APA Statement On Psychiatry & Religion

I. Psychiatrists should maintain respect for their patients' beliefs.


A. It is useful for clinicians to obtain information on the religious or ideologic orientation and beliefs of their patients so that they may properly attend to them in the course of treatment.


B. If an unexpected conflict arises in relation to such beliefs, it should be handled with a concern for the patient's vulnerability to the attitudes of the psychiatrist. Empathy for the patient's sensibilities and particular beliefs is essential 


C. Interpretations that concern a patient's beliefs should be made in a context of empathic respect for their value and meaning to the patient.



II. Psychiatrists should not impose their own religious, antireligious, or ideologic systems of beliefs on their patients, nor should they substitute such beliefs for accepted diagnostic concepts or therapeutic practice.


A. No practitioner should force a specific religious, antireligious, or ideologic agenda on a patient or work to see that the patient adopts such an agenda.


B. Religious concepts or ritual should not be offered as a substitute for accepted diagnostic concepts or therapeutic practice.


[Amercian Psychiatric Association. Guidelines regarding possible conflict between psychiatrists' religious commitment and psychiatric practice. American Journal of Psychiatry, 1990 Apr; 147(4):542]