Faculty Spotlight

Michelle Pearce, PhD

Bridging the Gap: Enhancing Mental Health Care through Spiritual Competency Training

In 2017, Dr. Michelle Pearce attended a meeting in Atlanta, Georgia, where researchers gathered to explore ways to better address spirituality in mental health care. Recognizing the positive impact of addressing spirituality on client outcomes, they identified a significant gap between research findings and the training provided in graduate schools. This realization became the catalyst for the development of an innovative online training program known as Spiritual Competency Training in Mental Health.

The goal of the course is to empower healthcare providers to enhance their confidence and competency in addressing spiritual issues in mental health care. Dr. Pearce, leveraging her experience in directing online programs at UMB, recognized the potential reach and effectiveness of online education. Thus, the decision was made to offer the program online, leveraging its accessibility and convenience for participants.

One of the initial challenges faced by the team was how to assess learning without relying on instructors for grading. To ensure the broad dissemination of the program, they implemented self-reflection questions and knowledge checks at the end of each module. These assessments served as gateways, unlocking subsequent content for participants. Furthermore, the knowledge checks were automatically graded, eliminating the need for instructor involvement.

The impact of the Spiritual Competency Training in Mental Health program has been remarkable. Participants have reported modifying their behavior based on the training, which is incredibly rewarding for the team behind its development. Notably, healthcare providers have started integrating spiritual inquiries into their intake forms, actively seeking information about clients' spirituality and religion. Additionally, many providers have expressed increased confidence and comfort in addressing spiritual issues with their clients, indicating a significant positive shift in their clinical approach.

Dr. Pearce's work highlights the importance of recognizing and addressing spirituality in mental health care. By bridging the gap between research and training, the Spiritual Competency Training in Mental Health program equips providers with the necessary skills to holistically care for their client's mental and spiritual well-being. Ultimately, the goal is to foster behavior change and improve client outcomes, creating a more inclusive and effective approach to mental health care.

To learn more about the Spiritual Competency Training in Mental Health program and its impact, visit the EDX platform and explore this transformative online course developed by Dr. Michelle Pearce and her dedicated collaborators.

Participants mentioned that they've already started modifying their behavior based on the training. It was probably the most rewarding feedback for us to get because ultimately that's what we want