The Shifting Sands of Spirituality: Treatment and Ethics of Changing Beliefs

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Target Audience

Social workers, psychologists, licensed professional counselors, educators, school personnel, mental health professionals, clinicians, health and human service practitioners, and other health care professionals.


Numerous studies indicate that patients who practice religion and spirituality are protected from mental illness and show heightened ability to cope with stress. However, what happens when a person’s core beliefs change?

In the last decade, organized religion has seen a steady decline in congregations—as much as 10% within just a few years and as much as 40% since the 1990’s. Although this is most true among younger people, churches have seen a notable decrease in all age groups. Increasingly more people identify as non-affiliated and choose to claim spiritual rather than religious beliefs, while those who continue to attend church regularly also report significantly changing beliefs. For example, in several studies, many Christians have blended their beliefs to report that up to 40% now believe in reincarnation—a concept once seen as taboo within the faith.

When it comes to healthcare, 95% of patients report a desire to discuss spiritual beliefs and concerns with their healthcare providers, but less than 5% do. Historically, healers were spiritual in nature before becoming stewards to physical health. It appears as if the changing beliefs of patients may require providers to step back in time to acknowledge this key aspect of the human condition.

This one-day workshop is designed for healthcare providers of all professions – medical, psychological, allied health, and even administrators who need an update and comprehensive understanding of the shifting sands of spirituality and how this may impact patient healthcare. Physical health is only one aspect of the constellation of health components, but when a patient experiences a spiritual or religious crisis, it often affects their overall well-being. This workshop explores the trends in changing beliefs, discusses ethical considerations, and provides a comprehensive model of care that puts spirituality back into the soul of health.

Model Description
Although physical health remains the first priority for treatment within medical settings, one cannot deny that other components of health play an integral role in overall care. The Soul (Whole) Health Model was developed to illustrate the complex interplay between the 10 key components of health and our ongoing quest for overall well-being. This model is particularly helpful in understanding the impact of sexual trauma on a person’s life.

(Figure 1. The Soul Health Model illustrates the complex interplay between the Human Condition and our Soul. Similar to a tree, our soul “reaches” toward its optimal growth and is dependent on key available elements. The “elements” of the Human Condition provide for the soul’s growth. When just one branch is broken, the rest of the tree suffers, and in this case, the soul’s growth is impeded.)

As depicted in the Soul Health Model, the branches of the tree represent 10 primary aspects of the human condition which must be in balance for the soul (simply put—the “essence of who we are”) to grow and evolve—and for us to feel like we are flourishing in our everyday human lives. Each branch is only one key to our overall sense of wholeness or “Soul Health”. When one branch, such as the sexual health branch, is damaged, the entirety of the tree is very likely to suffer. The model emphasizes that when one branch is ‘broken’ it is impossible for the rest of the tree to remain unaffected. Even one unhealthy branch can have a traumatic impact on the soul’s overall health.

This workshop provides spiritual assessments to assist practitioners in providing comprehensive care to patients. While this topic can be uncomfortable to address, this model provides patients with a blueprint to address changing believes and rebalance their lives for optimal health.

Brief Outline for Workshop:
The morning session will include full exploration of the Soul (Whole) Health Model with respect to changing beliefs and the impact on overall health. A “Soul Health Assessment” will be provided to help practitioners assess the extent of disturbance to a person’s overall well-being, which guides them in treatment and referral to other professionals. The second portion of the day will apply the model in the assessment and treatment of:
• Spiritual/religious crisis and impact on overall health,
• Exploration of changing beliefs in the United States,
• Emotional impact of changing beliefs (anxiety, depression, adjustment, and other psychological dis-ease),
• Ethical considerations for addressing spiritual/religious concerns,
• Return to overall well-being and health

Suggestions will also be provided for integration of the model into treatment teams as well as in patient education strategies.

Katherine T. Kelly, Ph.D., M.S.P.H.

Dr. Katherine Kelly is a clinical health psychologist, author, and speaker who was named the “Pioneer of Soul Health” after the publication of her book Soul Health: Aligning with Spirit for Radiant Living (revised second edition released May 2018). She has taught in two major medical schools, received specialized training from the Mind-Body Medical Institute of Harvard University, and also holds a master’s of science degree in Public Health. Dr. Kelly has made over 300 radio and television appearances and is a frequent contributor to health, wellness, and spiritual magazines. She teaches classes and workshops to both the public and professionals around the country and is soon to release her second book, The Recipe for Radiance: Mastering the Art (and SOUL) of Self-Care in spring of 2019. Her website is

Credit Information

Charlotte AHEC has been approved by NBCC as an Approved Continuing Education Provider, ACEP No. 5096. Programs that do not qualify for NBCC credit are clearly identified. Charlotte AHEC is solely responsible for all aspects of the program.


  • Identify New trends in spiritual and religious beliefs among the American public,
  • Discuss methods for integrating spirituality into patient care,
  • Assess changing beliefs and their impact on your patient population,
  • Assess patients using a “Whole Health” approach to patient care,
  • Provide and explore examples of various psychological, physical, and psychosomatic concerns that lend well to an spiritually-rich psychotherapy and medical approach.
  • List suggestions for aligning with spiritually-based professionals in order to provide a comprehensive and team-based approach to a client’s overall care.
  • Encourage practitioners to address personal biases to provide ethical care to patients


Kelly T Blasky, MPH, 704-512-6529


Sep 20, 2019
9:00 AM - 4:30 PM
Check-In Time
9:00 AM
6.00 - Contact Hours (category A) CE for NC Psychologists
0.60 - CEU
6.00 - Contact Hours
6.00 - NBCC Hours
Charlotte AHEC
Classroom 14
Sep 20, 2019
9:00 AM - 4:30 PM
Charlotte AHEC
Classroom 14
Contact Hours
Contact Hours (category A) CE for NC Psychologists
NBCC Hours