How rehabilitation professionals define and use religion and spirituality in practice
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This qualitative study explored how rehabilitation professionals defined and used religion and spirituality in rehabilitation practice. Fifteen rehabilitation professionals with at least three years of experience working with individuals with disabilities were interviewed. The first question, ‘How do you define spirituality?’ resulted in three themes: 1) spirituality is personal; 2) spirituality is internal; and 3) spirituality is connection to self, God and others. The second question ‘How do you define religion?’ yielded three themes: 1) religion is external; 2) religion is about rules, rituals, and rites; and 3) religion is organized and institutional. The third question was posed to determine if and how rehabilitation professionals utilized religious or spiritual strategies in practice and what these strategies were. Four themes emerged: 1) they did not use spiritual or religious strategies; 2) they used strategies to benefit self; 3) they used the strategies to benefit the clients; and 4) they used a multitude of strategies with and without the client’s presence or permission. Research results suggested that initially when participants were directly asked whether they used the spiritual or religious strategies, they denied their use and they went through a process of gaining insight that they indeed practiced these strategies in practice but relabeled them. This renaming appeared related to fear of offending others or getting into trouble around the issue of church and state. Fourteen of the respondents would like to have more training on the subject and feel it should be a part of professional training.