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Spiritual Assessment & Counseling Trauma Survivors

Completing a set of scales is not always the best way to assess spirituality at the beginning of psychotherapy. Nevertheless, I agree with others (e.g., Richards, et al., 2015; Worthington et al., 1996) that the assessment of spirituality is important to counseling and psychotherapy because so many people report that their faith is important to them and many prefer to receive psychotherapy from someone who shares their faith or at least respects their faith.

The assessment of spirituality in the context of psychotherapy should also be in the context of other assessment such as within the SCOPES model where spirituality, if important to a patient, is usually a part of the self-identity and interconnected with their emotions, thoughts, social relationships, and personality (See the SCOPES model for details).

In this post, I will review suggestions from Richards et al. (2015) and include a link to other posts containing measures from which clinicians can draw questions to use in clinical work or practice-based assessment.

Early questions to ask (pp. 82-83)

“Is religion or spirituality important in your life?”

“Do you wish to discuss religious or spiritual issues during counseling?” 

“Are you aware of any religious or spiritual resources in your life that could be used to help you?” 

“How do you think your spirituality can help you in your therapy goals?”

Trauma related questions p. 83

The authors suggest additional questions related to the presenting trauma. The questions are adapted by the clinician to fit with the patient's narrative of the traumatic experience.

“How do you feel this traumatic experience has affected your spiritual and religious life?” 

“Did this trauma cause any spiritual damage in your life?” 

“Has this trauma caused any confusion, questions, or changes in your religious or spiritual beliefs?” 

“What kind of spiritual needs do you have now in the aftermath of this trauma?”

How spirituality helps p. 84

Richards et al. remind readers that trauma does not always weaken faith. Spirituality can be helpful. Here are some related questions.

“What are some of your spiritual strengths that you still have, even after this traumatic experience?” 

“In what ways has your religious community and/or your spiritual beliefs helped you cope with the trauma you have experienced?” 

“What are some of the spiritual resources in your life that can help you recover?”

Cite this post:

Sutton, G. W. (2022, April 25). Spiritual assessment & counseling trauma survivors. Statistics. SuttonG. Retrieved from

Link to Spirituality Questionnaires


Richards, P. S., Hardman, R. K., Lea, T., & Berrett, M. E. (2015). Religious and spiritual assessment of trauma survivors. In Spiritually oriented psychotherapy for trauma. (pp. 77–102). American Psychological Association. 

  Book Link 

Sutton, G. W. (2022, April 25). Spiritual assessment & counseling trauma survivors. Statistics. SuttonG. Retrieved from

Worthington, E. L. Jr., Kurusu, T. A., McCullough, M. E., & Sanders, S. J. (1996). Empirical research on religion and psychotherapeutic processes and outcomes: A ten-year review and research prospectus. Psychological Bulletin, 119, 448–487. doi:10.1037/0033-2909.119.3.448

Related book by  Psychologist Jamie Aten


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