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Spirituality in Counseling

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At Utah Healing Center, our spiritual practice is client-oriented throughout the flow of therapy. As part of the initial intake, we assess a person’s level of spirituality and engagement in their chosen religion. Each of our therapists asks his/her client “how much would you like spirituality to be part of the therapeutic process?” Our providers have received various answers from “Absolutely, yes” to “None”. We believe people should have options and choices in their treatment and we encourage that the client’s specific spirituality or chosen religion should be one of them.

When our providers are asked to use spirituality or religious preference in therapy, we NEVER step over the boundaries to put them in an ecclesiastical role. We do not encourage client’s to pray, read scriptures, attend meetings, go to the temple, etc. This is the job of their ecclesiastical leader and we respect their role and judgment of the person’s spiritual needs.

Each religion is special and most religions teach a version of the golden rule. Each of our therapists are educated and understand the following teachings (MacFarlane, 2012):

“You shall love your neighbor as yourself” Judeo-Christian-Levitius 19:18

“Don’t go around hurting people, and try to understand things.” Native American – Hopi Culture, the Spider Grandmother gave two rules.

“One going to take a pointed stick to pinch a baby bird should first try it on himself to feel how it hurts.” African – Yoruba Proverb

“In happiness and suffering, in joy and grief, we should regard all creatures as we regard our own self.” Jainism – Lord Mahavir 24th Tirthankara

“The heart of the person before you is a mirror. See there your own form” Shinto

“What would you would avoid suffering yourself, seek not to impose upon others.” Greek Philosopher – Epictetus

“One should seek for others the happiness one desires for on’e self.” Buddhist

“The higher the aim and sense of human life is the striving to attain the welfare of one’s neighbor.” G.I. Gurdjieff

“All things are our relatives; what we do to everything, we do to ourselves. All is really One.” Native American – Black Eld

“No one of you is a believer until he desires for his brother that which he desires for himself.” Sunnah – Islam

“The golden way was to be friends with the world and to regard the whole family like the members of one family.” Mahatma Gandhi

“It is a very high goal: free and responsible development of the individual, so that he may place his powers freely and gladly in the service of mankind.” Albert Einstein

“Do unto others that you would have them do unto you.” Christianity

“Treat others as you would yourself be treated.” Hinduism

“Do as you will, as long as you harm no one.”Sacred Earth

We use spirituality as a common language in therapy. The client will define spirituality and we will never push one religion or another on a client. We are able to use stories, metaphors, and vocabulary that are understandable to the client and could have deeper meaning than a secular therapeutic word.

Josh Childs, LCSW stated, an example of using stories and metaphors is the story of the Good Samaritan discussed in the New Testament of the Holy Bible. He uses this story to talk about a therapeutic principle of boundaries. In the story, the Good Samaritan brought the battered man to an “Inn”. He related to the innkeeper to take care of the man while he was away and he will return again.

Josh teaches the clients that the Good Samaritan brought the man to an “Inn”. He didn’t bring him to his house but to a place where the person could be taken care of. This could be a homeless shelter, a drug and alcohol program, a hospital, etc. The Good Samaritan didn’t stay until the man was “all better” but did what he could and left presumably to take care of matters in his own life but would return to follow up.  This story teaches our clients great boundaries while helping another person.

Josh also stated that he thinks religious stories have great psychological implications and I enjoy putting on a therapist “lens” to look at them and how they can help my client.

Written by Josh Childs, LCSW & Janelle Nimer, PhD, LCSW

 

 

Reference

MacFarlane, M (2012) Sacred Stories: Wisdom from World Religions.