Spiritual therapies are "mystical, religious, or spiritual practices performed for health benefit." These range from the personal use of prayer or reflection on spirituality, to complex healing rituals by practitioners of various religions or spiritual disciplines. These are generally considered, from a health standpoints, forms of complementary and alternative medicine.
There can be conflict between this usage of "spirit", often considered an external supernatural force, and the ideas of vitalism, which believe there is a force for health intrinsic to the body. MeSH includes the following as forms of spiritual therapy; many practitioners of the therapies would object to their inclusion in the category. Homeopaths, for example, do not consider their practice to be significantly based on any external supernatural force.
- Faith healing
- Magic (see the article on sympathetic magic)
- Medicine, African Traditional
- Mental Healing
- Therapeutic touch
Pastoral care certainly has aspects of religious practice, but is performed by people, such as hospital chaplains, with formal counseling and medical training. It is not always considered "CAM", although it is clearly not a mainstream medical treatment. Yet another variant is when a patient requests that a clinician pray with them.