Academic journal article Journal of Family Studies

Spirituality and Mental Health

Academic journal article Journal of Family Studies

Spirituality and Mental Health

Article excerpt

Spirituality and mental health GW Hartz New York, Haworth Pastoral Press, 2005, xiii+ 136pp., ISBN 0789024772, $23. 00 (paperback)

I was inclined to look at this book hoping that it would provide insight into spirituality, religion and their role and application in mental health. Hartz's background is interesting; born into a devout evangelical Christian background, he admits a tumultuous struggle with his Christian faith. Currently, Hartz describes himself as 'an eclectic, agnostic theist with Buddhist sympathies' (p. xi).

The book contains 7 chapters. The first three chapters attempt to define spirituality, the overlap between religion and spirituality, the assessment of a client's relationship with spirituality, and the ethical issues in spirituality and mental health. Hartz is not a dogmatic writer, and perhaps in an attempt to avoid dogmatism, ironically most of his descriptions and topics lack sufficient breadth and depth. 'Why has spirituality rather than religion become the term of choice for many people?' (p. 2), 'How can we find meaning in life when it all ends with death?' (p. 1). Complex questions, asked, yet very briefly covered.

According to Hartz, spirituality has three dimensions, or 'primary colours' (p. 6). In Chapter 1, he describes them as meaning, transcendence, and love. Unfortunately, these elements and their overlap with religion are depicted in very simplistic and barren diagrams. In Chapter 2, Hartz, a client-centered therapist draws important attention to discovering a client's source of meaning and never disputing specific religious beliefs. He advocates the use of a spiritual assessment with those clients who value religion very strongly, and the book includes exhibits of these assessment approaches. …

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