Assessing Afterlife Beliefs in Psychotherapy

  • Beth Christopherson, LCSW
  • Julie Beischel, PhD Windbridge Research Center

Abstract

Afterlife beliefs are common, may affect health outcomes, and are relevant to clients’ relationships. Unfortunately, these beliefs are generally neglected in the psychospiritual literature and in most published religion and spirituality (RS) tools and assessments. Here, an afterlife assessment guide is introduced that incorporates the recommended two-phase RS assessment approach and provides introductory guidelines for mental health professionals (MHPs) to competently assess and address afterlife beliefs and spiritual experiences in the psychotherapy setting. The SRRT consists of sets of sample questions organized around four concepts (Significance, Relationships, Resources, and Treatment). It can be used by MHPs to determine if any afterlife beliefs or experiences of significance may be impacting the client’s well-being or relationships; the MHP can then assess possible afterlife-related resources and tailor specific forms of treatment. The development of the SRRT was informed by current bereavement models, trauma-informed approaches, and ethical practice guidelines for MHPs. Ideally, the SRRT will also serve as an initial resource for MHPs to collaborate and reach consensus regarding assessing and addressing afterlife beliefs and spiritual experiences.

Author Biographies

Beth Christopherson, LCSW

Beth Christopherson is a licensed clinical social worker and psychotherapist in private practice in Houston, TX. She is a frequent speaker at universities and medical schools, presenting on a variety of issues that affect well-being. One of her interests is how mental health professionals can ethically assess and address afterlife beliefs in the psychotherapy setting. Beth has published articles in Social Work Today on the topic of spirituality in the mental health setting.

Julie Beischel, PhD, Windbridge Research Center

Julie Beischel received her doctorate in Pharmacology and Toxicology with a minor in Microbiology and Immunology from the University of Arizona in 2003. She previously served as Director of Research at the Windbridge Institute, LLC (2008-2017) and is currently Director of Research at the Windbridge Research Center, an Arizona non-profit corporation. She uses her interdisciplinary training to apply the scientific method to controversial topics. Dr. Beischel's research mainly focuses on people who report experiencing regular communication with the deceased (mediums) and those who receive mediumship readings (sitters); specifically, the accuracy and specificity of the information mediums report; their experiences, psychology, and physiology; and the potential social applications of mediumship readings. She is the author of the e-books Among MediumsMeaningful Messages, and From the Mouths of Mediums and the author of the paperback book Investigating Mediums.

Published
2018-12-28
How to Cite
CHRISTOPHERSON, Beth; BEISCHEL, Julie. Assessing Afterlife Beliefs in Psychotherapy. Threshold: Journal of Interdisciplinary Consciousness Studies, [S.l.], v. 2, n. 1, p. 50-74, dec. 2018. ISSN 2575-2510. Available at: <http://www.tjics.org/index.php/TJICS/article/view/29>. Date accessed: 19 june 2019.