A Review of Therapists' Integration of Religion and Spirituality in Counseling

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In this meta-analysis of integration of spirituality and religion in the counseling field, the authors seek to understand the skills and attitudes needed to integrate these variables into counseling. Among those that were studied are awareness of one’s own culture and heritage, respect for the diversity found in people concerning spirituality and religion and recognition of one’s helping style and how it may be perceived by clients (Walker, Gorsuch, & Tan, 2004).
A difficulty that has occurred commonly is that a definition of spirituality cannot be agreed on. In a broad explanation of both religion as well as spirituality, religion constitutes the organization of faith, implementing prayer, ministry and theology. Spirituality could be viewed as a more individualized experience with a higher being, creator or idea (Walker et al., 2004, p. 70). These expressions allow a vision of client diversity that is found in all counseling classifications. While defining religion and spirituality properly seems trivial, when training counselors to properly apply the use of such variables in their therapies, a concrete explanation is imperative.
According to Walker, Gorsuch and Tan, there are two methods that psychologists and counselors use to integrate spirituality and religion into their practice; explicit and implicit integration. Explicit integration is specifically using prayer and biblical teachings in counseling sessions. Counselors who are not trained or have experience in practices used in explicit integration exercise implicit integration which does not apply these variables in therapies but rather use theological resources to provide moral value in counseling (2004, pg. 71).
By comparing and contrasting 26 corre...

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... By having them journal their prayers to God daily and encouraging them to read these entries frequently to refresh the memories of those prayers and seek for those that are answered allows for each client to find their way to a spiritual understanding that is not necessarily demonstrated by my impact, but that of God Himself. I am available to answer questions that pertain to the bible, but allow clients to interpret the teaching to their lives and recovery. These approaches allow clients to not rely on my experiences, but on their own encounters and knowledge. Gently guiding them to hear and see how God works in a client’s life is a rewarding and satisfying experience.

Walker, D. F., Gorsuch, R. L., & Tan, S. (2004, October). Therapists’ integration of religion and spirituality in counseling: A meta-analysis. Counseling and Values, 49(), 69-80.

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