This month (December 2007) the American Journal of Psychiatry featured an article on Religion, Spirituality and Medicine (Burr Eichelman, M.D., Ph.D.) that examined a 2000 study of U.S. physicians regarding beliefs and practices in religion and spirituality as pertaining to their clinical practice.
The study confirmed that there is a clear shift away from the anti religious position that the psychiatric community has maintained since essentially its founding. In fact, the study clearly showed that the community has embraced religion and spirituality in psychiatric care and has endorsed (publicly) the positive effects of such practices on health. Simultaneously some 82% also believed that religion and spirituality can potentially increase a patients suffering in certain cases (a guilt-evoking faith and belief in an exclusively punitive God). Psychiatrists are increasingly supportive and encouraging of their patients spiritual exploration and in fact, in cases of anxiety and depression, many in the community are actively exploring the topic within the therapeutic process.
It seems like the wider acceptance of the spirituality in the mental health professions is a sign of the continued evolution of the field. Much like sexuality was taboo in the mental health therapeutic setting for many years, and then experienced a complete turn around - its seems God/The Divine is the next frontier. In the past, even Freud’s contemporary Fenichel noted that "the importance of all the age-old instruments of impressive magic and of the ancient magical power of faith should not be underestimated," it seems perhaps, he was right.