• Psychology
  • Social Work
Hours: 8 Contact Hours
  • Cassandra Vieten, PhD
  • Shelley Scammell, PsyD
Workbook Author(s): Laura Gibson, PhD, LCSW
Item#: B4224
Contents: 1 Textbook (256 pages)

Spiritual & Religious Competencies in Clinical Practice: Guidelines for Psychotherapists & Mental Health Professionals

Price $59.95
Item # B4224
When available, the Online Course format is included with the hard copy, eBook, or audio book formats!

Release Date: May 18, 2016

Expiration Date: December 31, 2019

As an element of cultural competence and cultural responsiveness, the roles of religion and spirituality in clients’ lives affect many domains of mental health and psychotherapeutic practice. It is not possible to fully understand clients without also understanding the influence, or lack thereof, of spiritual and religious beliefs, practices, attitudes, and behaviors.  Yet, many social workers, psychologists, marriage and family therapists, and mental health counselors receive little or no specific training on integrating this topic into their work with the clients they serve.

This intermediate-level course illuminates the significance this particular dimension of a client’s culture has on his or her self-perception, behavior, resilience, and worldview.  The course provides step-by-step guidance on ways to obtain a client’s spiritual and religious history, examine the clinician’s biases and assumptions, identify and address religious problems or struggles, differentiate between religious or spiritual experiences and psychopathology, and how to provide competent and effective care to clients from diverse traditions, including collaborations with clergy or other mental health professionals.

Designed for those professionals who wish to improve their cultural responsiveness in this area, the course offers information about expanding their practice to include the attitudes, knowledge, and skills necessary to competently identify and address religious and spiritual issues and to help client draw upon resources.  Well organized and easy to follow, the course breaks down complex concepts into practical applications for clinicians to integrate easily into their practice – including an up to date knowledge base, assessment tools, and interventions strategies.

  • Social Workers participating in this course will receive 8 (cultural competence) continuing education clock hours upon successful course completion. Accreditations
  • Psychologists will receive 8 CE credits upon successfully completing this course. APA Approval

New Jersey Social Workers - This course is approved by the Association of Social Work Boards - ASWB NJ CE Course Approval Program Provider #52, Course #1171 from December 19, 2016 to December 19, 2018. Social Workers will receive the following type and Number of credit(s): Social & Cultural Competence, 8 credits.

Course Objectives


  • Recognize how empathy, respect, and appreciation of clients’ religion and spirituality contribute to client engagement.
  • Explain the role of attitudes and beliefs about diversity in the development of religious and spiritual competence.
  • Distinguish among religion, spirituality, and psychopathology.
  • Recognize how a client’s beliefs and practices evolve and change across the developmental lifespan.
  • Describe the possible effects of a client’s religious and spiritual beliefs, experiences, and coping methods on his or her psychological well-being.
  • Identify evidence-based practices designed to help conduct effective therapy with clients of diverse spiritual and religious backgrounds.


Cassandra Vieten, PhD, is a licensed clinical psychologist, president and CEO of the Institute of Noetic Sciences, and a scientist at the Mind Body Medicine Research Group at California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute in San Francisco, CA.  

Her research on mindfulness-based approaches to dealing with addictions, mood disorders, and for stress reduction during pregnancy and early motherhood has been funded by the National Institutes of Health, the State of California, and several private foundations. She is author of Mindful Motherhood: Practical Tools for Staying Sane During Pregnancy and Your Child's First Year. 

Her research  has also focused on spiritual practices and health, and how people make significant changes in their lives toward more meaning, health, and well-being. In addition to Mindful Motherhood, she is coauthor, along with Marilyn Schlitz and Tina Amorok, of Living Deeply: The Art and Science of Transformation in Everyday Life.

Shelley Scammell, PsyD, is a clinical psychologist with a twenty-year practice in the San Francisco Bay Area. She is an adjunct professor at the California Institute of Integral Studies, and has taught psychology at Sonoma State University, as well as at the American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Formerly, she was an associate professor of English at New York University, and taught at Baruch College and Mount Holyoke. 

As co-president of the Institute for Spirituality and Psychology, she was fundamental in developing the sixteen competencies. She has published articles on the competencies in APA journals as well as presented them at several APA national conventions. Her extensive background in Western and Eastern spiritual practices and studies has informed her diagnosis and treatment of clients in spiritual struggles. Her clinical experience has fostered a desire to share this expertise with fellow clinicians.



Laura Gibson, PhD, LCSW, has been practicing clinical social work for more than 18 years. She earned a bachelor of science degree in psychology from Bridgewater State College (now Bridgewater State University), a master’s degree in social work from the University of Southern Indiana, and a doctor of philosophy degree in social work from the University of Louisville. Dr. Gibson is a licensed clinical social worker in both Indiana and Kentucky. She is an item writer for the Association of Social Work Board’s (ASWB) master’s-level licensing examination for social workers and is a former member of the ASWB Examination Committee. She is a book review editor for the Journal of Social Work Values and Ethics. Dr. Gibson is an assistant professor and the MSW Program Director for Brescia University in Owensboro, Kentucky.


  • Courses must be completed on or before the expiration date noted in the course description above. 
  • You must score 75% or higher on the final exam and complete the course evaluation to pass this course and receive a certificate of completion.
  • Through our review processes, Western Schools ensures that this course content is presented in a balanced, unbiased manner and is free from commercial influence. It is Western Schools’ policy not to accept commercial support.
  • All persons involved in the planning and development of this course have disclosed no relevant financial relationships or other conflicts of interest related to the course content.