The professional counselor responds to client communications about spirituality and/or religion with acceptance and sensitivity.
This week’s ASERVIC competency, Competency Seven, focuses on the client-counselor exchange within the counseling setting. As with other topics of concern to our clients, when clients wish to discuss topics regarding religion and spirituality, counseling professionals demonstrate unconditional positive regard and empathy.
“…responds…with acceptance and sensitivity…“ASERVIC Competency Seven
As counseling professionals, we know that clients can be affected by their beliefs and experiences surrounding religion and spirituality, and must acknowledge that these items can affect their mental health and wellbeing. In the same way we talk with clients about their family systems, automatic thoughts, or coping skills, we can allow them to talk openly about their religion and spirituality.
The counseling professionals’ understanding of the importance of religion and spirituality in the lives of our clients helps shape our engagement and response. We know that the clients’ religion and spirituality can be integral to their counseling outcomes. Therefore, we must respond in kind.
Regardless of the client’s expression of religion and spirituality, the counselor must provide the respect and empathy they deserve as a human being.
Working with Clients
Our clients must feel able to talk about their religion and spirituality opening and without fear of retaliation or judgment. Often, the best way to demonstrate to a client that the counseling office is a safe place is to demonstrate this through discussion in other topics.
Your intentional choice to engage in acceptance and sensitivity, rather than judgment or fear, can help promote positive outcomes in your clients.
What Steps Have You Taken?
What opportunities have you pursued to meet ASERVIC Competency Seven?
- Can you think of a time when you’ve responded with sensitivity and acceptance when a client discussed his or her religion and spirituality?
- In what ways might you improve your responses or asses your own biases with clients who might believe differently than you?
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.