Spiritual Competency Training in Mental Health

5 weeks total 2 - 3 hours each week recommended

Please select the start dates for your courses below.

Scheduled Start:

About this course

Are you a mental health provider who wants to more effectively work with the increasing spiritual and religious diversity in your clients? Do you know how to help clients who encounter spiritual and religious distress? Or how to harness clients’ spiritual resources to support positive therapeutic outcomes? If so, this course is for you!

Spiritual Competency Training in Mental Health is a program designed to train mental health providers in basic spiritual and religious competencies. Taught by instructors who are experts in the field of religion/spirituality and mental health, this course will equip providers with greater confidence and competence helping clients with religious and spiritual issues. The program focuses on core spiritual competencies (knowledge, skills, and attitudes) that underlie effective mental health care and are common to mental health disciplines and therapeutic orientations. Basic competency in spiritual and religious issues in mental health is an ethical requirement for most professional boards and associations related to mental health clinical practice. Yet, few of us received this training in our graduate programs. This program bridges the current training gap.

The program consists of eight modules and takes about six to eight hours to complete. The modules consist of engaging learning activities, such as watching brief videos, reading text screens, listening to audio clips, and completing short reflection questions and knowledge check questions.

Mental health professionals (MD, PhD, Master’s level, and trainees) of all disciplines are welcome to participate. Therapists who complete the program will be eligible for 6 CE credits.


What you’ll learn

  • How to integrate spirituality and religion into clinical practice
  • Common stereotypes about religion/spirituality (RS)
  • The diversity of RS expressions (e.g., spiritual/religious beliefs, practices, and experiences)
  • Why it is important to address RS in treatment
  • The importance of the therapist’s own RS attitudes, beliefs, and practices
  • How to assess RS in clinical practice
  • How to help clients access RS resources
  • How to respond to RS problems that arise in treatment.


Completed or currently enrolled in a professional graduate program for mental health (e.g., Master’s, PhD, MD, or trainee).

Frequently asked questions

Does this program qualify for continuing education (CE) credits?

Yes! Upon completion of this program, you will be eligible for 6 CE credits. This program is co-sponsored by the Maryland Psychological Association and the Maryland Psychological Association Foundation. The Maryland Psychological Association is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. The Maryland Psychological Association maintains responsibility for this program and its content. It is the participant’s responsibility to check with their professional licensing board to see if these CE credits are applicable in his or her jurisdiction.

Who can take this course?

Unfortunately, learners from one or more of the following countries or regions will not be able to register for this course: Iran, Cuba and the Crimea region of Ukraine. While edX has sought licenses from the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) to offer our courses to learners in these countries and regions, the licenses we have received are not broad enough to allow us to offer this course in all locations. EdX truly regrets that U.S. sanctions prevent us from offering all of our courses to everyone, no matter where they live.

Meet your instructors

Michelle Pearce

Assistant Professor, Program Director, Graduate School at University of Maryland, Baltimore
Michelle Pearce, PhD, is an Assistant Professor in the Graduate School at the University of Maryland, Baltimore. Dr. Pearce is also a clinical psychologist who researches the relationship between religion/spirituality, coping, and health, as well as the integration of spirituality into the practice of psychotherapy. She received her Ph.D. from Yale University and completed a post-doctoral fellowship in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) at Duke University Medical Center and a second fellowship in Spirituality and Health at the Duke Center for Spirituality, Theology, and Health. She directs three graduate certificate programs: Aging and Applied Thanatology, Integrative Health and Wellness, and Science Communication. She is the author of the book Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Christians with Depression: A Practical, Tool-Based Primer . Her areas of clinical expertise include Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, spiritual and existential issues, mind-body stress reduction methods, and behavioral medicine to address the intersection of mental and physical illness.

Kenneth Pargament

Professor Emeritus of Psychology at Bowling Green State University
Kenneth Pargament is a Ph. D. in clinical psychology, professor emeritus of psychology at Bowling Green State University, and Adjunct Professor in the Menninger Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences of the Baylor College of Medicine. He has published over 300 articles on religion, spirituality, and health, and authored The Psychology of Religion and Coping: Theory, Research, Practice and Spiritually Integrated Psychotherapy: Understanding and Addressing the Sacred. Dr. Pargament is Editor-in-Chief of the 2013 two-volume APA Handbook of Psychology, Religion, and Spirituality. Among his awards are the Oskar Pfister Award from the American Psychiatric Association in 2009, the Distinguished Service Award from the Association of Professional Chaplains in 2015, and the first Outstanding Applied Psychology of Religion and Spirituality Award from the American Psychological Association in 2017. He was recently cited as “One of the 50 Most Influential Living Psychologists in the World.” His current research interests focus on religious and spiritual struggles and spiritually integrated psychotherapy.

Learner testimonials

“This training has definitely increased my comfort level in integrating spiritualty and religion more often with the clients that I see. In addition, it has increased my therapeutic confidence in knowing where to go when this presents as a piece of a client’s identity and/or the presenting concern.”

Previous Participant

“This training has definitely increased my comfort level in integrating spiritualty and religion more often with the clients that I see. In addition, it has increased my therapeutic confidence in knowing where to go when this presents as a piece of a client’s identity and/or the presenting concern.”

Previous Participant

Experience Level


Learning Partner

University System of Maryland

Program Type



Health & Safety Medicine Social Sciences