al. (1999) proposed recently that spirituality and religion should be included in the core curriculum of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP), as counselors have an ethical imperative to fully appreciate and understand the world view and the life development of their clients. Subsequently, the American Counseling Association began a series of summits among professionals specializing in the topics of spirituality, religion, and counseling. From these, a list of competencies that all counselors should acquire as part of their training was generated (Association for Spiritual, Ethical, and Religious Values in Counseling, 2004; Burke, et al., 1999; Hinterkopf, 1998; Young, Cashwell, Wiggins-Frame, & Belaire, 2002).

In the relationship between spirituality or religion and mental health, Ellison and Smith (1991) studied the relationship between religious involvement and subjective well-being. Results from the General Social Survey (GSS) and self reported participation in church attendance and activities, indicated that of the 400 participants, those with strong religious faith reported higher levels of life satisfaction. The data also revealed greater personal happiness and fewer negative psychosocial consequences from experiencing traumatic events. Among older persons and persons with low levels of formal education, religious involvement was correlated positively with existential certainty or the sense of coherence and order in one's life. According to Ellison and Smith, religion seemed to improve well-being in at least four ways. The first way was through providing support and a form of social integration. The second was that religion was seen to provide systems of meaning and existential coherence. Third, the provision of religious organization was seen as giving order to one's personal lifestyle. Finally, religion appeared to enhance psychological well-being by establishing a personal relationship with a divine order. Such relationships may help in the formation of a coherent, meaningful universe, thus providing a high degree of existential certainty (Ellison & Smith, 1991).

In a meta-analysis of more than 20 empirical studies that measured religion and quality of mental health, Bergin (1983) summarized his findings by challenging the assumption that religion is associated with irrationality as mentioned by Ellis (1980). …

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