Spiritual Well-Being Defined: A Study on Cognitive and Emotional Change through Spirituality-Based Intervention

A Study on the Efficacy of Non-Faith-Based Spiritual Intervention

Spiritual Well-Being Defined: A Study on Cognitive and Emotional Change through Spirituality-Based Intervention
Spiritual Well-Being Defined: A Study on Cognitive and Emotional Change through Spirituality-Based Intervention
September 11, 2023
Research and Insights

Spiritual Well-Being Defined: A Study on Cognitive and Emotional Change through Spirituality-Based Intervention

It's a common misconception that people link spiritual well-being to a particular sect of spiritual teaching, ideology, or religion. In effect, spiritual well-being is actually more about finding meaning and purpose in life. It’s about connecting with something bigger than ourselves.

An increasing number of studies suggest that spiritual well-being plays a huge role in preventing major depression in adults. It can also aid in its recovery. These studies highlight the higher percentage of those who are religiously involved tend to experience fewer depressive symptoms. Not only that, but they recover faster if they struggle with a depressive disorder compared with those who aren’t as involved in religion.

However, there are also individuals suffering from depression who don’t necessarily adhere to a particular religion. As such, one program, in particular, was crafted for this reason and a study was conducted to understand the nature of the observed mood following the participation in this program.

Research on How Spirituality Benefits Mental Health

It’s true that multiple studies have hypothesized how spirituality benefits mental health, but a few theories have been made around this idea. The most popular is that religion, aka spirituality, can act as a coping mechanism in times of illness, loss, and grief.

One study by Hedelin and Strandmark suggests that religion and spirituality address the hardship of depression by reducing the feeling of isolation. It makes patients feel less separated from their surrounding world. It also bridges the gap some may feel with others as well as with their inner self.

Other researchers propose a different way of looking at it. They suggest that a sense of spiritual well-being is central to our existence. It’s what brings meaning into our lives by helping us connect with something bigger than ourselves.

These studies also show how spirituality can offset negative feelings of hopelessness, boredom, and emptiness. In addition, it also has a positive impact on the overall health and well-being of individuals and empowers them with the coping skills they need to live a fulfilling, well-balanced lifestyle.

Integrating Spirituality into Psychotherapy Approaches

There have been various experimental outcome studies that investigated the use of faith-focused psychotherapy approaches to treat depression. These studies were predominantly developed for patients of the Christian and Muslim faith.

The main focus of the studies was to gauge the benefit of incorporating scripture texts and prayer into therapy sessions. Their findings indicate that faith-based therapy approaches are highly effective. They’ve also been shown to achieve equal or even higher positive effects than secular psychotherapy treatments.

In response to these studies, psychotherapists have started incorporating their clients’ spiritual beliefs into their psychotherapy approach.

Developing a Non-Faith-Based Spiritual Intervention Program

While the studies mentioned above show the benefits of incorporating spiritual teachings into therapy sessions, not everyone is religious or spiritual. As such, adding this spiritual aspect of the treatment needs to apply to a broad spectrum of the population so that it appeals to more patients who aren’t necessarily bound by a particular religion or sect.

What Is Non-Faith-Based Spiritual Intervention?

This non-faith-based spiritual intervention was originally developed by Dr. Badri Rickhi. A renowned psychiatrist and research chair at the Canadian Institute of Natural and Integrative Medicine (CINIM), Dr. Rickhi designed an 8-week self-study spirituality teaching program.

The program is designed specifically for adults diagnosed with major depression of mild to moderate severity.

What Does Non-Faith-Based Spiritual Intervention Comprise?

Dr. Rickhi’s unique mindfulness-based program aims at nurturing spiritual growth by addressing spiritual concepts common to both Western and Eastern traditions. Some of the concepts found in the program include the search for a meaning or purpose in life, empathy, compassion, acceptance, forgiveness, and connectedness.

Delivered via audio CDs, the program is made up of eight weeks of 15-minute daily visualization exercises that bring out moments of tranquility and self-reflection. They also include lectures and stories about spirituality along with some suggested behavioral applications.

Intended as a form of relaxation practice, the overall program is designed to help the user understand the developmental role of spirituality in their daily lives to prevent and treat depressive disorders.

A Study on the Efficacy of Non-Faith-Based Spiritual Intervention

Through a study carried out on 84 depressive individuals who came from a variety of diverse spiritual affiliations, CINIM assessed the value of this program. These individuals were placed into two groups: a spirituality teaching program group and a waitlist control group.

The study was funded by Alberta Innovates, a government-based corporation that helps companies, entrepreneurs, and researchers build and advance in a wide range of industries. It was also funded by a handful of private donors. As such, the authors of the study were completely impartial and had no competing interests.

Outcome Measures

The study was conducted through a series of in-depth, semi-structured interviews with each participant of the program six months after its completion.

The interviews were audio recorded, then transcribed verbatim. Researchers used this data to decode patterns of substantive core meanings in the participants’ behavioral and subjective experiences through materials in the program.

The Findings

The authors of this study found that the men and women who completed Dr. Rickhi’s spirituality teaching program showed a heightened sense of spiritual awareness through the connection with self, others, and universal energy. They also showed signs of having a deeper sense of meaning and purpose in life through cognitive and emotional change.

These changes were brought along as a result of practicing forgiveness, compassion, and acceptance in their daily lives. They also practiced gratitude, which helped reduce negative ego-centric thought patterns. It also made the participants less judgmental of others and enjoy renewed confidence and improved self-esteem.

Concurrent with these shifts in emotions and thought patterns, participants showed a significant difference in depressive severity changes, response, and remission rates. They experienced elevated moods, reduced anxiety and depression, calmness, and a sense of mental clarity. Many also stated they noticed an improvement in their relationships with family and friends.


In conclusion, it was found that the spirituality teaching program devised by Dr. Badri Rickhi provided new perspectives to individuals suffering from depressive symptoms. It also provided a sense of spiritual connection that led to mood improvements in depressed individuals.

According to the program’s subsequent study, this non-faith-based spiritual intervention comprised spiritual perspectives suitable for a broad spectrum of practices and beliefs. Thus, it was deduced that these practices and beliefs are worthy of continued development.

For more information, check out the study in full detail.