We divide the primary spiritual arenas into four clusters which become axes in an assessment framework: Interpersonal, personal, transcendent and communal. For a video on how these 36 can be used in spiritual assessment and documenting in the medical record, click here.

Whenever I see my daughter's face for example, I marvel at the wonder of her, whether she is basking in delight or worried or hurt or sad. Whenever I talk with her I am enriched that day. She, along with my sons, pulls me into the arena of parenting, and they have done so for 33 years now. When you have a child, you will never be quit of having them affect you, positively or negatively, (and sometimes both), every single day of the rest of your life. That effect they have on a parent's human spirit qualifies parenting to be considered a "major" spiritual arena. There are about three dozen that are major. We divide them in clusters around interpersonal

       For a clinician the value of this concept is that these arenas together form a listening framework for beginning to grasp the primary concerns of any patient who can converse.  In a first conversation, a chief assessment question in the clinician's mind can be, "What arena is this patient talking about, upset in, discouraged by, or delighted with at this present time? " Granted, what a person first talks about is generally not their deepest concern. But if the first significant utterances are understood with some level of empathy, the fundamental issues soon arise. In fashioning a charting note about a given patient contact, a good start is identifying the primary spiritual arenas (not necessarily by that name) talked about in the conversation. Most of us only have less than sex such arenas in which we are consciously either enthused or disturbed at any given time.

       To get a brief introduction on the primary spiritual arenas watch the film strip above. To assess yourself in how you're doing in them click here.


A spiritual arena is an entire aspect of human living in which we encounter the uncontrollable and in which we find ourselves at times immersed in awe at beauty and and other times nearly overwhelmed by the awful.  We can not actually escape them. They make up our lives. They carry the greatest joy and the most intense pain. How our spirit fares is largely determined by how we do in these 36 aspects of life. Whenever we converse with another person we are sharing about these arenas and when we talk seriously about them we are touching our core. Whenever re reflect on something, ponder its meaning, or ruminate about its unpleasantness, we are doing so in at least one of these arenas. Sometimes several.     

36 Primary Arenas of the Human Spirit