While everyone’s spiritual beliefs and experiences are unique, many people share similar elements of spirituality. They may engage in spiritual experiences such as looking inward or centering themselves, meditating, exercising, or spending time outdoors in nature. They may also believe that they are a part of something bigger than themselves or that there is a spiritual force behind all things.
Researchers and clinicians have identified several different aspects of spirituality. These include meaning and purpose; values, beliefs, and standards (related to beauty, worth, and truth); transcendence; connecting (to self, others, God or a higher power, the environment); and becoming. Although some of these dimensions can be dissociated and allocated to different axes, they are better understood as a dynamic construct that flows according to a person’s context and experiences.
Spirituality is a broad concept that has been difficult to pin down. As the number of Americans who identify as “spiritual but not religious” (SBNR) continues to grow, it’s important for health care professionals to understand how they can support clients in their spiritual growth.
To help, this article describes what we know about spirituality and provides an evidence-based framework for incorporating it into practice. It also includes questions for reflection, a tool for assessment, and references to additional resources.