A Holistic Approach to Mental Health
Carrier Clinic®, an NJ psychiatric hospital and recovery center, is dedicated to holistic well-being – mental, physical and spiritual – so our patients experience better health overall. Long recognized for its protective role in physical health, spiritual wellness offers potentially positive effects within the context of mental illness, addiction, and cognitive functioning. Carrier Clinic addresses spiritual health through comprehensive offerings embracing expressive arts, meditation, spiritual traditions, and faith-based interventions – all geared toward each individual’s preferred approach.
An integral part of our spirituality-centered supportive therapy, Carrier Clinic’s Pastoral Care Department offers guidance to help patients reap the benefits of their individual spirituality. Led by Stephen Faller, a Chaplain who is ordained by the United Methodist Church, certified by the Association of Professional Chaplains and certified by the College of Pastoral Supervision and Psychotherapy both as a Clinical Chaplain and a Supervisor of Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) programs, Pastoral Care provides spirituality groups at Carrier Clinic® and East Mountain Hospital, as well as one-to-one spiritual counsel as requested.
Working closely with the clinical care team, Chaplain Faller and a dedicated group of spiritual volunteers and CPE interns provide faith-based services to meet the spiritual needs of patients who choose to participate. As Director of Clinical Social Services Mindy Altschul, LCSW points out, “for many people, spirituality rests with religious conviction; for others, religion can be a jumping-off point; and for others, spiritual wellness has little or nothing to do with religious belief.” Carrier Clinic® respects each patient’s individual choice in this matter and provides opportunities to access spirituality in a variety of ways on a day-to-day basis. Patients may, and the majority do, choose to participate in meditation, church services, visits from their religious leaders, dance/movement therapy, journaling, music therapy, yoga, and our well-attended Spirituality Group.
How Spirituality Benefits Mental Health
Religion and spiritual practices can provide resources to neutralize negative emotional experiences and increase positive ones. This can include finding meaningful answers to existential questions (why am I here? What is the purpose of suffering?), as well as a sense of control over distressing events through prayer, meditation, or ritual. Further, religious doctrine usually includes socially positive codes of conduct, leading to less maladaptive behaviors and resultant mental or physical distress. Finally, the pro-social aspect of many religious and spiritual traditions provides a greater sense of community and support – factors that play an enormous role in maintaining overall health.
Ms. Altschul credits spiritual care with giving Carrier Clinic’s patients “a sense of forgiveness, a sense of inner peace, and a sense that they are not in trouble with their God–their Higher Power–for experiencing depression, mood disorders, or addiction.” She points out that “for so many of our patients, there is tremendous angst and guilt over feelings of suicidality, feelings of letting God down, or continued alcohol and drug use, and spiritual care becomes a very important piece in forgiving themselves, moving forward and understanding God as an accepting entity.”
Support to Growing Evidence of Advantages of Spiritual Healing
Recent research indicates a strong correlation between spiritual wellness and overall health, including studies published by the American Cancer Society, the Nephrology Nursing Journal, and BioMed Research International. For the BioMed study, which addressed cognitive decline in aging patients, a team of researchers from Northeastern University and other prestigious organizations found that 95% of study participants who reported spiritual satisfaction benefited by that spiritual wellness which played a protective role with respect to cognitive decline.
At Carrier Clinic, the whole self-benefits from well-rounded opportunities for healing. We provide state-of-the-art mental health and addiction treatment, nutritious meals and physical activity, and access to spiritual care services for the most effective holistic approach to wellness. Integrating mental, physical, and spiritual care gives our patients access to the full breadth of healing, a better outlook, and true inner peace.