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(solved) Integration Of Faith And Practice

(solved) Integration Of Faith And Practice

Integration Of Faith And Practice


Integrating Faith and Spirituality into Clinical Practice
We are taught in our training that therapists can effectively honor their clients’ worldviews without subscribing to them, and faith and spiritual belief systems are no exception. Here are a few ideas for incorporating faith and spirituality into your clinical work.

1. Avoid making assumptions.
One of the most common mistakes therapists makes when working to integrate someone’s beliefs is assuming they know what a client believes because of the title with which the client has identified. I have worked with clients who identified as conservative Christians and held beliefs that most Christians would reject.

When we assume we know more about a client is lived experience, including their faith-based lived experience, it can lead us to places with the client that are harmful rather than beneficial to their journey to health and wholeness. Mark Odland, LMFT, MDIV, EMDR consultant and trainer, discusses the importance of “theological curiosity” in his training on Spiritual Trauma and EMDR Therapy. It is critical to remain curious for your client—and yourself—to work effectively together on faith and spiritual integration.

2. Keep an open mind and heart.
We frequently talk about making safe spaces for our clients, but faith and spirituality are often areas where clinicians struggle to be truly open-minded. Ask questions, and when you get answers, maintain an open mind and refrain from passing judgment. When we make space for what a client embraces, even if we do not agree or subscribe to it, we provide a protective and sacred connection that can make or break a client’s healing.

Clients must feel safe discussing their faith and spiritual perspectives and beliefs, even if those beliefs change during their time in psychotherapy. Clients who visit the counseling center I run frequently tell us about being judged for their religious beliefs by previous therapists. The therapist dismissed their Native American spirituality as “woo woo,” their Christian theological perspectives as “old fashioned,” and their Muslim faith traditions regarding modesty as “conservative.” These assumptions prevented the client from engaging in expressive therapy.

3. Get used to feeling uncomfortable.
Those who do this work well allow their clients to take the lead. At the same time, allowing our clients to lead regarding faith can result in awkward moments and interactions. You may be asked to interact with belief systems that are unfamiliar to you. Things will get uncomfortable if you do this work! You may be asked to pray with a client or read texts or scriptures that contradict your beliefs. It is important to remember that participating in a client’s belief system is not the same as adopting it as your own. Valuing something good for another person does not require you to value it for yourself.

It is also worth noting that transference and countertransference can arise in these situations if we have a history with a particular belief system. Gather your backing for this! Conversations about faith and spiritual integration can be uncomfortable, even among friendly coworkers, in my consulting work and when I am supervising staff. Openness, leaving offense and judgment at the door, and remembering to check your biases and beliefs will all go a long way.


4. Speak in the client’s language.
As helping professionals, we must honor the client’s experience with their faith, spirituality, and beliefs and assist them in walking to health and healing that encompasses the entirety of their encounter with the religious, spiritual, or divine. If a client refers to God as Allah, and their therapist refers to Allah as “the higher power or whatever you want to call it,” this can be extremely insensitive to how a client is attempting to engage.

Integration Of Faith And Practice


Integration Of Faith And Practice

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