Spirituality in the Medical Encounter: The Grace of Presence

Spirituality in the Medical Encounter: The Grace of Presence

Elizabeth Sutherland, ND

Summer 2005 - Volume 9 Number 3


It is easy to think of spirituality as a domain that is distinctly separate from the practice of medicine. If spirituality is considered to have a place in the medical setting at all, it is usually envisioned as a discussion between doctor and patient where the doctor gingerly approaches the topic of the patient's religious beliefs to better assess the patient's available social support. Sometimes, this discussion takes place when the doctor feels s/he has reached the limits of medical knowledge and doesn't know what else to do, as with a patient facing the diagnosis of a terminal disease or other life crisis. The goal of the discussion may then be to refer the patient to a chaplain or other religious expert.

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