The Strengths & Limitations of Five Different Spiritual Assessment Methods

The Strengths and Limitations of Five Different Spiritual Assessment Methods

Article Summary

This journal article was written by David Hodge, and published in the health and social work journal of 2005. According to the article, the author believes that one of the tools and resource that can be utilized in the treatment of patients, as well as the generation of a discharge plan is by tapping into their spirituality. This involves the use of religious affiliations and social responsibility to guide the healing process of the individual, and managing to live with the aftereffects of their medical treatment or emotional stability. Therefore, the achievement of this momentous task can be through the assistance of social workers who could perform a spiritual assessment on the patient or individual to determine their religious afflictions. This information could then be integrated into the patient’s treatment plan to enhance the quality of care and the mental, emotional, and social support that patients require during their healing process.

The article identifies a Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) as one of the medical health organizations that have endorsed the use of spiritual assessment, as a favorable patient care and treatment resource. This shows the commitment of the medical staff and institutions towards the use of spiritual assessment. The article established the research problem as lack of spirituality assessment tools methodologies that are available for social workers and medical experts to utilize in their determination of a patient’s spiritual afflictions, beliefs, and attitudes.

Therefore, this article provides a guideline for social workers and medical staff to learn some of the spiritual assessment methodologies. The article states that there are five qualitative spiritual assessment instruments that can be utilized to achieve the desired results. These five resources are spiritual ecograms, spiritual histories, spiritual life maps, spiritual ecomaps, and spiritual genograms. A spiritual history is the only verbally based methodology, while the rest use pictorial representations. The article also gives some of the application, strengths, and limitations of each method independently. For instance, it shows the spiritual history as being favorable for people who love to express themselves using verbal communication as the prime means. Additionally, it shows the remaining mechanisms as being favorable for creative individuals who are nonverbal, but can use diagrams and picture to express themselves. The article surmises using a brief study that only shows the results and discussion of the findings. The research was conducted on a sample group of 542 older adults in a hospital. The findings of the research were that 43% of these people considered spirituality as an effective coping mechanism for their illness.

Article Reflection

This article provided a different approach to patient care that seemed obvious, but whose research had been largely neglected, due to a lack of adequate knowledge of its effectiveness, its use, or its spread within the medical field. The article offers two unique and unexplored views that are essential for the enhancement of patient care in hospitals and after being discharged. First, it shows the importance of spirituality and religion as resourceful for patient care. The evidence of this can be seen though the endorsement of the practice by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO). This is a highly unexplored field due to the supposed neglect on its effectiveness or penetration within today’s society that is highly independent and less inclined towards religion. Therefore, this means that it is possible to widen the scope of the study of patient care and treatment outside the normal use of medicine and psychological counseling to care for the patients.

Secondly, the article offers a unique and an unexplored view on how spirituality can be assessed by social workers and medical staff. Derivation of one’s religious affiliations in a hospital can be difficult, since the patients could be under different levels of emotional stability, mental aloofness, and physical inability. Therefore, the article offers insight on mechanisms that could be used to suit the needs for these different types of patients and effectively derive their religious affiliations, spirituality, and beliefs in supreme deities as a means of supporting their healing processes and how they manage and influence their lives. This insight on the ability does not only use oral communication, but also pictorial diagrams to achieve this result show the endless possibilities for achieving not only spiritual assessment, but also performing other relevant psychological and physical assessment on patients. Research on other applications of these assessment methodologies can be performed by accessing academic researches, studies, and publications that have been used not only on patients, but also on normal people to retrieve information. Therefore, the use of pictorial diagrams as an effective information retrieval methodology could have endless possibilities for the advancement of methodology, as well as endless possibilities for enhancing this effect on people.

However, the article only relies on qualitative approaches for spiritual assessment. This opens the possibilities for further methodologies that can be accessed from a rich pool of quantitative instruments, as well as their effectiveness and mode of application on the patients. Some of these quantitative instruments are Spiritual Well-Being Scale, which examines psychological dimensions of religious welfare, and Religious Orientation Scale, which examines the level of the spiritual impetus within religious practices. Therefore, this analogy provides that it is essential for the social workers and medical staff to utilize several spiritual assessment methodologies to achieve the desired results, since reliance on only one method could be ineffective in generating substantial results.

Counseling of a Person Suing the Spiritual Assessment Resource

The choice of a problem that the individual is facing is substance abuse and it is in a church setting. Following the arrival of the patient, it is vital to begin by setting the parameters that would ease the patient into the comfort ability to become accustomed to the need to be free and generate trust and cohesion between each other. This would ease tension and help the patient to reveal his troubles and problems. Once the trust has been created, the next step is to assess the individual’s history, whereby a combination of three strategies is used to arrive at the root cause of the problems facing them. This spiritual assessment instruments that are used are spiritual histories, spiritual life maps, and ecomaps.

The spiritual histories are used to draw a pattern of the individual’s personal and spiritual history by allowing them to freely converse and narrate their spiritual journey that they believe has been instrumental in guiding them through life’s hardships and successes. This information is also used to draw up the spiritual life maps that portray a pictorial diagram of the individual’s spiritual journey and life’s events. This information is then used to draw parallels that link his/her substance abuse to different times of his life. For instance, from this information, we can deduce the time the individual began abusing drugs, his emotional, social, spiritual, and physical state at this onset, and the subsequent changes in these states during his/her lifetime. Therefore, from this analogy, the counselor could identify the root cause of the problems that resulted in the individual resorting to substance as a means to cushion them from facing life’s realities.

This representation can then be used to draw parallels, showing if the current changes in the individual’s life have resulted in any changes to their drug abuse problems. This is achieved using the spiritual life maps, coupled with the ecomaps. These two draw links between one’s family and friends to their spiritual journey. Therefore, they identify the weak and strong points from the person’s history, as well as the weak and strong individuals in the person’s life that have positive and negative impacts on their life’s journey. Based on this pictorial representation, and using the ecomap, the counselor then identifies some of the people in the individual’s current lifestyles and their positive or negative contributions to their lives. This is essential for the counselor to formulate an effective counseling program for the individual that involves the provision of spiritual and psychological assistance of the individual. Additionally, the counselor can advise the individual to associate with people that seem to offer positive contributions to his/her life and prevent him/her from engaging in substance abuse, while concurrently shunning away individuals that offer negative effects that result in his substance abuse.










Hodge, D. (2005). Developing a Spiritual Assessment Toolbox:  A Discussion of the Strengths and Limitations of Five Different Spiritual Assessment Methods. Health and social work. 30 (4): 314-323.




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