Emotional themes in cross-faith encounters among MSW students : A qualitative exploration

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Shortly after the terrorist attacks of 9/11/2001, graduate students in an elective course on “Spirituality & Social Work” were given an optional assignment to attend services at another faith for three weeks and keep a journal of their experiences. Most allowed the author to conduct a content analysis of these journals for emotional themes. The most common themes were anxiety, surprise, and appreciation for the assignment. Lesser themes included excitement, empathy for minorities, anger, and embarrassment. These findings are discussed in terms of their relevance for social work education. Recommendations include better preparation through requiring research and clarification of the student's role, debriefing students about counter-transference issues, and achieving spiritual empathy through the recognition of spiritual similarities despite religious differences.
Original languageAmerican English
JournalJournal of Religion & Spirituality in Social Work
StatePublished - Aug 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Content analysis
  • graduate students
  • spirituality
  • terrorist attack
  • cross-faith encounter


  • Social Work
  • Psychology

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