Spirituality is a client’s belief about life, health, illness, death, and one’s relationship to the universe. It differs from religion, which is an organized system of beliefs about one or more all-powerful, all-knowing forces that govern the universe and offer guidelines for living in harmony with the universe and others (Andrews & Boyle, 2007). Spiri-tual and religious beliefs usually are supported by others who share them and follow the same rules and rituals for daily living. Spirituality and religion often provide comfort and hope to people and can greatly affect a person’s health and health-care practices.
The nurse must first assess his or her own spiritual and religious beliefs. Religion and spirituality are highlysubjective and can be vastly different among people. The nurse must remain objective and nonjudgmental regard-ing the client’s beliefs and must not allow them to alter nursing care. The nurse must assess the client’s spiritual and religious needs and guard against imposing his or her own on the client. The nurse must ensure that the client is not ignored or ridiculed because his or her beliefs and val-ues differ from those of the staff.
As the therapeutic relationship develops, the nurse must be aware of and respect the client’s religious and spir-itual beliefs. Ignoring or being judgmental will quickly erode trust and could stall the relationship. For example, a nurse working with a Native American client could find him looking up at the sky and talking to “Grandmother Moon.” If the nurse did not realize that the client’s beliefs embody all things with spirit, including the sun, moon, earth, and trees, the nurse might misinterpret the client’s actions as inappropriate.
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