Namaste Theory

One of the (many!) things I love about research is when I have an unexpected “ah ha!!” moment that no amount of planning or hope or best intentions could have created – only  a little breathing room to think. Last year, I had such a moment reflecting on my dissertation findings and some more recent surveys of various helping professionals.

In my national sample of clinical social workers, I noticed that their intrinsic religiosity (or the degree to which they’re deeply motivated to carry out their religion/spirituality into all areas of their lives) was the top predictor of their attitudes, confidence, perceived feasibility, and behaviors related to assessing and discussing clients’ religion/spirituality. Yes, their intrinsic religiosity. Not training… though, that was the second and only other predictor. Not gender, race, ethnicity, age, region of the country, years in practice, age of clients served, type of clinical issue most often treated, religious affiliation, etc… it was their own intrinsic religiosity first, and then whether or not they received training. This finding echoed in the qualitative responses I wrote about here.

One morning last year while I was getting ready, without really even thinking much about work, it dawned on me…


Namaste…
The divine in me sees the divine in you…
The light in me sees the light in you…
That’s IT!!!


Practitioners who have higher levels of intrinsic religiosity – those who deeply recognize the sacred within, or that which they consider sacred, such as their spirituality – tend to recognize the sacred within their clients more. The Hindi term, Namaste, which literally translates to “I bow to you” and acknowledges the divine/sacred within both individuals, helped to bring order and understanding to what I saw emerging in the data regarding the role of the therapist’s spirituality in considering the clients’ spirituality. This wasn’t just in my research, but this pattern echoed across helping professions with elements of practitioners’ religion/spirituality influencing whether they considered their clients’ religion/spirituality. And, as I mention in the original article, published in Religions, I’m also curious if this theory could be extended beyond one’s religion/spirituality to include other areas of intersectionality (e.g., the more practitioners are deeply aware of their race/ethnicity/gender/sexual orientation/age/ability/culture/etc., the more likely they are to recognize this layer if diversity in clients.)

Baylor University’s Garland School of Social Work put together a great video about this theory, which you can find here, and even wrote an article describing Namaste Theory in more detail here. (A special thanks to Baylor graduate Connor Watkins for putting together the video and article!) Also, if you’re interested in hearing more about this theory, check out my podcast episode with Steve Austin here!

While I strongly recommend receiving training on integrating clients’ religion/spirituality, particularly if you did not receive such training in your graduate program, Namaste Theory suggests it is also critical that you take time to become deeply aware of your religious/spiritual beliefs. Not only will this awareness help you become more comfortable and grounded with your own beliefs, allowing you to hold space to discuss others’ diverse beliefs, but it can also allow you to be mindful of biases, reduce the risk of imposing your beliefs (whether intentionally or unintentionally), and recognize the complexities of others’ spiritual journeys.

As always, I hope this serves you well in your work, particularly as you seek to serve your clients to the best of your ability, both ethically and effectively! Namaste, friends! 😉

Kindly,

holly3

“The Namaste Project & Spiritual Self-Care”: An interview with Steve Austin on the #AskSteveAustin podcast!

Hi friends! I have another great conversation that I’m so excited to share with you! I recently had the opportunity to talk with lifecoach and author, Steve Austin, for his podcast, the #AskSteveAustin podcast, and the episode went live last night! We had such a fun conversation about a number of topics that are near and dear to my heart. Our original focus for this episode was on Namaste Theory and spiritual self-care, but Steve and I had a blast talking like old friends and the chat ended up including some of my journey, practicing contentment, being an Enneagram 2, my love for research, and some new research on client preferences for integrating their spirituality into mental health treatment (which has since been accepted to be published in Social Work!). Plus, we talked about the importance of spiritual self-care and walked through a number of spiritual practices I lean on, including centering prayer, Sabbath, gratitude, journaling, and more!

We had a BLAST, and I would highly recommend his podcast if you haven’t heard of it before! I am honored to have had the chance to chat with him, and am grateful for all of the work he’s doing at the intersection of faith and mental health.

I hope you enjoy the episode and it serves you well! I’m off to go celebrate being married to my best friend for 7 years and together for 13 by watching Callie play t-ball and getting some quality family time tonight!

#AskSteveAustin Podcast Episode 55:
“The Namaste Project & Spiritual Self-Care (with Dr. Holly Oxhandler)”

podcastCredit: feature photo (source) and podcast photo (source).

 

Kindly,

holly3