Including Spirituality into Systems of Western Psychology

Date of Completion


Document Type

Open Access Capstone

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

First Advisor

Delores B. Gallo


In our culture, we tend to separate religion and psychology, spiritual practice and therapy. If we are to redress this division, we must appreciate the need and appropriateness of reintroducing attention to the spiritual dimension of the individual back into Systems of Western psychology. This paper critically regards former attempts and limitations to relate issues of spirituality into the science of Western psychology. It explores the development of Allport's (1967) and Baton's (1976) research on religious orientation and constructing spiritual inventories. In addition, the paper also provides a definition of mental health as it reviews empirical research that regards spirituality as a legitimate independent variable. These experiments help to justify the inclusion of the spiritual dimension into psychological investigation and into modes of Western psychology. The paper then examines issues of spirituality in the frameworks of psychotherapy. In an effort to address this spiritual omission, this paper explores the work of Moore (1992) and Hillman (1975), who call for the idea of polytheism to be Infused Into therapeutic techniques. This idea considers multiple psychological needs of an Individual, which Moore and HilIman describe as addressing the care of the soul. In this way, psychology may invite a serious discussion of spirituality and its role in healthy functioning. Finally, the paper addresses the issue of reductionistic language in some sectors of Western psychology and its relationship to issues of spirituality Specifically, this paper explores the potential of religious language as a tool for reintroducing the spiritual dimension back into the realms of Western psychology. The paper then concludes with practical recommendations for constructing empirical investigations that use widely accepted and replicable methodologies to study spiritual phenomenon. If followed, these recommendations can contribute new knowledge about the value of spiritual practices to sound psychological health. Such efforts will not only add depth and breath to our Western psychology, but also add insight into the role of spirituality in the fully functioning individual.


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