Religion and spirituality as troublesome knowledge: The views and experiences of mental health social workers in Northern Ireland

Patricia Carlisle*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Over the past twenty years, interest in religion and spirituality within social work practice has grown internationally. Whilst the social work profession in the UK is criticised for being reluctant to engage with spirituality, there are signs of some interest around the subject. Furthermore, greater recognition is being given to the role of religion and spirituality within mental health recovery. However, the subject is significantly under examined within research and policy in Northern Ireland (NI). Whilst the qualitative study upon which this article is based explored mental health service users' and social workers' views and experiences about religion, spirituality and mental distress, this article focuses upon analysis of social worker participants' accounts. This article considers religion and spirituality as troublesome knowledge within social work practice in NI. Analysis indicates that questions of legitimacy surround this aspect of social work practice and mental well-being. This qualitative study drew upon narrative theory and grounded theory. Twelve mental health service users and twelve mental health social workers were interviewed and half of the participants from each group also took part in a follow-up telephone interview. All of the participants were invited to bring an object which expressed, if anything, what religion and spirituality meant to them.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)583-598
JournalBritish Journal of Social Work
Volume46
Issue number3
Early online date25 Aug 2015
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 01 Apr 2016
Externally publishedYes

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