Child and adolescent psychopathology: Spiritual and religious perspectives

P. Alex Mabe, Allan M. Josephson

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


This article addresses the relationship between children's religious beliefs and spiritual practices and the presence of psychopathology. Study of this subject represents a formidable task due to the complexity and diversity of the constructs involved, heterogeneity in religious beliefs and practices, and the difficulty in discriminating between the independent effects of religion and culture. Nevertheless, broad links between child psychopathology and spiritual/religious beliefs and practices are proposed. On the whole, the available empiric data suggest that religion is primarily health promoting in direct, positive benefits for children and in indirect, positive effects through parent and family functioning, although there are isolated exceptions. When spirituality and religious beliefs/practices are associated with negative mental health outcomes in children or their families, evidence points to "poorness-of-fit," based on an interaction between the child's psychopathology and aspects of religious beliefs/practice. Clinical implications of these findings and proposals are outlined.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)111-125
Number of pages15
JournalChild and Adolescent Psychiatric Clinics of North America
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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