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Depression Research and Treatment
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 124370, 6 pages
Review Article

Spiritually Integrated Treatment of Depression: A Conceptual Framework

Department of Psychosocial Oncology and Palliative Care, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, MA 02115, USA

Received 21 January 2012; Accepted 4 March 2012

Academic Editor: Harold G. Koenig

Copyright © 2012 John R. Peteet. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Many studies have found an inverse correlation between religious/spiritual involvement and depression. Yet several obstacles impede spiritually integrated treatment of depressed individuals. These include specialization and fragmentation of care, inexperience of clinicians and spiritual care providers, ideological bias, boundary and ethical concerns, and the lack of an accepted conceptual framework for integrated treatment. Here I suggest a framework for approaching these obstacles, constructed from a unified view of human experience (having emotional, existential, and spiritual dimensions); spirituality seen as a response to existential concerns (in domains such as identity, hope, meaning/purpose, morality, and autonomy in relation to authority, which are frequently distorted and amplified in depression); a rationale for locating spiritually oriented approaches within a clinician's assessment, formulation, and treatment plan; and recognition of the challenges and potential pitfalls of integrated treatment.