Spirituality and Older Adults: Ethical Guidelines to Enhance Service Provision


  • David R. Hodge Arizona State University
  • Robin P. Bonifas Arizona State University
  • Rita Jing-Ann Chou University of South Carolina




Spirituality, religion, strengths, ethical practice, older adults


Spirituality plays an important role in the lives of many older adults. Consequently, it is not surprising that gerontological social workers frequently engage spirituality in practice settings. The paucity of training gerontological workers have received on this topic, however, is a cause for concern. To help equip workers, three ethical principles are proposed to guide interactions in the area of spirituality. These principles can be summarized as: 1) client autonomy, 2) spiritual competence, and 3) professional competence. The application of these principles in practice settings will enhance the ability of gerontological social workers to interact with older adults’ spirituality in a professional and ethical manner.

Author Biographies

David R. Hodge, Arizona State University

David R. Hodge, Ph.D., is Assistant Professor, School of Social Work, Arizona State University, and Senior Nonresident Fellow, Program for Research on Religion and Urban Civil Society, University of Pennsylvania.

Robin P. Bonifas, Arizona State University

Robin P. Bonifas, Ph.D. is Assistant Professor, School of Social Work, Arizona State University.

Rita Jing-Ann Chou, University of South Carolina

Rita Jing-Ann Chou, PhD Assistant Professor DeSaussure 322 College of Social Work University of South Carolina Columbia, SC 29208


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