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CAMH Stories Centre for Addiction
and Mental Health

A look ahead: the future of Spiritual Care at CAMH

For weeks now, we’ve shared stories featuring CAMH’s Spiritual Care Services. In addition to looking at the current state of Spiritual Care, including a discussion about balancing science and faith, we’ve considered its historical roots.

In this piece, we look to the future of Spiritual Care as it and the field of mental health continues to evolve.

“It’s taken time for psychiatry and religion to find a way to work together,” said Brian Walsh, Spiritual Care Provider at CAMH. “But we’ve reached a point now where we see the value of both science and spirituality in providing care to those living with mental illness.”

Small branch
As Spiritual Care Services continues to evolve at CAMH, Brian says assessment tools and research will be key players in developing its core competencies. “Our goal is to produce findings and resources that are useful for us and other practitioners, too. It’s about advancing the field,” he said.

Self-assessment project: how do you determine what is spiritual experience or mental distress?

One such resource that’s in the early stages of development is CAMH’s Self-Assessment Tool. “The purpose of this tool is to assist clients in understanding if the experience they’re having is a transcendent experience or symptom of mental illness,” said Shawn Lucas, Manager of CAMH’s Spiritual Care Services.

Existing research on transcendent experiences tells us that they are often very brief, provide pleasure and leave the individual with a sense of connection to something bigger than themselves. An illness, on the other hand, is prolonged or cyclical, often harmful and leaves the individual feeling isolated.

The Self-Assessment Tool’s questions are designed to distinguish between transcendence and mental illness. It does so free of judgement and ultimately works towards finding the most effective way for clients to use their spirituality. 

“This assessment exercise, and others we’re working on, tries to answer the how question for clients and clinicians,” said Brian. “How is my spirituality supporting or deteriorating my mental health?”

A quest for purpose and wellness

Historically, in the present and moving forward, CAMH’s Spiritual Care Services works with clients to unpack identity, experience and emotion on a quest for purpose. Resources like the Self-Assessment Tool, further research and empathetic Spiritual Care Providers all exist to guide clients towards wellness and feelings of inner peace.

Spiritual Care at CAMH
This is part three of a series dedicated to CAMH Communications Specialist Joan Chang, a talented and passionate communicator who appreciated the value of spiritual care. Joan developed a story framework to shine the spotlight on spiritual care at CAMH, and completed some interviews for the series. She died suddenly in June, 2015. A
tribute to Joan is included on the CAMH Foundation website.

Joan Chang

Also in the Spiritual Care Series:


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