The professional counselor can recognize spiritual and/or religious themes in client communication and is able to address these with the client when they are therapeutically relevant.
Competency nine in the ASERVIC Spiritual competencies focuses on the counselor’s ability to recognize themes or patterns in the client’s speech.
Recognizing spiritual themes not only requires the counseling professional to brush up on his or her active listening skills, but also requires an awareness of general themes in different religions or spiritual groups.
The counselor must be familiar with the client’s spirituality and religion well enough to recognize consistencies and inconsistencies throughout the client’s communication.
For example, a client might discuss ideas of self-sacrifice, good versus evil, death, or kindness toward others. While counseling professionals are skilled by definition in recognizing these themes, the key is attributing them to the spirituality or religion of the client.
Working with Clients
When working with clients, don’t be afraid to acknowledge and discuss the spiritual or religious oriented themes that the client discusses.
Honoring their religion and spirituality through honest discussion of their perceptions shows spiritual competence. Be ready to have conversations with your client about the themes and patterns that they discuss – even if there are inconsistencies between what the client says and what the client does.
Being able to recognize and help the client to gain insight into their beliefs and values can contribute to improved client outcomes.
What Steps Have You Taken?
What opportunities have you pursued to meet ASERVIC Competency Nine?
- Can you identify common themes prevalent in prominent religions and spiritual practices?
- Which clients do you need to begin having conversations with regarding their spirituality, religion, or personal values?
More from VA-ASERVIC:
Want to read from the beginning? Check out ASERVIC Competencies Series: Competency One!
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.
This week, we focus on ASERVIC Competency 11: diagnostic planning. Throughout the past ten competencies, we’ve discussed how a client’s spirituality, religion, and ethical values can affect the counseling process, specifically in all areas, from intake to termination. One of the more controversial parts of the counseling process – diagnosis – is no different.