Ethical Issues for the Integration of Religion and Spirituality in Therapy
Religion plays an important role in the lives of many people, and in such cases, religious principles and beliefs influence all aspects of their lives. With the increasing interest in spirituality in the community, the intersection of psychological services, religion and spirituality is likely to be a growth area in psychology (Plante, 2007). However, working with clients around religion and spirituality issues does present potential ethical challenges.
Integrating spiritual and religious dimensions of clients ' lives into their treatment requires consummate professionalism and the highest quality of knowledge, skills, and attitudes. Psychologists …show more content…
The psychologist must carefully assess his/her clients’ opinions and needs of religious intervention and, in most cases he/she must obtain informed consent (Fisher, 2012; Standard 10.01, Informed Consent to Therapy). Many religious interventions may be considered appropriate by some clients and inadequate by others. Different spiritual beliefs may affect clients ' hopes, expectations and needs in therapy.
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In the work of professional psychology, we have now a forray of theories, therapeutic techniques, and modern psychotherapies which has all too frequently ignore the spiritual element in human life. In Care of Souls, Dr David Benner recaptures the place of the spiritual in psychological work. Among the many benefits of the use of modern therapies and medical science, he has also emphasised putting God's priorities above one's own in the practice of Christian soul care.
The professional clinical model in the psychiatry/medical world is the ideal model. However, the professional is allowed to develop his/her own model of counseling that meets the regulations of the State and the medical world. The secular view of the professional clinical model has been condensed to represent a basic fiduciary relationship placed within a box that is supervised and regulated by outside authorities. The nature of this counseling relationship does not include religious beliefs or does it involve the Scriptures as a resource. Harold Bullock (2003) expounds on this matter, “In the contemporary Western world, we have reduced the concept of god to “no god at all.” We do not want to bow our knees to any god. So, we have concocted a mixture of science and pseudo-science to explain how everything came to being without any god behind it. Morally, we have decided that we human beings can be and do whatever we want.” Science becomes the primary authority in which all “valid” knowledge is accepted. What the world considers to be the ideal model of counseling contrasts from what the Scriptures consider counseling to be.
McMinn (1996) states, a Christian counselor’s “spiritual life spills over in interactions with everyone, including clients” (p. 13). A few other challenges that McMinn (1996) identifies are as follows: the necessity for a scientific basis, the need for ethical standards, and challenging the dominant models of mental health. While evaluating each religious intervention, McMinn (1996) poses three questions to ponder that consist of asking the reader if the intervention will establish a healthy sense of self, sense of need, and establish a healing
Religious settings highlighted that only professional counsellors belonging to professional bodies offered counselling services (West, 2001; Rye et al, 2000 and Thorne, 1991). It was also emphasised that although counselling in Britain is not underpinned by religion Woodruff (2002) that it does have its ‘roots in religious forms’ (West, 2001, p. 415). For example the act of forgiveness was seen as a key competent of spiritual pastoral care West (2001) and also was identified to be used amongst many therapist today (West 2001). It was also suggested that pastoral counselling played a large part in the establishment of The BACP West (1998) which is the ethical framework that counsellors are required to adhere to. (Moore & Roberts, 2010)
Professional counseling leaves room for the client to return to their original state of problems. The fact of the matter is, there are many people who are dealing with issues, however, it is a heart condition of dealing with a sinful state. Therefore, this heart condition should be dealt with from a biblical prospective. The Bible declares, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can understand it” (Jeremiah 17:9). Although, some of the above approaches are effective, however, it leaves the counselor and the client short of the goal of total healing. It is imperative for a Christian counselor to stand firm on the central goal of assisting someone. With some of the secular approaches they do not get to the root cause of a problem that is plaguing an individual. Moreover, the living word of God is the difference maker in counseling session. “All scripture is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Tim 3:16-17). There are many issues that people are dealing with that a secular counseling approaches may not assist with. For instance, if someone is dealing with un-forgiveness, a secular counselor may not be able to help them. In addition, it would be hard for them to help a client that is struggling with guilt, to accept the grace of God’s forgiveness. There
Christian counseling is all about integrating psychology, theology and spirituality into counselor and clients lives. Psychology, Theology and Spirituality in Christian Counseling gives insight into how these three perspectives can be used to help individuals identify certain aspects of their lives that might be enhanced when the counselor includes spirituality into their counseling sessions. We also see how important it is for the counselor to be in touch with their own spirituality so that
In this paper I will review the article “Interventions that Apply Scripture in Psychotherapy.” (Garzon 2005). Overall counseling can be very tricky, especially when the client is religious. This will require the counselor to use multiple resources, such as the Bible, when coming up with a treatment plan. The word of God is superior when it comes to healing. “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12 (NIV)
Bob Kelleman, in his book Gospel-Centered Counseling, suggests that a study of human mind is not a product of modern psychology. However, men’s attempt to know and understand human suffering and problems began even far back from Greek philosophy. Thus, Paul rightly says in Colossians 2:8, “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ (KJV).” However, it is certainly true that rise of psychology in modern era restricted the use of counseling to a secular world, while breaking a tie between counseling and religion in its usage. Secular society claimed counseling has no place in religion, its usage and methodology can be utilized and systemized only by pure science. This is how Christian ministry began to lose a counseling in its domain.
The integration of psychology and theology is so intertwined that it has caused ill-well between the two disciplines. The over-arching concern for a counselor is to understand the why of a person disorder. In trying to understand the why, there are issues concerning the mind of the person, the thought process, their body, their soul, their temporal and the supernatural systems that can be manipulated if they are not living with a healthy lifestyle. So what a counselor is trying to discover is the physical function of individuals as well as trying to uncover the spiritual components of their lives, which can be worked through within the intake process, however it does not need to be left out during the counseling process. This is best said in the words of McMinn (1996) who declares “the best interdisciplinary integration work usually comes from those who have formal or informal preparation in both psychology and theology” (p. 9). Scripture states in, II Chronicles 1:10, says “give me wisdom and knowledge, that I may lead this people, for who is able to govern this great people of yours” (New International Version)? This research article will endeavor to search through varies theories to aid counselors in the integration process of psychology and theology. Because the ultimate goal for any counselor especially the Christian counselor is to be used as an instrument for God to bring about healthy living, corrective thoughts, and eradicate persistent sins.
Christian counselors have a responsibility to their clients to integrate psychology and theology in their therapeutic approaches. Incorporating multiple components however is not as straight forward as one might think. In Psychology Theology, and Spirituality (McMinn, 2011) McMinn discusses the benefits of an integrated counseling approach that strives to promote “both spiritual and emotional growth” (McMinn, 2011, p. 5) by including a third element; spirituality, or more specifically, spiritual formation. Finding the proper blend of elements can be challenging even for a seasoned therapist.
The code of ethics for both the American Counseling Association (ACA) and the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT) create a framework by which Licensed Professional Counselors (LPC) and Marriage and Family Therapists (MFT), respectively, determine their ethical boundaries in which to practice in the field of counseling. Though it is clear the code of ethics within this profession are not definitive nor concrete instructions to handle all ethical concerns and scenarios, they do serve a major purpose in helping professionals navigate ethical concerns that may arise (Corey, 2015). In addition to the professional ethics, “Christian mental health professionals are called to a higher ethic (Sanders, 2013, p. 27).” This goes without saying for the one whose life has been radically transformed because of what Christ accomplished on the Cross. However, in the context of a profession that restricts one’s personal values there remains a consistent thoughtfulness of the impact it has on one’s faith.
In the case of Sheila, we learn the unethical and unprofessional issues that we as counselors never want to institute. It is absolutely important for counselors to be properly trained in cases that need sensitivity and understanding of cultural differences. Otherwise, we may impose our own values onto our clients without the intention to do so. It is essential that therapists are aware of their own beliefs and values in order to better serve their clients so that the professional is not bias towards those seeking help. If someone is not confident in a situation that concerns their clients well-being, seek supervision for further assistance. In the following essay we will review different codes of ethics that relates to Sheila’s case with her client, Brendan and how to execute them as professionals in the helping field. Sheila was dismissive and insensitive when Brendan shared his spiritual values to her, which ultimately caused him to leave their session. Here we learn how a counselor should carry themselves in cases such as this.
McMinn tells how psychology, theology, and spirituality are used and how they should be used in Christian counseling. A Christian counselor has to look at not necessarily psychology and theology in a counseling session but how religion and spiritually is brought into the session. McMinn (2011) states, “Religious interventions require us to understand spiritual formation, place priority on personal spiritual training as well as professional development, challenge prevailing models of mental health, work toward a stronger scientific base, and sensitively recognize ethical issues” (p. 26). Counselors need to work on their own spiritual foundation so they can are able to help clients. This consists of prayer, scripture, redemption, sin, forgiveness, and confession (McMinn, 2011).
For health care providers to deliver the best holistic care that patients deserve, a thorough spiritual assessment must be included during their care. With more research showing a relationship between supporting a patient’s spirituality with their health and ability to cope with illness, it is now a requirement of organizations to include a spiritual assessment to maintain accreditation with The Joint Commission. The minimum required of a spiritual assessment by The Joint Commission is to determine the patient’s religion and
Students critically examine the implications of a Christian worldview for counseling and marriage and family practice. Ethical issues relevant to the use of spiritual and religious interventions with individuals, couples, & families are considered, along with current research related to spirituality and counseling.