Publication Date

August 2005

Document Type

Conference Presentation


Symposium Presented at the 113th Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association. Washington, D.C.


The purpose of the present symposium is twofold: 1) to evaluate the definition of spirituality and explore the misuse of the construct in the literature, and 2) to present positive alternatives for using spirituality in psychology. The symposium intends to present the material in a developmental sequence, building on previous material. The first presenter describes the problem of an ambiguous definition of spirituality. Then, citing examples from the literature, the presenter shows how this definition, although broad, can result in an abuse of power in order to force acquiescence to desired behaviors and calls for a spirituality more explicitly and consistently defined. The other presenters explain how spirituality, thus defined, can be used effectively within the context of psychology. Specifically, the second presenter describes spirituality within the context of academics that allows openness and dialogue over religious issues. The final presenter discusses spirituality from a practitioner/supervisor’s perspective, empowering the training of licensed psychologists.