During the intake and assessment processes, the professional counselor strives to understand a client’s spiritual and/or religious perspective by gathering information from the client and/or other sources.
This week, we focus in on ASERVIC Competency Ten – the first of the fourteen competencies to review the intake process. Until now, all previous nine competencies have covered the general relationship between the client and clinician throughout the counseling process. This competency covers specifically the clinician’s goals before the first session, and during the initial intake session.
Specifically, the counseling professional seeks to understand the client’s spirituality and religious perspectives during the initial assessments and intake processes because the counseling professional understands that the spirituality and religion of the client is just as informative as other areas uncovered during assessment and intake.
Understanding the client in light of his or her spiritual perspectives can prove invaluable to working effectively with the client. Just as social, familial, and medical perspectives are necessary, so is the spiritual and religious.
Additionally, the clinician is directed to be through in this understanding. Not only should the clinician seek out information from the client during assessment and intake, but if necessary should look to other sources. With the client’s permission, perhaps a discussion with the client’s parents or religious leader would be pertinent to understanding the client’s religious or spiritual perspectives.
By prioritizing understanding of the client’s spiritual, religious, and ethical beliefs during the assessment and intake processes, the counseling professional demonstrates that he or she values the whole client.
Working with Clients
During the initial assessment process, to explore the client’s beliefs, the counseling professional might include specific questions regarding the client’s spiritual development and current religious beliefs.
This process delves into more than just the client’s religious affiliation. Consider two clients who might identify as Christians. One might be of a Catholic background and the other Pentecostal. These individuals will have drastically different ways of living out their faith, and most likely have differing core beliefs.
Noting that they are “Christians” on a paper intake assessment does not suffice.
During the initial intake, be prepared to have conversations with your clients about their spiritual and religious beliefs. If the client does not engage first, be ready to initiate this conversation as part of a thorough intake.
The counseling process begins with intake an assessment during that first session. Set the precedent that you are going to attempt to understand every aspect of your client to treat their full picture.
What Steps Have You Taken?
What opportunities have you pursued to meet ASERVIC Competency Ten?
- What additional information do you need to include on your pre-counseling assessments to better understand your clients’ spirituality, religions, and personal values?
- What are you going to change during your intake sessions to promote better understanding of your clients’ spiritual and religious beliefs?
- Which clients do you need to assess further to better understand them holistically?
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.