With many counseling goals, a discussion of what you believe will need to be addressed at some point. Many believe in God, a Higher Power, or karma. Even if someone identifies as an atheist, there are things they believe to be true about life and how the world works. Most folks have faith the sun will rise tomorrow. Some believe that everything happens for a reason. Many believe in “meant-to-be”s. This information is very important in developing an effective therapeutic approach that is personalized and as unique as each client.
The concept of God is sometimes thought of differently by some folks in counseling. Many of my clients believe in God though some might call Him by a different name or see God in a totally different light. Even though my worldview might be different from that of some of my clients, I never seek to impose my values on my clients. That’s not my role as a counselor. Instead, I’m careful to ask clients about their beliefs, which I then use in personalizing the approach to their goals. Many of my clients identify themselves as having Christian faith, which is also true for me. At the same time, I prefer to ask clients (even if they say they are Christian) rather than make assumptions about their beliefs as it relates to their counseling goals.
I notice some confusion surrounding the idea of “Christian counseling.” If a counselor (Christian or otherwise) is a licensed professional counselor, that individual has had to pass an accredited course of study and has had to pass a licensing exam sanctioned by the governing body of the state in which s/he practices. It’s not unusual for clients (even ones who are of the Christian faith) to tell me they want counseling, but they don’t want Christian counseling. I believe what they are saying is that they don’t want pastoral counseling, which is what you might expect when you see a minister, pastor, priest, rabbi, etc. There are times when I recommend a client to seek pastoral counseling with someone of their faith/church leadership—because again, it’s not my role to impose my values and beliefs on my clients. Pastoral counseling is a good recommendation if someone is confused and seeking answers about God, religion, etc.
Occasionally I might be working with a couple where one spouse is a believer and the other a non-believer or they may be from two very different world views—but they both want to improve the marriage. And they both want to be validated and have their beliefs and views respected. Doing my best to help them to achieve their goals in a way that is respectful and validating is my focus. Visit: www.BalancedLifeInfo.com for additional information.
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