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Barb Hemphill, DMin, OTR/L, FAOTA


Spirituality is recognized as an important concept in the study and practice of medicine, including occupational therapy. This aligns with occupational therapy’s core value of treating people holistically—mind, body, and spirit. Currently, the Joint Commission for the Accreditation of Hospital Organizations (JCAHO) requires that a spiritual assessment be given to patients on admission. To conduct effective spiritual assessments, occupational therapists must distinguish between religion and spirituality. They also must be aware of their own spiritual beliefs and practices and how those might influence their clinical interactions. This article presents spiritual assessment tools that occupational therapists can use in clinical practice; they range from history taking, to questionnaires, to observation scales. Guidelines are presented for selecting among several spiritual assessments. A case study is presented in which a patient’s faith tradition is being challenged, which could affect the outcome of therapy. Finally, treatment and intervention planning and ethical considerations are discussed.