DO YOU WANT TO USE YOUR FAITH DURING THE THERAPY PROCESS?
This is a common request I get from people. They ask if somehow they can integrate their spiritual or religious beliefs while receiving counseling.
Spiritual and religious beliefs are a rather natural fit, most times, while learning skills, seeking healing, and working toward improvements in your life.
HOW IS IT DIFFERENT THAN TRADITIONAL THERAPY?
We utilize similar assessment, treatment planning and interventions skills as with traditional therapy, however, we incorporate your individual beliefs and religious traditions. Many times, this means the person seeking spiritual counseling would explain what their beliefs are and what they are not so the therapist understands their perspective. The therapist would incorporate these beliefs into the skill building, communication techniques, and therapy interventions such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).
This could mean we open or close a session in a prayer from your tradition. At times, a person will ask not to incorporate certain options in the treatment plan because it does not support their beliefs. Another times people are wanting counseling that does not judge or diminish their spiritual or religious values. Starting at the first session a person is asked to by the therapist if they have spiritual or religious beliefs, if yes, then requested details so this aspect of their life can be understood. That way whether or not they participate in a spiritual or religious practice, their beliefs are known and respected during the counseling process.
DOESN’T MATTER WHAT THE THERAPIST’S SPIRITUAL AND RELIGIOUS BELIEF ARE?
That is a yes and no answer. Some people just do not want a therapist who practices a different spiritual or religious tradition as their own. I can totally understand that and in a situation like this, I would give them a number of a therapist who practices more closely in line with their faith tradition.
However, I have also found that as a practicing Christian, who was raised Catholic, attended a Baptist Church for a while and currently attends a Presbyterian Church, I have a wide range of religious cultural experience. I am familiar with the Old Testament and the struggle of the Israel Nation. I have studied both Catholic and Protestant theology, including studying the New Testament. I have several friends who are in practice more of the Eastern Religions often including mindfulness meditation. This is a growing trend in the West. A research study printed by the Christian Science Monitor stated:
“There are lots of people who are Christians, who may be Protestant or may be Catholic and who may be quite committed to their practice, but who nevertheless have practiced … tenets of experience that tend to come [from] outside of Christianity.” 1
I have worked with several people who are Christian who have no problems integrating relaxation, deep-breathing and meditation into their treatment plan to improve their mental health due to their Eastern Religion influence.
I have worked with people who have strict behavioral religious rituals which we incorporate in the interventions and treatment.
Others have had a very traumatic experience with God and/or their childhood religion and want to keep God out of the counseling process all together. This is honored the vast majority of the times, except, on occasion, when the person discovers their issues with God and childhood religion are part of their therapeutic issues and they end up wanting to address those problems.
EVEN IN THE CHRISTIAN TRADITION THERE IS A VAST DIFFERENCE IN BELIEFS AND PRACTICES.
‘There were 217 denominations listed in the 2006 Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches. But there may well be other groups that function as branch of the Christian church but do not regard themselves as such. The single largest religious group in the United States is the Roman Catholic Church, which had 67 million members in 2005.”2
As you can see there are a wide variety of beliefs that require a wide knowledge and willingness to learn when incorporation spiritual and religious beliefs. I find that if it is important to people to integrate their faith with therapy, they will take the time to communicate their unique faith and practices.
So what I find helpful in treating people who want their faith integrated is 1) gathering information about their beliefs, 2) educate myself and respect the religious culture and 3) develop an individualized treatment plan.
WHAT YOUNG COUNSELING SERVICES IN VICTOR, NY HAS TO OFFER?
• We have convenient hours, starting at 7 AM Monday through Thursday for those who need appointments before work or school, and as late as 8 PM on Monday and Wednesdays for those who need appointments after school, work or extra-curricular activities.
• We accept most insurances. We will work with people who have financial hardship.
• We are located in an under-served area in Victor, NY.
• Jeff is licensed in NYS and has over 20 experience with treating people of variety of faiths.
• Provide unique and individualized treatment plans geared toward your spiritual or religious culture.
NEXT STEPS TO HEALING:
Call/Text Young Counseling Services in Victor, NY at 585-444-1808 to discuss if your comfortable meeting with me to address incorporate your faith into the counseling process.
YOUNG COUNSELING SERVICES: ALTHOUGH LOCATED AND COUNSELING IN VICTOR, NY. ALSO SERVICING SURROUNDING AREAS SUCH AS: BLOOMFIELD, CANANDAIGUA, CLINTON SPRINTS, FAIRPORT, FARMINGTON, HENRIETTA, HONEOYE FALLS, LIMA, GENEVA, MACEDON, MANCHESTER, MENDON, NEWARK, PALMYRA, PITTSFORD, AND SHORTSVILLE.
1 http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Society/2010/0125/Why-some-Americans-mix-Christianity-Eastern-religions Why some Americans mix Christianity, Eastern religions. Sited October 2, 2016.
2 http://hirr.hartsem.edu/research/fastfacts/fast_facts.html What is the Hartford Institute for Religion Research?
We are a group of scholars who study religious groups and organizations. We are part of Hartford Seminary. Each of us teaches, does research, and writes on a diverse set of religious topics. We do not directly address theological or biblical questions, rather we study the social scientific dynamics of religious organizations. We also network and do collaborative research with many denominations, scholars, and independent organizations around the country. Sited October 2, 2016.