Abstract: Namaste Theory: A Formal Quantitative Grounded Theory on Religion/Spirituality in Mental Health Treatment (Society for Social Work and Research 24th Annual Conference - Reducing Racial and Economic Inequality)

462P Namaste Theory: A Formal Quantitative Grounded Theory on Religion/Spirituality in Mental Health Treatment

Saturday, January 18, 2020
Marquis BR Salon 6 (ML 2) (Marriott Marquis Washington DC)
* noted as presenting author
Holly K. Oxhandler, PhD, LMSW, Associate Dean for Research & Faculty Development; Assistant Professor, Baylor University, Waco, TX
Background and Purpose: Increased attention to the integration of clients’ religion/spirituality (RS) in mental health treatment has occurred both in practice and research. Scholars are recognizing the positive impact that ethically and effectively integrating clients’ RS has on mental health outcomes, and are beginning to identify the complex mechanisms that influence practitioners’ views, consideration of, and behaviors related to integrating clients’ RS in treatment.

Methods: Though grounded theory often utilizes qualitative data, many have discussed the use of quantitative or mixed-methods data to build theory. Glaser’s (2008) formal quantitative grounded theory served as a mechanism to conceptually build Namaste theory using a two-step process. First, the author explored the emerging pattern in her research related to practitioners’ intrinsic religiosity (a deep, internal motivation to live out one’s faith) being the top predictor of their orientation to integrating clients’ RS. Second, the author examined the broader, interdisciplinary literature to test whether this theory is supported across others’ findings.

Results: The initial seed for this theory emerged from a three-pronged approach to analyzing a national survey of licensed clinical social workers (LCSWs). The first study tested the reliability and validity of the Religious/Spiritually Integrated Practice Assessment Scale and found intrinsic religiosity had the strongest relationship with LCSWs’ attitudes, self-efficacy, perceived feasibility, behaviors, and overall scale score when testing for criterion validity. The second study found the only characteristics that predicted LCSWs’ overall orientation toward integrating clients’ RS were intrinsic religiosity and prior training, with intrinsic religiosity having the most influence on the model. Finally, a content analysis of what helps/hinders LCSWs’ integration of clients’ RS revealed 44% of LCSWs freely mentioned their personal religiosity helps them consider clients’ RS.

Next, in each interdisciplinary study identified that examined practitioners’ views and behaviors related to integrating clients’ RS, the practitioners’ RS (measured by intrinsic religiosity, personal RS, frequency of RS practices/service attendance, or RS affiliation) emerged as being significantly related to or predictive of their views/behaviors.

The Hindi term, Namaste,helped make sense of what was emerging in the data. Though many definitions exist, Namaste generally translates to “the sacred in me recognizes the sacred in you”. Thus, recognizing the role practitioners’ intrinsic religiosity has on their views/behaviors related to considering clients’ RS, Namaste theory proposes that as helping professionals become aware of, experience, and infuse their RS beliefs/practices into their daily lives, they tend to hold more positive views and engage in clients’ RS beliefs and practices.

Conclusions and Implications: This formal quantitative grounded theory study indicates it is critical that helping professions-including social work-not ignore the role of practitioners’ RS, given its influence on their views/behaviors related to considering clients’ RS. It is recommended that training programs intentionally consider this area of practitioners’ lives while being trained to consider this area of clients’ lives, ensuring they are not only competent to ethically assess and integrate clients’ RS, but also to not impose their beliefs. Future research should continue to test Namaste theory in order for it to remain grounded in data.