Why would a doctor ask about spiritual practices? (Part 1 of 5)

Guest blogger, Laurie A. Tone LMFT, LPC, MHSP, served six years as Siloam Family Health Center’s behavioral health consultant. Today, she starts of series of blogs on the body-mind-spirit connectedness.

Laurie writes…

In further discussion about whole person care, Physician jotting notes with patientsome might find it rather odd that a medical doctor would be interested in a patient’s spirituality. One might even ask isn’t that for the church or other faith practice?  At Siloam Family Health Center clinicians are used to addressing the whole person – the physical, emotional, spiritual and social areas of a patient’s life.

In fact, it’s often the spiritual dimensions of one’s life that help guide decisions to care for his or her body. In the Christian faith, the body is considered the temple of the Holy Spirit (I Corinthians 6:19-20). Christians are encouraged to be good stewards of the life they have been given and to live in a way that glorifies God and that includes how one cares for him or herself.

Spiritual beliefs may help govern eating and sleeping patterns, rest or Sabbath, as well as exercise habits. Spiritual practices can also determine how one spends money or time, or who one chooses to socialize with and how. Every one of these areas can have a profound influence on health.

Spiritual beliefs often guide decisions on what type of medical care to pursue. Attitudes and compliance with medications or other medical advice is also influenced by underlying spirituality.

Spiritual practices can often lead to a disciplined life of fasting and prayer, which can strengthen the body, mind and soul. Many choices to abstain from unhealthy practices such as tobacco, alcohol or drug abuse are governed by deeply held spiritual convictions.

The Christian faith also reminds us we live in a fallen world subject to sin, disease and disorders. Faith can help make sense of any physical diseases in light of what God’s word teaches. Faith can help patients face physical ailments with hope and trust in God’s sovereignty, grace and love.

Spirituality encompasses all we are and do. Spirituality and health are delicately intertwined and impossible to separate out.

Check back in a few days to review a case study (Part 2 of this 5 part series).

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