In many ways, it is easy to find context and maintain a healing presence when the person you are working with has already identified ways that they would like to enhance their wellness. A clear, oversimplified example of this would be someone who is pre-diabetic asking for salutogenic inputs they can implement. The client, in their resoluteness, is already on the path to wellness.
Spiritual wellness is a wellness input that I initially did now see how I could work with a person on. Initially in my mind I thought, “Well, they are either spiritual or they aren’t.” I realize now this was me superimposing my narrative over these concepts.
One method of measuring spiritual wellness is the Life Attitude Profile, which was designed as a “multidimensional measure designed to assess the degree of existential meaning and purpose in life and the strength of motivation to find meaning and purpose” (Recker and Peacock, 1981). Understanding what this profile was designed to assess, offers insight into what is meant by spiritual wellness. Clients who are facing terminal diagnoses and yet have made some degree of peace with their own mortality can be well in this dimension even though they are biophysically unhealthy.
I initially was at a loss on how to potentially discuss this wellness input with people living in a society that is facing increasing secularization coupled with acute sectarian perspectives on religion that are frequently in open conflict somewhere on the globe. Until I realized that “spirituality” has nothing to do with any of that. Spirituality in a wellness context can be more aptly describe as having a sense of purpose and meaning in life and relating to illness from the perspective of a journey or quest.
Within my social network, I have recently had many friends who were diagnosed with terminal or “Incurable” neurologic disorders. Many of those friends began to exhibit behaviors that might indicate a need for support in the area of spiritual wellness. These include no sense of purpose, and adopting a chaos perspective when dealing with illness. Based on one model, (Westgate, 1996) someone who sees no meaning in life, has no intrinsic values, refuses to acknowledge their capacity for transcendence, and has no spiritual community needs support in the spiritual dimension of wellness.
I still a beginner when it comes to discussing the spiritual dimension of wellness with people. But I think, that being able to see how a narrative contributes to this dimension is a big step and a necessary one in being an instrument for change.
Knutson, L., (2013)
Snow, J., (2011). Understanding Wellness
Reker, G., & Peacock, E. (1981) The Life Attitude Profile (LAP): A multidimensional instrument for assessing attitudes toward life. Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science/Revue Canadienne Des Sciences Du Comportement, 264-273. doi:10.1037/h0081178
Westgate, C. E. (1996). Spiritual wellness and depression. Journal of Counseling and Development, 75: 26-35. DOI: 10.1002/j.1556-6676.1996.tb02311.x