Bahá’í Practitioners’ Spiritual Orientation in Mental Health Practice

By Guia Calicdan-Apostle.

Published by The International Journal of Religion and Spirituality in Society

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

With growing recognition on the importance of religious and spiritual concerns in mental health practice, empirical research into spiritually integrated practice has begun to increase. However, to date, the body of research undertaken in this emerging field has been largely conducted from a Christian perspective. This study aimed to expand the scope of such research by exploring the beliefs and spiritual orientation towards mental health practice by a cohort of mental health providers who are self-identified members of the Bahá’í Faith, one of the lesser-known but fast growing religions in the world today. Utilizing online survey research, this first convenience sample study of Bahá’í mental health practitioners responded to open-ended questions that described how their spiritual beliefs influence their practice. This paper describes a thematic analysis of the Bahá’í practitioners’ spiritual orientation toward professional practice. The themes that emerged include: (a) a client as a spiritual being, (b) a belief in a universal approach to mental practice, (c) a practice based on standard and spiritual interventions, (d) practitioners’ perception of this world and the afterlife, and (e) person’s work as highest value. Implications for mental health and the role of spirituality will be discussed.

Keywords: Bahá’í Faith, Mental Health, Spiritual Beliefs, Thematic Analysis, Spiritually Integrated Practice

The International Journal of Religion and Spirituality in Society, Volume 2, Issue 4, pp.107-119. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 396.149KB).

Dr. Guia Calicdan-Apostle

Assistant Professor of Social Work, School of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, Galloway, USA

Guia Calicdan-Apostle currently works as an Assistant Professor of Social Work at Richard Stockton College of New Jersey after graduating from University of Pennsylvania School of Policy and Practice. Her dissertation topic was on spirituality and mental health, an area of study that is still lacking in the field of research and social work practice. While at Penn, Guia received the CTL Teaching Certificate, which recognizes doctoral students for their commitment to teaching and to developing as teachers. Guia practiced international social work, supervised teachers in an Indochinese refugee camp and, as an immigrant from the Philippines, landed an entry level job with the Ethiopian and Somali refugee communities in Virginia, USA. Her public health advocacy (tobacco control) work in New Jersey earned her a Multicultural Award from NIH. As a school social worker for many years in a public school setting, Guia strengthened her practice with children and youth. Guia attributes her passion in social work to great mentors from Philippine Women’s University, Asian Social Institute, and University of Pennsylvania.