‘Beyond Boundaries or Best Practice’ Prayer in Clinical Mental Health Care: Opinions of Professionals and Patients

Op 27 september 2020 verscheen in Religions een artikel van Joke van Nieuw Amerongen-Meeuse, Arjan Braam, Christa Anbeek en Hanneke Schaap-Jonker. Dit wetenschappelijke artikel hoort bij het onderzoek 'Geloof in behandeling'.

The use of prayer in mental health care is controversial. Several scholars in the field have emphasized possibilities, whereas others have expressed clear disapproval. The aim of the current study was to describe opinions about prayer of mental health professionals (MHPs) and patients in a Christian (CC) and a secular (SC) mental health clinic.

Content analysis was applied to 35 patient interviews and 18 interviews with MHPs. Most of the nurses in both clinics were open to the possible use of prayer, frequently argued by assisting patients in case of inability, but also by personal belief in its potency. Practitioners in both clinics were sometimes reticent or reluctant towards prayer. In the CC the nurses practiced prayer regularly, but all of them mentioned preconditions (like a similar outlook on life) and patients were stimulated to pray themselves. All patients in the CC and most of the patients in the SC had no objections against prayer and tended to focus on the benefits, like tranquility and relief. Prayer in mental health care could be practiced, especially by nurses, in cases of inability of patients, when considered beneficial and when a similar religious background is present.