Image of World Congress WCPP
SIPPA (Students of IPPA)

Spirituality and Meaning Division

Spirituality and Meaning (SMD)

Simply put, the Spirituality/Meaning Division aims to advance the science and practice of spirituality and meaning.

The Division catalyzes, aggregates, and communicates on the science of spirituality & meaning, and in turn, shares and explores evidence-based practices therein for the benefit of individuals, groups, and society. It brings spirituality more strongly into the fold within positive psychology and emphasizes connections across backgrounds (e.g., ethnic, racial, gender, spiritual, religious) and across professional disciplines, within the Division, among other IPPA Divisions, and with related groups outside the Division. While psychology and positive psychology are often subjective – and spirituality even moreso – we turn to the science to inform the education and practice.

Science is the default.

Purpose Statement:

Dual-path benefits: Spirituality and meaning are associated with a myriad of benefits for both psychosocial and physical well-being and for managing adversity in life. Well-being and adversity represent very broad, wide-reaching streams by which individuals and communities can benefit.

Science: This is the #1 priority of the Division. We provide review/share the basic and applied science behind spirituality and meaning – offering a strong knowledge base relating to those topics. This includes the science relating to spiritual experiences, rituals, practices, and communities. The aim is not only to share these findings but also to distill them into tangible forms for recipients across disciplines.

Practice: From the science, evidence-based practices emerge. These flow from the fountain of basic and applied research on spirituality and have streams not only in the form of spiritual experience, rituals, and practices but also in meaning-making, character strengths, mindfulness, yoga, and a myriad of other practices. This is critical as personal transformation that professionals and their clients seek, requires practical change. Therefore, activities, exercises, and other tools to enable growth through spirituality and meaning will be offered.

Correcting misconceptions: There’s no doubt spirituality in particular has suffered from misconceptions and inaccurate stereotypes in the field of psychology over the decades and to some degree in the field of positive psychology. It has been viewed as unscientific, not psychologically-relevant, as navel-gazing or pie-in-the-sky gazing, as only for the deeply religious or the yogi masters, or all about healing with crystals. Such misconceptions are destructive to the science of spirituality/meaning and do a disservice to the hundreds of scientists who have ventured into such territory. The experiences and learning opportunities provided by this Division will not only correct such misconceptions but will demonstrate the pivotal role of this work for people’s lives.

Community: This Division is a place for IPPA members to come together and grow, to build connections, and to network across professions and Divisions. Many practitioners, researchers, students, and educators, who work in this field, dabble with it, or hope/plan to someday, will want to call this Division – this community – their “positive psychology home.” Some people find it uncomfortable to research, discuss, or give presentations on these topics. This Division will be a safe and empowering place for these people.

Diversity: Building from the last point, spirituality and meaning are universal. If we view spirituality from the lens of its scientific definition – the pursuit or communing with the sacred to provide meaning – then this topic is relevant for every human being. This Division is inclusive of all people regardless of nationality, ethnicity/race/gender, spiritual perspective, religious belief/lack of religious belief, age, and background. We aim to create a space that is accessible and inclusive for everyone and is tolerant and understanding of different beliefs. It’s a “place” for not only personal growth and healthy communication among people, but is a place for deep learning to occur.