Ethics applies to every aspect of an individual's life: their character, actions, values, and their relationship to all of existence. Ethics, or morality, defines a code of values to guide an individual's choices and actions — the choices and actions that determine the course of their life.

Numerous studies have shown that social relationships, particularly family relationships, can have both long- and short-term effects on one's mental health.
  • Depending on the nature of these relationships, mental health can be enhanced or impacted negatively.
  • Companionship, emotional support and even logistical help can have a positive impact. 
Emerging research has indicated that mental health providers’ integration of clients’ religion and spirituality in treatment has the potential to positively influence a variety of clinical outcomes.
  • Clients utilizing religiously-integrated therapies or relying on their religious beliefs and practices experience fewer depressive symptoms and faster recoveries, less anxiety, and lower suicide rates.
  • Given that 83% of Americans believe in God and 77% describe religion as important in their lives it is critical that helping professionals be aware of and competent in integrating clients’ faith in therapy.
The primary ethical responsibility of mental health counselors is to respect client autonomy, dignity and promote client welfare.

Preparing a Foundation for the Curtailment of Religious Liberty: New Research Targets Conservative Religious Beliefs on Same-Sex Sexuality

 Reviewed by Christopher Rosik, Ph.D.


A recently published study (Sowe, Taylor, & Brown, 2017) appears to move psychology’s attack on conservative religious beliefs about same-sex sexuality to a new level.  The study appeared in the American Psychological Association affiliated journal, American Journal of Orthopsychiatry. In what follows, I will outline the study’s methodology and findings with extensive quotations from the authors, ending with a critical review of the conclusions and implications drawn by these researchers.


Study Overview


            As is common to nearly all research in the area of health disparities among sexual orientations, Sowe et al. ground their study exclusively on the minority stress theory.  In this view, disproportionately high rates of mental and physical distress among LGB populations are exclusively attributed to the disproportionately prejudicial social conditions they experience.  However, this study forges new ground by focusing specifically on traditional Christian beliefs regarding same-sex sexuality as key source of that disproportional prejudice, noting that anti-gay prejudice is frequently religious-based.  Further, the authors contend that religious anti-gay prejudice negatively impacts not just LGB individuals within conservative religious contexts, but also LGB and even heterosexual persons outside these churches who are simply exposed to or anticipate being exposed to anti-gay doctrine.  As Sowe et al. assert,


Indeed, from a minority stress perspective, it would be erroneous to assume that religious anti-gay prejudice is purely a “religious” phenomenon—that is, of consequence only to religious sexual minorities.  Although nonreligious LGB individuals may be less likely than their religious counterparts to attend a place of worship or internalize anti-gay doctrines, they may nonetheless experience (or expect to experience) homonegativity from religious individuals and groups they encounter. (p. 692, authors’ emphases)

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