According to a 2010 Gallup poll, 92 percent of Americans believe in God. A recent study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology finds that may lead to less worry and anxiety.
For some, those findings may not be completely surprising. But what are the wider implications for the field of mental health?
David Rosmarin, Ph.D., the study's lead author and an assistant in psychology at McLean Hospital, believes mental health professionals should take a patient's spiritual background into more consideration and even incorporate it into treatment when appropriate.
After all, psychology continues to evolve.
"Fifty years ago,we [mental health professionals] didn't ask patients about pain or sexual abuse. Now that's an important part of the intake process," Rosmarin said.
But how and when should mental health professionals ask about a patient's spiritual background? And if a patient doesn't believe in God, are they doomed to suffer from more anxiety?
Dr. Andrew Newberg, M.D., the author of "Principles of Neurotheology" has scanned the brains of chanting Sikhs, meditating Buddhists and praying nuns, all in an effort to understand the relationship between the brain and religious experience. His research examines what happens to the brain during the act of prayer or meditation and how that experience can physically shape the brain. He has studied the effects of meditating and praying on the brain.
Is there room for God on the couch? Should there be?
- Dr. Andrew Newberg, M.D., director of research, Myrna Brind Center for Integrative Medicine, Thomas Jefferson University Hospital and Medical College; author, “Principles of Neurotheology”
- Dr. David Rosmarin, Ph.D., assistant in psychology, McLean Hospital; lead author, "Incorporating Spiritual Beliefs Into a Cognitive Model of Worry"
- Commonhealth: Does God Make You Worry Less?
This segment aired on August 24, 2011.