Assessing Afterlife Beliefs in Psychotherapy

Assessing Afterlife Beliefs in Psychotherapy
Beth Christopherson, LCSW & Julie Beischel, PhD


Afterlife beliefs are common, may affect health outcomes, and are relevant to clients’ relationships. Unfortunately, these beliefs are generally neglected in the psychospiritual literature and in most published religion and spirituality (RS) tools and assessments. Here, an afterlife assessment guide is introduced that incorporates the recommended two-phase RS assessment approach and provides introductory guidelines for mental health professionals (MHPs) to competently assess and address afterlife beliefs and spiritual experiences in the psychotherapy setting. The SRRT consists of sets of sample questions organized around four concepts (Significance, Relationships, Resources, and Treatment). It can be used by MHPs to determine if any afterlife beliefs or experiences of significance may be impacting the client’s well-being or relationships; the MHP can then assess possible afterlife-related resources and tailor specific forms of treatment. The development of the SRRT was informed by current bereavement models, trauma-informed approaches, and ethical practice guidelines for MHPs. Ideally, the SRRT will also serve as an initial resource for MHPs to collaborate and reach consensus regarding assessing and addressing afterlife beliefs and spiritual experiences.

Christopherson, B., & Beischel, J. (2018). Assessing Afterlife Beliefs in Psychotherapy. Threshold: Journal Of Interdisciplinary Consciousness Studies, 2(1), 50-74.