Spirituality is a therapeutic form that is often ignored, but yet plays an important part in all forms of healing. The body and the spirit are inseparable until death. Complementary medicine recognizes this importance.
Although largely banished from traditional science and medicine, it is still recognized by some that the mind or spirit of an individual can determine life or death, sickness or health. Nurses began to lead the way in educating others to the importance of cultural and personal beliefs in the healing process. They are generally the first to observe that, when a patient is denied his/her personal expression of belief, healing stagnates and often deteriorates.
Since time began, all cultures have had close ties with spirituality and the healing process. In many religious communities of the world today, this tie remains. The sick still seek out their own medicine men, shamans, ministers, rabbis, priests, witch doctors, and holy men of every description for their cure, while at the same time, consulting a traditional medical source. Sadly, one form is too often jealously guarded, demanding exclusion of the other, but, ultimately, it is the combination of both that is successful.
Spirituality is often used synonymously with religion. Religion is an outward expression of spiritual responses encased in traditional beliefs and practices. Spirituality is individual and often transcends the traditionally accepted. Both need to be recognized in order to benefit the patient as a whole.
In recent years, the National Institute for Healthcare Research has conducted many reviews and has come to the conclusion that spirituality must become part of the curriculum in the nation’s leading medical schools.