The professional counselor uses spiritual and/or religious concepts that are consistent with the client’s spiritual and/or religious perspectives and that are acceptable to the client.
This week, consistency is king.
Because you’re following ASERVIC 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.
Dialogue with the client regarding their spirituality, religion, and values must be consistent with the client’s understanding and be acceptable to the client, per ASERVIC Competency Eight.
In a conversation with young children, you wouldn’t constantly use words that you know they don’t yet understand. When speaking with someone outside of the counseling field, you’re careful to avoid jargon and explain concepts clearly.
In the same way, with clients regarding their spirituality, counseling professionals must use language intentionally to honor and respect the client. This dialogue might include the actual words spoken, but could also include metaphors, or refraining from using certain terminology.
Using language that is consistent with the client’s language, and is shown to be acceptable to the client can increase rapport, but at its very core demonstrates respect for your client.
Working with Clients
When you are with your client in session, pay attention to the language that they use. Just as you pick up on the details of their body language and what they do and don’t say when discussing family of origin dynamics (for example), you can pick up on these subtle changes regarding discussion of spirituality, religion, and values.
The client will communicate in an honest and true manner to their own values and personality. It’s up to you as the counseling professional to notice and adjust your tone, language, or literary elements to honor your client.
If you’re uncertain – always ask! Your clients will likely not take offense from their counseling professional showing interest in their values.
Consider how you might feel if someone asked how to say a word or write a sentence in your native language. Most people would be excited that you’re interested in learning more about them!
Your clients are no different. As a counseling professional you have a responsibility to demonstrate unconditional positive regard and respect toward your clients. Adhering to Competency Eight and honoring them through your language is no different.
What Steps Have You Taken?
What opportunities have you pursued to meet ASERVIC Competency Eight?
- Can you identify the unique language your clients use to describe their spirituality, religion, or values?
- In what ways have you changed your own language in the past to better meet your clients where they are?
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.