Practice Unbound: Secular Spiritual and Religious Activities in Work with Adolescents

Practice Unbound: A Study of Secular Spiritual and Religious Activities in Work with Adolescents. (2002). Melanie Wilson, 74 pp. 

This report provides one of the first comprehensive looks at the ways human service agencies are introducing secular spiritual and religious programming in work with troubled adolescents. Of a random sample of nearly 200 youth-serving agencies, reaching from the U.S. eastern seaboard to Alaska, Hawaii and Guam, 60% report using at least one secular activity — guided visualization and 12-step groups are the most common — and 35% offer at least one religious activity. Both secular and faith-based organizations that already offer spiritual activities strongly support them and intend to do more, but say they need more training. Of those agencies resistant to incorporating spiritual activities, many cite the dearth of conclusive evidence showing that it is beneficial. Others claim they lack time, money and manpower. And still others have the impression that instituting such programs, especially those with religious content, could jeopardize board and community support as well as public funding. In fact, though, the risk of losing government funding appears to be minimal.

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