What is spirituality?

Eating disorders can have a substantial impact on one’s faith, however; research shows that including spirituality beliefs in treatment can assist with the healing process.  For this reason, we offer our clients a spiritual track in their recovery journey that complements our whole-person approach, meaning we treat not only the body but also the mind and the spirit.

The definition of “spirituality” is the search for or a belief in a greater/higher power and the existence of something outside of the human condition that includes a sense of connection to the meaning of life. In general, this higher power exists beyond humankind. Because of that, experts consider being spiritual as broader than being religious. Instead, it encompasses behavior, emotions, philosophic, and cognitive areas of thought. Some experts describe it as an attempt to understand the meaning of one’s life. However, it also includes happiness and internal awareness.

In many cultures, a spirit is a person’s essence. Because of that, being spiritual can refer to a person’s connection with themselves and others. No matter the definition, being spiritual is unique to each person.

An instinct toward spirituality appears to be deeply ingrained in humans.  It is normal to ask big questions—how we came to be? What is my purpose?  Research shows that even declared skeptics cannot stifle the sense that there is something greater than the physical world they see.

To better understand how spirituality plays a role in eating disorder recovery, it is important to understand how it differs from religion. Religion is a practice. On the other hand, a spirit is something that simply is. Religious beliefs usually incorporate regular activities, with each religion having its own activities.  In general, though, people show their belief in the higher power through acts of reverence and faith.

However, you do not have to practice a religion to be spiritual. Instead, the source of spiritual essence could be ethics, values, or anything that gives life meaning. For example, many people don’t attend church but still strongly believe in a higher power. Some of them meditate, write in a journal, or practice mindfulness to express their connection to the greater world.

What role does spirituality play?

Recovering from an eating disorder can often be difficult and full of doubt, hopelessness, self-hatred, and fear. Strengthening oneself spiritually can bring balance from within, often leading to feelings of hope and peace. A key element of eating disorder recovery involves forgiveness. Developing empathy and compassion for others may make it easier to forgive yourself or others. This forgiveness helps to move through the healing process and gain a sense of peace, harmony, and healthy values.

Spiritual health is one part of total wellness. The other elements are physical, emotional, and mental health. All the elements work together, and when something isn’t right with one of them, it can negatively impact the others. For instance, a physical condition can cause emotional turmoil. Similarly, a spiritual imbalance can have a negative impact on mental well-being.  No causal link has been established, but higher levels of spirituality have been linked to increased compassion, strengthened relationships, and improved self-esteem.

How does Magnolia Creek incorporate spirituality into treatment?

At Magnolia Creek, understand the importance of spirituality, and the importance that good spiritual wellness has on one’s overall health. For this reason, we use a whole-person approach to treatment by incorporating our Christian pathway, Freedom 3:17, into the treatment plan for clients who choose this path. We respect those who do not wish to make faith, religion, spirituality, or Christianity a part of their treatment. Our goal is to offer our clients a serene environment for healing that is non-judgmental and meets clients where they are in their recovery journey.  We have designed our program to help our clients feel hopeful and develop a strong sense of self-worth, both of which are very important when recovering from an eating disorder.

We encourage spiritual reflection opportunities as well through faith-based groups led by staff members and clinicians. These “Sojourners,” as we call them, help guide our clients through their recovery by weaving biblical principles and spiritual living into their journey. Our staff is available to meet clients to discuss their spiritual issues, and we schedule a devotional time and the beginning and end of each day. Although Freedom 3:17 is Christian-based, we welcome clients from all faiths and backgrounds.

We have found that incorporating spirituality into the recovery process helps individuals find a greater power or meaning to their lives. With time, spirituality can bring a lasting sense of inherent worth, and foster connections with others.  It offers a sense of being at home in the world, and in one’s body. It can contribute to a sense of meaning and purpose and directs one’s energies in creative rather than destructive ways.  Essentially, it frees us from the need for an eating disorder as a source of control, identity, meaning or belonging.  Recovery involves the mind, body, and spirit working together to heal the whole person. We are here so you don’t have to walk that journey alone.

“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”

 – 2 Corinthians 3:17 (NIV)


If you or your loved one is suffering from an eating disorder and needing help, Magnolia Creek is here for you.  Available 24 hours a day, our admissions team can answer your questions and help determine the best level of care to meet your specific needs. Call Magnolia Creek today at 866-318-2329 or complete our contact form to begin your recovery journey.