Navigating the Minefield: A Model for Integrating Religion and Spirituality in Social Work Practice with Service Members and Veterans


Social Work

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Integrating religion and spirituality in social work practice with service members and veterans is akin to metaphorically "navigating the minefield." To begin with, service members and veterans may be reluctant to address religion and spirituality due to military culture and/or the effects of combat/other trauma. Additionally, attempting to utilize religion and spirituality in therapy risks a conflation of the secular and religious or spiritual (sacred) domains and a subjugation of one to the other. To ease integrating religion and spirituality and avoid conflation/subjugation of secular and sacred, the concepts of sign and symbol can be utilized as a way to successfully "navigate the minefield." This article proposes a parallel process model that uses sign and symbol as a means of accommodating religion and spirituality (with special reference to Christianity), easing into a consideration of how these values bear on behavioral health, and maintaining the distinction and dialectical tension between secular and sacred.





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Social Work & Christianity

Citation/Other Information

Foley, P. S., Albright, D. L., & Fletcher, K. L. (2016). Navigating the minefield: A model for integrating religion and spirituality in social work practice with service members and veterans. Social Work & Christianity, 43(3), 73-96.

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