INSTRUCTOR: Barbara J. Hemphill

Telephone        692-375-0417



TITLE:           OT 697 & OT 436 Spirituality in Occupational Therapy- Directed Ind. Study



COURSE DESCRIPTION: The purpose of this course is to provide the learner with skills for developing a personal spiritual path.  The content is designed to assist the learner to become aware of their level of spiritual development and the impact it has in the occupational therapy treatment process.  Journalizing will be used as a method for gaining insight into one’s stage of spirituality. Various definitions of spirituality from the lay literature, health professional literature, theological literature, and occupational therapy literature will be reviewed.  This is not a course in religion.  However, spirituality as a religious concept in occupational therapy will be emphasized.  The history of spirituality in occupational therapy, the theology of occupation, the use of the “therapeutic use of self”, and how spirituality fits into the treatment approach in occupational therapy treatment will be the primary focus.  Assessment tools will be introduced that can be used to assess clients’ spiritual development.


OBJECTIVES: The learner will be able to:


1.         identify the stages of spiritual development

2.         journalize for the purpose of gaining insight into their level of spiritual development.

3.         express a personal definition of spirituality

4.         identify the role of spirituality in occupational therapy treatment

5.         administer an assessment tool that measures spiritual development to occupational therapy clients.

6.         discuss the history of spirituality in occupational therapy – moral treatment, and holism.

7.         recognize the “therapeutic use of self” in occupational therapy treatment.

8.         identify the domains of spirituality used in occupational therapy.

9.         discuss Adolf Meyer’s theology of spirituality.

10.       identify spiritual concepts in the occupational therapy profession’s official documents.




1.         Pre and post survey of spiritual development – to measure learner’s progress.

2.         Use of Progoff’s work “At a Journal Workshop” as the basis for journalizing.

3.         Identification of spiritual concepts in the occupational therapy profession’s official documents.

4.         Identification of spirituality in the historical literature of occupational therapy.

5.         Spiritual assessments – “Multidimensional Measurement of Religious/Spirituality for Use in Health Research”.

6.         The domains of spirituality (daily spiritual experiences, meaning, values, beliefs, forgiveness, private religious practices, religious/spiritual coping, religious support, religious/spiritual history, commitment, organizational religiousness, religious preference) used in occupational therapy.

7.         Review the writings of Adolf Meyer and his influence on the historical development of spirituality in occupational therapy.

8.         Review of the literature in regard to the definitions of spirituality in order to develop a personal definition.

            a. From the Occupational Therapy Literature

            b. From the Lay Literature

            c. Professional Literature

            d. From Theology Literature


9.         The five stages of the Soul – described by Moody and Carroll.

            a. The call, b. The search, c. The struggle, d. The breakthrough, e. The return.


10.       The Characteristic of the Spiritual Quest

11.       Review of Bernie Siegel’s work “Love, Medicine and Miracles.”



1.         Write a 1 page personal definition of spirituality

2.         Journal at least twice  week

3.         Write a 1 page paper answering the question – “How does spirituality apply to occupational therapy practice?”

4.         Completion of pre and post survey of spiritual development.

5.         Reflection papers from “Love, Medicine and Miracles”

6.         Book Report – only required of graduate students.


1.         All assignments posted when due.

2.         All assignments meet editorial requirements

3.         All assignments are complete

4          Participation in group discussion – group attendance will be taken

5.         All assignments handed in on time.

6.         All assignments are prepared professionally – typed.



1.         Various published articles and readings from books will be provided from the occupational therapy literature, professional literature and theological literature.  The occupational therapy literature will be emphasized. The readings will be assigned by the instructor.


 2.          Hasselkus, B. (2002). The Meaning of Everyday Occupation, Thorofare, New Jersey: Slack Inc.Chapter 8.


3.         John E. Fetzer Institute (1999), Multidimential Measurement of Religious/Spirituality for Use in Health Research, Kalamazoo, Michigan: John E. Fetzer Institute.


4.         Siegel, B. (1990). Love medicine and miracles, New York: Harper and Row, Publisher.




1.         Progoff, I. (1992) At a journal workshop: Writing to access the power of the unconscious and evoke creative ability.  New York: The Putnam Publishing Group.




The objectives of this course will be accomplished through lectures, reading from suggested articles and texts, written assignments, group participation, and completion of pre and post surveys.  The student is expected to interact with the instructor and with other students who are taking this course.  This is a 3 credit hour course that will meet for12 weeks.  The class will meet for 1 1/2 hours a week.  The student will be given an incomplete at the end of 8 weeks and a grade will be posted 4 weeks later.   Lastly, the student will be post their assignments on  the  instructor’s  email site.  The address is   



There are a few statements that this author feels that needs to said about the rationale for this course and the difference between teaching spirituality and religion. Also, even though spirituality has historically a part of the holistic concept, spirituality is much more specific and includes religious concepts.  While there is support in occupational therapy literature to treat clients from a holistic perspective, spirituality in holistic health is broad and too generic is be helpful in the treatment process

Š      In today’s health care environment, patients are searching for expanded treatment options that incorporate new and innovative approaches.  Contemporary medicine has given little attention to the spiritual dimension of human experience despite its relevance to the fundamental goal of healing (Hiatt, 1986).  “”Periodically throughout history western medicine has reaffirmed the importance of treating the whole person.  Consideration of psychologic, biologic, social, spiritual, and environmental variables is included in every major system of medicine reflecting a basic awareness that health and illness are effected by all of them”(Hiatt, 1986,p736).

Š      An important area that is often overlooked by most practitioners relates to the person’s spiritual needs (Miller, 1990).  Historically, occupational therapists have been concerned with the care of the whole person –body-mind and spirit.  Illness is by its very nature a spiritual encounter as well as a physical and emotional experience.  Spirituality has been recognized as important in the treatment of alcoholism, depression, and aids (Grof, 1987; Prezioso, 1987; Sullivan, 1993). “Spirituality deals with the life principles that pervades and animates a person’s entire being, including emotional and volitional aspects of life” (Dombeck &Karl, 1987,page187).

Š      Every person can be understood to have a spiritual life, and while it may be occasionally be appropriate to refer certain religious issues of clients to clergy, spiritual concerns are a part of the concern for health and cannot be ignored by any professional in health care including occupational therapy (Barnitt, & Mayers, C, 1993).  The assumption is that spiritual care is a legitimate part of health care and that the spiritual needs of patients deserve attention from the entire health care team even though clergy persons have a specific and specialized role in this area.

Š      Occupational therapists report that spirituality is an important part of their daily job responsibilities and have difficulty integrated it into their treatment plan .  Therapist agree that their academic training did not prepare them and nor did their job.  The literature did not say that therapists were not prepared to treat clients from a holistic perspective, they were not prepared to deal with client’s spiritual needs. 

Š      Therefore, religious concepts are a part of spirituality.  The assessment discussed in this course the – “Multidimensional Measurement of Religiousness/Spirituality for Use in Health Research” is an assessment that purports to measure religiousness/spirituality domains that include daily spiritual experiences, meaning, values, beliefs, forgiveness, private religious practices, religious/spiritual coping, religious support, religious/spiritual history, commitment, organizational religiousness, religious preference. 

Š      It is not the intent that this course be a religious course, teaching religious dogma. Since 1925 the Supreme Court has entertained  growing number of cases which have to do with religion and education.  Ordinarily one does not have to be thoughtful of legal opinion and public sentiment or even the academic character of a subject when planning a curriculum. – religion is different from other subjects and activities.  Despite this difference, however some notable programs of study about religion have been developed.  If one can be academically successful as well as legally responsible, it is because they are developed as instruments for education of the public and not as vehicles for the practice of religion.  The academic study of religion, at the most basic level is a descriptive discipline that gathers and disseminates accurate information about religious beliefs and practices.  This course does not advocate religious dogma and is not promoting any religious institution.  If the reader will notice the course is about reviewing the literature and exploring knowledge (Engle, 1974; Gross, 1996).



Barnitt, r., & Mayers, c., (1993), Can occupational therapist be both humanists and Christians: A study of two conflicting frames of reference, British Journal of Religion and Health, 56, (3), page 84.

Dombeck, M., & Karl, J. (1987), Spiritual issues in mental health care, Journal of Religion and Health, 26, (3), page 183-197).

Engel, D. (1974), Religion, education and the law. In D.E. Engel (Ed.), Religion in public education,  pp.41-51, New York: Paulist Press.

Grof, S., (1987), Spirituality, addiction, and western Science, Revision 10, (2), page 18.

Gross, R. (1996). Feminism and religion, Boston: Beacon Press.

Hiatt, J., (1986), Spirituality, medicine, and healing, Southern Medical Journal, 79 (6), page 736-743.

Miller, J. (1990), Mental illness and spiritual crisis: Implications for psychiatric rehabilitation, Social Rehabilitation Journal, 14, (2), page 29-47.

Moody, H. & Carroll, D., (1997), The five stages of the soul,  New York: Doubleday.

Prezioso, F., (1987), Spirituality in the recovery process, Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 4, page 233-238.

Sullivan, W., (1993), “It helps me to be a whole person”: The role of spirituality among the mentally challenged, Psychosocial rehabilitation Journal, 16 (3), page 125-134.