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:
- ASERVIC Competencies Series: Competency EightThis week, consistency is king. Because you’re following Competency Seven, as a helping professional, you’re having conversations with your client about their understanding of their spirituality, religion, and values. As with the counseling art as a whole, when speaking with your client, you are to use the language that the client uses.
- ASERVIC Competencies Series: Competency SevenThe professional counselor responds to client communications about spirituality and/or … Continue reading ASERVIC Competencies Series: Competency Seven
- ASERVIC Competencies Series: Competency SixThis week’s ASERVIC competency, Competency Six, focuses on the academic nature of counselor proficiency in spirituality and religion. Counseling professionals are expected to be familiar with and utilize the various models of spiritual and religious development, and be able to integrate these models with the development of the individual.