Mental Health and Spirituality


People’s religious and spiritual beliefs are deeply intertwined with their mental and emotional health. Population surveys show that over 70% of people identify their religion as the key orienting principle of their lives, and most people rely on their religion or spirituality to cope with stress, depression, and anxiety. In addition, many people experiencing mental health symptoms and their family members seek help initially (and on an ongoing basis) from a clergy person.

Mental health professionals are seeing an ever-increasing variety of spiritual and religious beliefs and practices among their clients, and clergy members, pastoral counselors, and spiritual teachers are dealing with a wide array of mental health issues among their communities. Both can benefit from learning more about the interplay of spirituality and mental health, and from learning to work collaboratively for the benefit of their mutual clients/parishioners. This seminar is grounded upon insights gained from empirical research on the role of religion in psychological wellbeing and suffering, experience of expert presenters in the fields of psychology and religion; and promotes respectful interchange from members of this interdisciplinary seminar. Evidence-based skills related to clinical and spiritual practice will be presented.


Peter Goldblum, Ph.D., MPH

Professor Emeritus and past Director of Clinical Training at the Pacific Graduate School of Psychology at Palo Alto University

Rev. D. Mark Wilson, Ph.D.

Past Assistant Professor of Congregational Leadership, Pacific School of Religion and Former Pastor of McGee Avenue Baptist Church, in Berkeley California

Cassandra Vieten, Ph.D.

President of the Institute of Noetic Sciences and scientist at the Mind-Body Medicine Research Group at California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute.


Pastors, mental health providers, and graduate students will learn to identify the spiritual and mental health needs of members of their community and learn to work together to provide sensitive and effective care.

*Are you a student or pastor and interested in attending?  Let us know by sending us an email.  You may be eligible for a discounted rate.  Limited quantities available, inquire today:


This six week, six-session online course will consist of experiential exercises and group discussion. It will focus on worldviews, knowledge, and skills that healthcare practitioners, clergy, spiritual directors, and others can apply in their work with patients, clients, and congregants who are experiencing religious/spiritual struggles, or mental health challenges, or both.

Additional opportunities are available (but not required) to design a grassroots project focused on mental health and spirituality in a context of one’s own choosing. Seminar faculty will serve as guides to accompany students who select to participate with their community project.

One of the proposal submissions may receive a Wisdom Grant up to $2000 that will support the implementation of their proposed project.

Recipients of Wisdom Grants will also travel to campus to present at the Center’s annual Wisdom Conference.


Mental Health and Spirituality Courses
Learning Objectives:

By the end of this course students will be able to discuss:

  • how religious and spiritual beliefs and practices are important to psychological health and well-being
  • how religious and spiritual diversity can be effectively addressed in mental health care, and how it intersects with other forms of diversity
  • best practices for clergy and spiritual directors in dealing with mental health issues, ways for clergy/spiritual directors and mental health professionals to better collaborate to foster wellness in their patients and congregants

Licensed Psychologists taking this seminar will be able to:

  • articulate how religious and spiritual beliefs and practices are important to psychological health and well-being.
  • discuss  how religious and spiritual diversity can be effectively addressed in mental health care, and how it intersects with other forms of diversity
  • apply a social-ecological map to a religious/mental health problem to identify resources within your community
  • identify and discuss common religious/spiritual and mental health intersections and barriers to collaboration between psychologists and clergy
  • distinguish between spiritual struggles and psychological conditions
  • apply basic assessment skills to determine clients’ current spiritual/religious involvement and impact on mental health issues

Number of CEU Hours 9

American Psychological Association: Spiritual Competency Resource Center is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. Spiritual Competency Resource Center maintains responsibility for its programs and their content. California Board of Behavioral Sciences accepts CE credits for license renewal by LCSWs and MFTs for programs from CE approved sponsors of the American Psychological Association. LCSWs and MFTs from states other than California need to check with their state licensing board for approval. California Board of Registered Nursing (BRN Provider CEP16887) for licensed nurses in California. For questions about these CE accreditations, visit or contact David Lukoff, PhD at (707) 763-3576 or


Continuing Education Units (CEUs) are available to Pastors, Pastor Counselor, Nurses, and Chaplains whose certifying agencies or organizations require CE hours. To determine whether or not your seminar qualifies for CEUs, please consult with your agency.