Individuals bring many aspects of their life into the therapy room, and even though some areas may not be referred to directly, each of these areas interrelate with each other and have an impact on the individual and the lived experiences. One area that might not always be touched on directly during therapeutic sessions, but may still be present to some degree or another, is the area of spirituality.
What is Spirituality?
Spirituality doesn’t necessarily mean being religious, in fact, one can be either without the other. For this blog, we shall focus solely on spirituality, which can be quite difficult to define, and it may also vary between cultures. Some common characteristics when trying to define spirituality would be to view it as a process where any individual may reflect on his or her own role in the community, in the world, and in existence. This reflection would help to give meaning and purpose to the individual, and also places the individual’s perspective differently than when one focuses solely on oneself, but rather the perspective would shift on others and the interconnectedness with them and the world.
How does Spirituality enter the therapy room?
Spirituality can be brought up by the therapist or the client and talked about directly. This process would help to verbalise beliefs, values and also ideas that would be influencing the client’s actions. By bringing the spiritual aspect into the therapeutic space, clients can feel validated and they can also have a safe space to challenge their beliefs. Spirituality in the therapy space can add more depth to what the client is living or processing, by providing a different perspective or giving a different meaning. It can also provide a context for the client to come to terms with certain losses or pain and to find strength in this understanding.
How can spirituality be a resource for the client?
Another way that spirituality may enter the therapy room is to use spiritual tasks that the client already follows and combine them with therapeutic tasks. An example of this would be when meditating or praying, keeping a journal, forgiveness rituals, spiritual rituals, etc… that support the therapeutic intervention of becoming more aware of their actions and life scripts, ways of expressing and processing emotions, engaging in healthy practices and routines, etc…
Another aspect of this would be for the client to find other individuals who share their ideas and spiritual values. In this way, the client can form a support system with like-minded individuals, who can also support each other in achieving their life’s meaning or purpose.
Which aspects should one look out for?
Spirituality is so diverse that one might not necessarily agree with or feel comfortable with every practice or idea. Both the practitioner and client should feel open and respectful towards each other and feel comfortable questioning values and practices without coming across as judgemental or trying to impose one’s values and beliefs on the other.
If you think that you can benefit from professional support on this issue you can reach out here.
Abigail Church is a Humanistic Integrative Counsellor who works with adults and children through counselling with Willingness. She can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 79291817.
Kersting, K. (2003, December). Religion and Spirituality in the Treatment Room. American Psychological Association. https://www.apa.org/monitor/dec03/religion
Spirituality. (2019). Good Therapy. Retrieved from https://www.goodtherapy.org/learn-about-therapy/issues/spirituality on January 13th 2023.
Spirituality for People who hate Spirituality. (n.d.). The School Life. https://www.theschooloflife.com/article/spirituality-for-people-who-hate-spirituality/