Integration of religion into cognitive-behavioral therapy for geriatric anxiety and depression

J Psychiatr Pract. 2009 Mar;15(2):103-12. doi: 10.1097/01.pra.0000348363.88676.4d.


Religion is important to most older adults, and research generally finds a positive relationship between religion and mental health. Among psychotherapies used in the treatment of anxiety and depression in older adults, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) has the strongest evidence base. Incorporation of religion into CBT may increase its acceptability and effectiveness in this population. This article reviews studies that have examined the effects of integrating religion into CBT for depression and anxiety. These studies indicate that improvement in depressive and anxiety symptoms occurs earlier in treatment when CBT incorporates religion, although effects are equivalent at follow-up. The authors present recommendations for integrating religious beliefs and behaviors into CBT based on empirical literature concerning which aspects of religion affect mental health. A case example is also included that describes the integration of religion into CBT for an older man with cognitive impairment experiencing comorbid generalized anxiety disorder and major depressive disorder. It is recommended that clinicians consider the integration of religion into psychotherapy for older adults with depression or anxiety and that studies be conducted to examine the added benefit of incorporating religion into CBT for the treatment of depression and anxiety in older adults.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging
  • Anxiety / psychology
  • Anxiety / therapy*
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy* / methods
  • Comorbidity
  • Depression / psychology
  • Depression / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Psychotherapy* / methods
  • Religion and Psychology*