Experience of spirituality, mental illness and occupation: A life-sustaining phenomenon

Clare Wilding, Esther May, Eimear Muir-Cochran

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

31 Citations (Scopus)


Background and Aim: This article provides an overview of a phenomenological investigation of spirituality with six people who have experienced mental illness. The study aimed to gain a greater understanding of the phenomenon of spirituality and its relationships to occupation and the experience of mental illness. Methods and Results: Participants were interviewed and the interviews were audiotaped and transcribed verbatim. Findings emerged through multiple readings and gradually constructed meanings from the data. Spirituality was found to be: unique to each participant, a journey through life, vitally important to participants, manifested as 'spiritual occupations', the foundation of meaningful doing, important socially as well as individually, and was found to support participants in coping with mental illness. This article focuses on the 'meta', integrative theme of spirituality as life sustaining. It concludes with the notion that spirituality is essential to the participants and is a significant aspect of their occupational behaviour. Conclusion: It is recommended that occupational therapists give themselves a 'licence' to discuss spirituality in practice and that they commit to learning more about how spirituality is a part of the lives of their clients.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2-9
Number of pages8
JournalAustralian Occupational Therapy Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2005


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