Is Christian & Spiritual Counseling Right For Me?
Spirituality and Christianity are undeniably complex topics that can be polarizing to both therapists and clients alike. Therapists may be reluctant to introduce the possibility of accidentally offending their clients; and therapy-goers may cringe at the thought of discussing their spiritual views, be too timid to broach the subject, or unintentionally overlook the relevance of spirituality to the therapeutic process.
However, at the Lifeologie Institute, we believe that the most effective therapeutic treatments address the interaction between your body, mind, AND spirit; and we recognize that for practitioners of all faiths, this last part can be particularly important. Acknowledging how our spiritual views imprint upon our behavior can allow not only for a more comprehensive self-discovery process, but can also open up previously unexplored outlets for healing.
Personal beliefs concerning Christianity and Spirituality may be incorporated into therapy in the following ways:
- Reconciling personal beliefs & actions with spiritual beliefs: When an individual experiences a disconnect between their personal and spiritual beliefs, the contradiction can generate significant distress. For example:
- Have you ever done something that you seriously regretted? We all have! Maybe you’ve slipped up and committed an act of infidelity, developed a substance use or gambling addiction, or worry that you could be a better son/daughter or mom/dad. If you also feel like you’ve been out of sync with your spiritual beliefs, it can intensify the guilt that you’ve already been feeling. Spiritual counseling can help you re-harmonize your behaviors with your belief system and help you alleviate some of the harsher blame that you’ve been casting your own way
- For LGBTQ+ clients: Many LGBTQ+ individuals come to embrace their sexual and gender identity despite being raised in a spiritual environment that views gender and sexual minorities as “sinful” … but the idea may still niggle at the back of your brain, or make it difficult for you to explore your spirituality out of a fear that you’ll be rejected by your religious community. Counseling in this context may serve to help you: 1. Pin down how you are actually feeling, and 2. Connect you to spiritual communities that promote LGBTQ+ inclusion in a safe environment where you can worship, without others attempting to alter your LGBTQ+ identity or preaching “down” to you
- Redefining distressing, personal ambiguities such as “What do I believe?”: You may identify as agnostic, and not really know what you believe. Or maybe you have been raised to practice a particular religion until you realize that you might actually identify more with another faith. You may agree with most aspects of your own religion, but find yourself questioning certain elements of its teachings. When you are uncertain as to what you believe, it can create inner-turmoil. Spiritual counseling can help you resolve this inner conflict by empowering you to direct your own journey—without insinuating that a particular spiritual path is right, wrong, or better
- Investigating matters of life purpose: Are you happy with what you do, or has it just become a paycheck? Most of us work to live… and not the other way around. If you hate your job—as most of us will do at some point—do you have something outside of work that infuses meaning into your life? If you are feeling aimless and perpetually unfulfilled, you may become depressed, anxious, or turn to drugs and alcohol as a means for coping. Sometimes, therapy-goers will identify their life’s purpose through the process of exploring their own spirituality. Other times, spirituality can function to silence those nagging thoughts about life’s meaninglessness, for instance, by promoting inner peace through the use of mindfulness and meditation
- Learning how to recruit your belief system to cope with environmental stressors: Do you have a particularly headstrong child, who constantly tests your patience and your limits? Have you recently lost your job? Found yourself engaged in a particularly nasty divorce? Given birth for the first time and feel utterly overwhelmed? Received notification that your biopsy results for cancer came back positive? During trying times of life transition, many people derive comfort through their belief in a higher power. For those of us who don’t subscribe to belief a higher power, elements of spirituality such as yoga and meditation can still be used to help therapy-goers carve out a space of inner calm
- Finding spiritual solace during times of grief: Few things are as difficult in life as losing a loved one. Spirituality can help us to make sense of the senseless, even when we feel like abandoning all hope
- Discovering new outlets for spirituality: Spirituality doesn’t have to be synonymous with “religion”; and in fact, many more people label themselves as “spiritual” instead of “religious”. In acknowledgement of this reality, the Lifeologie Institute offers alternative therapies, such as mindfulness, meditation, and psychotherapeutic yoga, as innovative treatments for depression, anxiety, trauma, eating disorders, etc.
- Understanding how differences in spiritual views can create sources of misunderstanding or disagreement in friendships and relationships: When you and your partner, or you and your best friend, hold conflicting views about spiritual matters it can result in heated arguments that drive a wedge into your relationship. Spiritual counseling can help you articulate your hurt, understand the other person’s perspective, and reach a place of mutual appreciation for each person’s beliefs
How Can Christian & Spiritual Counseling & Therapy Be Used for Me?
Ultimately, your decision to discuss Christianity or Spirituality during your counseling sessions should be a matter of your own choosing. However, for those who do decide, your therapist will provide you with a safe space to express your spiritual concerns and opinions without imposing their own spiritual viewpoints onto you. Your therapist may help you articulate your spiritual concerns or propose therapeutic interventions that are consistent with your belief system; or where you feel as though your life choices are incongruent with your spiritual beliefs, your therapist may help you harmonize the discrepancies.
At The Lifeologie Institute, we strive for diversity on our staff. Several of our counselors have master’s degrees in Biblical Studies, Theology, or Christian Counseling; and we have members on our staff from Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Hindu and other faiths. We also offer meditation, mindfulness, and psychotherapeutic yoga for those who enjoy expressing their spirituality through alternative outlets.
If you’re looking for someone who understands, you, your faith, and your problem—we believe that you’ve come to the right place!