The professional counselor can identify the limits of his or her understanding of the client’s spiritual and/or religious perspective and is acquainted with religious and spiritual resources, including leaders, who can be avenues for consultation and to whom the counselor can refer.
This week in the ASERVIC Spiritual Competencies series, we discover that we as counseling professionals will never be enough. Even if we have followed the first four competencies to-the-tee, we must recognize our limitations as humans.
“…identify the limits of his or her understanding…and is acquainted with religious and spiritual resources…“ASERVIC Competency Five
As humans, we will never be able to absorb the sum of spiritual, religious, and ethical information in the universe. In one day alone, it would be impossible to consume a comprehensive knowledge of the new resources provided.
Therefore, it is necessary for counseling professionals to recognize that we might not best be able to understand the client’s perspective ourselves and need help from outside sources.
When we choose to recognize our limitations as counseling professionals, we can then posture ourselves in humility and choose an opportunity for learning.
Knowing that we are not the experts of our clients’ experiences, counseling professionals must be aware of the resources available to them to learn more about our clients, and the resources available to our clients to pursue their own spiritual understanding.
These resources might include websites, local places of worship, or community organizations. Often, a good place to start to understand your local resources would be contacting a local spiritual leader directly, and request their help to understand more about their spiritual worldviews. As counseling professionals, we must be prepared to consult with the experts when given the opportunity.
When you learn about a resource, write it down! Begin to formulate a library of religious and spiritual resources for your benefit as a counseling professional, and that of your client.
Working with Clients
An even better starting opportunity to better understand your client’s worldview is to ask the client directly. They are the experts in their personal spiritual experiences, and often can provide you ample resources to better understand their worldviews.
Maybe they enjoy a podcast, or blog, or community activity that they can share with you so that you might better understand their spirituality, values, and religion.
This opportunity might even lead to fruitful discussions that provide therapeutic value within the counseling session, and can help improve rapport. Be ready to ask your client questions and maintain an attitude of humility.
What Steps Have You Taken?
If you’ve never compiled a library of international, national, and local spiritual resources, now is your opportunity! Be prepared for clients who present with spiritual and religious beliefs that you are unfamiliar with. Know what resources are available to you and your clients.
A great online resource for learning basic information about a variety of religions, or learn more about the practices your clients engage in, is Learn Religions. Their authors include ministers, clergy, and teachers and their purported goals are similar to that of VA-ASERVIC.
What opportunities have you pursued to meet ASERVIC Competency Four?
- Do you know you own spiritual and religious knowledge limitations?
- Can you identify internet resources that are available for you and your clients?
- Are you familiar with the religious leaders and providers in your area?
More from VA-ASERVIC:
Want to read from the beginning? Check out ASERVIC Competencies Series: Competency One!
This week on the VA-ASERVIC resources page, we discuss ASERVIC Competency 14 and address the importance of including theory and research in the counseling session with our clients.
This week, we discuss competency 13, which addresses the specific techniques used within the counseling session. Previously, we have discussed the counselor’s limitations, attitude of acceptance, clinician’s choice of language, recognizing spiritual themes, intake, and diagnosis, but today we get to the meat of the spirituality subject – counseling techniques.
As we discussed in previous weeks, the client’s spiritual and religious beliefs can directly impact the pieces of the counseling process, such as the intake session, counseling rapport, and diagnosis. ASERVIC Competency 12 addresses how the client’s spiritual and religious beliefs should also affect the goals that the client wants to address.