Tag Archives: Religion

A Counselors Values – To Share or Not To Share


There are a lot of different values, and a lot of different opinions about each value.  There are people who, when they feel strongly abut their values, make sure everyone knows how they feel by voicing them loudly and repeatedly.  This is one way a counselor can influence clients with their own beliefs, a couple of other ways counselors can influence clients to adopt their values would be talking about how they feel about one subject over and over again and also with their body language.  Body language can portray how a counselor feels when a client is talking about a subject the counselor feels strongly about.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

Then there are people who, even when they feel strongly about their values, are able to live by them and explain how they feel only when asked.  These people let their values be known through their actions and attitude.  I believe a counselor should be one of these people.

When you live by your values people can get to know you and get a sense of what you are about.  When they become curious about how or why you live your life this way, that is the appropriate time to say, yes I believe in Jesus, I am a Christian.  In a counselor/client relationship, I believe after you have matter-of-factly given your belief you should then bring the conversation back around to the patient by asking what religion are you, or even, do you have a religion.  I don’t think any session should dwell on the counselor’s beliefs or values.

There are counselors who feel it is a good idea to talk about religion with your clients but, my first instinct is to refer a client to a church counselor when the session became to deeply encompassed by religion.  If you can stay objective and are knowledgeable about the different religions being investigated by the client, then it is probably ok to discuss religion in a session.

By communicating with the client and investigating the different aspects of the religion(s) he or she is interested in, it opens the door to something that wasn’t there before.  The conversation can become a very useful tool in helping clients better themselves, even if it isn’t through religion.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

Matching yourself with a therapist… important or irrelevant?


The word culture can be interpreted broadly.  It can include demographic variables such as age, gender, and place of residence; status variables such as social, educational, and economic background; formal and informal affiliations; and the ethnographic variables of nationality, ethnicity, language, and religion.  (Corey, Schneider-Corey, & Callanan, 2007, p. 115)  Given this broad based definition, it is literally impossible for us to consider every interaction as anything less than multi-cultural.  No single person is capable of sharing all the traits that contribute to our cultural identity, and as a result, any attempt to match ourselves with our clients (or clients to ourselves) is an exercise in futility.  It is impossible to match client and therapist in all areas of potential diversity, which means that all encounters with clients are diverse, at least to some degree.  (Corey et al., 2007, p. 141)  It’s a safe to assume that while you may share commonalities in one specific variable, like age for example, you likely do not share one or more demographic variables that contribute to the definition of culture.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

I would suggest we tread lightly when generalize about any single group in effort to “match” ourselves to our clients… or try to match ourselves to a potential therapist.  In doing so, we not only do injustice to our clients but we do injustice to ourselves and our own personal growth.  In my own personal journey to becoming a counselor, and indeed throughout my life, I am amazed and humbled by the differences among us.  Every time we meet someone, the potential is there to see the world through a new set of eyes.  I aspire to find as many opportunities as I can to walk in another man’s shoes, and to see through her eyes, so that I can understand more fully what it really means to be human.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

Reference

Corey, G., Schneider-Corey, M., & Callanan, P. (2007). Issues and ethics in the helping professions (8th ed.). Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole.

Impact of Values and Religious Beliefs on Therapy


On this we can agree; the idea that psychotherapy is value neutral is no longer tenable.  (Corey, Schneider-Corey, & Callanan, 2007, p. 78)  As we strive to maintain our prospective clients’ autonomy, it is important that we be honest and open with ourselves regarding our personal values and how those values affect the client-therapist relationship.  Values can impact that relationship directly and indirectly, and that impact can manifest as conscious effort on the part of the therapist or (perhaps more importantly) subconsciously.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

We as therapists are trained not only to listen, but to interpret the context and sub-context of therapeutic discussion.  Without consciously or implicitly doing so, it is entirely possible that we as counselors can lead clients to our predetermined conclusions (goals) and subsequently rob them of the ability to make that choice.  Self-determination is a key component in goal setting, and to what degree it is possible, it should be client driven not therapist driven.

Goals are usually based on values and beliefs, and clients may adopt goals that the therapist thinks are beneficial.  (Corey et al., 2007, p. 79)  I think this is of particular significance when you encounter a client who is indecisive about his goals.  To use couples therapy as an example, I anticipate that we will encounter situations where one party or the other insisted on counseling as a way to help resolve marital issues.  The “other half” may come to the table with little more than wish to fulfill the other person’s desire for marital counseling, and subsequently not have clearly defined goals to express to the counselor.  Even a well intentioned clinician is prone to suggesting possible goals for the indecisive other half, but even those gentle nudges have potential to skew the goal setting process and subsequently impair the ability of the couple to engage each other in the cooperative effort of goal setting.

I would suggest that, generally speaking, our own personal values can best be exposed in the form of a question.  Unfortunately, even the process of questioning our clients leaves potential for the client-therapist relationship to be inexorably altered by the values that produced the question in the first place.  For example, if we decide to proceed with a line of questioning involving religion and the role the spirituality plays in a specific clients life (on the basis that it plays a role in our lives) we may be wasting our time “drilling down” on the topic unless the client themselves shows interest or otherwise shows concern for religious or spiritual considerations.  If we ignore the absence of a response and continue to drill the religious line of questioning for our own benefit, we would be doing a disservice to our clients.

Conversely, if our client is passionate about religion and spirituality, and we do not share those beliefs… we do an equally damaging injustice to the client by passively ignoring those responses in favor of lines of questioning that better fit our own personal worldview.  When counselors fail to raise the issue, clients may assume that such matters are not relevant for counseling, and counselors may be guilty of excluding an important issue of diversity and experience.  (Corey et al., 2007, p. 93)  So our ethical concern is twofold, it is contained not only in what we do and say as it relates to sensitive subjects like religion, but also in what we choose NOT to do or say.  The ethical issue lies in our ability to choose to ignore (or otherwise gloss over) considerations that play a crucial role in our clients decision making processes, simply because we do not employ them in our own structures of decision making.

We should be consideration of clients who are in a crisis situation, and acknowledge that the spiritual domain may be a source of comfort and support.  Consequently, clinicians must remain open and nonjudgmental when discussions in this realm occur.  (Corey et al., 2007, p. 94)  This can be done without implying support for specific religious beliefs.  (Corey et al., 2007, p. 95)

Religious dogma is not part of the theoretical foundation of psychotherapy.  Therapists should neither impose their religions views on clients, nor should they pretend to be experts in religion any more than they are in medicine, culture, finances, or any other related area.  (Corey et al., 2007, p. 99)  If religion and spirituality plays a predominant role in the decision making process of a client, and we are operating outside of what we consider to be our own competency, it is imperative that we utilize a multi-disciplinary approach that utilizes religious resources when appropriate.  Leveraging the expertise of our colleagues and the religious community can allow us to continue to play a positive role in conflict resolution, all while allowing the systems we lean on to address the intricacies of faith.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

Reference

Corey, G., Schneider-Corey, M., & Callanan, P. (2007). Issues and ethics in the helping professions (8th  ed.). Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole.